Merit Pay for Teachers

Published March 22, 2006

Michael Van Winkle, a research assistant at The Heartland Institute, sent the following letter to The Chicago Tribune on March 13, 2006. The letter ran in the “Voice of the People” section on March 22, 2006.

Dear Editor:

The fear that merit pay in public education will punish teachers for factors beyond their control is understandable. Every occupation presents factors beyond employees’ control. What’s important is how we handle those things we can control.

Merit pay rewards teachers who find the best strategies for overcoming student-achievement factors beyond their control. Merit pay also encourages good teachers to take on even bigger challenges, like teaching tough subjects or in inner-city schools.

Merit pay is not intended to make teachers’ lives more difficult–it’s intended to attract talented teachers to the classrooms and schools most in need of their talents, and to keep them there.

Mike Van Winkle
Oak Park, IL 60302