Commentary: “One more time the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) focuses on the wrong supports for students and school personnel. Perhaps we should be heartened that more teachers have learned how to play the PED’s game and improve their own pay. We are not, says Betty Patterson, President of the National EducationAssociation – New Mexico. “Just ‘rewarding’ teachers rated as tops under an evaluation system widely known to still be seriously flawed is counter-productive and fails to adequately support students, teachers, other school personnel.”
Here’s a few top reasons why other programs do and will yield a better return on our goals for success for all New Mexico students:
- There is zero evidence monetary bonuses for only a few teachers improves student outcomes, though legislators have repeatedly asked the PED to provide any evidence it does.
- The vast majority of teachers are not “rewarded,” by definition. To improve outcomes for all students, support all educators.
- Recognition goes farther than one-time bonuses. We know of no teacher anywhere in New Mexico who is withholding doing their best for their students “if only I could get a bonus.”
- Too many high performing educators are leaving the profession. One-time “bonus” rewards are not stemming the flow.
- Working conditions, including but in no way limited to compensation issues, are the main reason for teachers leaving, and for the empty seats in every collegiate education program in our state.
- In too many classrooms, departing teachers are being replaced by long-term substitutes with little or no qualifications.
- Entire categories of educators whose work has a profound impact on student success are either not included in the PED evaluation system at all or have almost zero chance at being rated “exemplary.” Special Education teachers are chief among these, and Counselors, Librarians, therapists and other professionals are categorically excluded, as well as the hardworking classified employees who drive the busses, fix the lunches, clean the classrooms, and assist teachers in every way!
“What does work are policies that promote continuously improving the skills of educators performing at all levels,” concludes Patterson.