Dear Mr. President,
Congratulations on the election and all. I was rooting for you. I voted for you. My county in Michigan voted for you by a little over 500 votes. They voted “Democrat” for the first time since the 1950s. Well done.
I am glad that you are doing well. I think that most of your ideas are great, and I know you have many people hard at work around the clock to make America a better place.
That being said, I respectfully disagree with your recent idea of reforming “teacher-pay” in schools. This idea is included in your most recent strategies to overhaul and improve the education system in the United States.
Having “merit-pay” sounds logical, but in reality, this will only further schism the teachers of America. I believe that at this time of devastating loss in the US, the last thing we need is competition in our educators. They should be a haven for our students, a group dedicated to bringing the children of today into the future.
As I sit and look out my window, at the school where I work, I see students at recess. I see their teachers chatting and laughing with each other, and I wonder what the world would be like if those teachers were focused more and more on grades and test scores. I wonder what it’d look like if we evaluated fourth graders on their math, science, and English scores. They may know clauses, algebra, and chemistry, but would they know where Darfur is? Would they know that the Amazon River is in Brazil? Would they know how to paint, how to sing, what a trumpet was?
Paying teachers because they are great teachers is an excellent idea. Getting rid of teachers that are not great communicators and/or educators can be tough, but must be done. This country is full of educators who give their lives to teach students. We owe it to teachers to treat them fairly, but treat them as a team–not a group of individuals striving to be the best.
Striving to be the best was what got us into the mortgage crisis in the first place. Companies were striving to get more customers, go lower, give out the most money. Look what that has brought us: Heartache for the masses, and headache for the government.
We need to remember that the school system in America is not looking to be a part of the free market. Keeping teachers united by realizing that each student, class, teacher, and school is different will keep them a united force.
Test scores may not mean anything at an inner city, overcrowded schools. Taking money away from schools for lower performance on tests will simply give the message that their schools are unwanted and unnecessary. These schools, however, are the ones that will need the most money and the most help, and the best teachers.
There are problems in the school systems. There are ways to fix them, and we need to act quickly. But sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t look good in practice. Ask a few teachers what they think, but I’m sure most of them will agree with me.
Thank you for your time.