Performance Pay Doesn’t Mean Cut-Throat Workplace
Dan Yorke has been talking about the East Providence school administration’s push for a pay-for-performance system for teachers, and one teacher from the district called in from her house in Barrington to explain that that sort of pay schedule doesn’t work in her profession. Teaching is cooperative, you see, meaning that unlike other professions (apparently) the teachers have to work together, and if some know that others make more, they’ll refuse to help.
If that’s the case, then the people with whom we currently entrust our children’s educations must be replaced immediately, because they lack the requisite maturity.
Now, I know all other fields of work pale in comparison with the divine calling that is public-school teaching, but in every job that I’ve ever had, whether carpentry, editing, graphic design, office help, retail seafood, or even private-school grade school, differing pay has had absolutely no effect on employees’ ability to work as a team. (Boy, wouldn’t professional sports be in trouble!) For one thing, pay-for-performance is not zero sum; high-performing employees do not take their additional money away from those who perform less well.
Indeed, it behooves those who earn less to help those who earn more so the latter will provide them assistance in return — both as a matter of course and explicitly to aid in advancement. The carpenters on my jobsite are always quick to help each other, regardless of pay, and they are also quick to seek the input of those whom they know to have more experience and knowledge. Heck, the carpenters are quick to help the electricians and plumbers, who make more money than us even if they’re terrible! As long as the structure is perceived as fair and is available to everybody, nobody has cause for grievance against their fellow workers.
If the current crop of teachers in East Providence can’t even match the cooperation of lowly construction workers… like I said, they’ve gotta go.