Meaningful Goals For Teachers Needed

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This week the Payson School Board once more found itself mud wrestling a vexing topic: How should it distribute bonuses based on teacher performance?

The all-too-often inert board bestirred itself and warned the administration that it really does want meaningful goals on which to base merit pay bonuses.

Last year, the administration gave the board no time to consider an almost meaningless set of standards. The rules give every teacher in the school a bonus if 70 percent of the students meet the grade level standards on the AIMS test. If only half the students pass the test, then the teachers still get 80 percent of the money.

And get this: If the students pass the test next year, or the year after, then the teachers get the bonus retroactively.

Originally, the bonus amounted to $2,400 annually per teacher and now that amount has dwindled to about $780. So why quibble?

Good point — especially if the goal is to make sure everyone gets a share.

But it’s also a terrible waste — since the failure to grapple with this topic strikes at the heart of what’s wrong with our schools.

Make no mistake, our children desperately need great teachers. Just like any profession, some teachers are brilliant, most do a good job under trying circumstances, and some should find another profession.

So ideally, the merit pay system should reward those great teachers to guarantee they stick around and get rid of the bad teachers — too burned out to care what their students learn.

So those great teachers should get big bonuses —along with teachers who go above and beyond by lavishing their time on sports and drama and debate and science labs and other time-consuming labors of love.

Other districts are experimenting with value added evaluation systems, which measure the progress students make. An elaborate system of tests establishes a baseline, then tracks how students in a given teacher’s class advance more quickly than average. The system still has many flaws and critics, but it at least attempts to answer a meaningful question.

So we applaud the school board’s insistence the administration take this effort seriously, instead of the meaningless exercise to make sure everyone gets something.

We hope the board will continue to ask tough questions: The future of our children depends on it.

Perhaps then instead of ending up with pathetic bonuses for everyone, we’ll wind up with a way to truly reward the great teachers and at the same time identify the teachers who’ve already given up teaching.

Event needs community support

Butch Klein and Lud Kaftan are a couple of gray-haired jarheads. They are the heart and soul of Payson Supply Line, a local outfit that sends care packages to our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

They started in January 2005. As of this August, they have shipped 1,280 boxes to our troops overseas — filled with everything from snacks, drink mixes, hand and foot warmers, hygiene items, socks and a multitude of items not readily available from the military. The letters of appreciation for our men and women, sent to www.paysonsupplyline.com, are more than heartwarming.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen them at the many town events where they set up a booth to raise funds for their non-profit organization. It is absolutely amazing what they can get in a simple standard shipping box. I’m sure Butch’s years of experience in the moving industry, he owns and runs Quality Movers, have given him the ability to use every single square-inch to its fullest.

When I first met Butch (we are both Vietnam veteran Marines), I told him “wouldn’t that have been great to get one of those back in our day?” He looked me straight in the eye and said “if we don’t treat our troops better than we were treated, it is squarely on our shoulders, I’m not going to let it happen.” HoooRah, Butch.

Next Saturday, Sept. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is the annual Payson Supply Line major fund-raiser. It will be held at Granny’s Attic on Highway 260. There will be hundreds of donated raffle items from merchants all over Payson. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. There will be food available with all proceeds to PSL. Please stop by for this very special event. While there, sign a Christmas card to go with your box. If you can’t make it, go to PSL’s Web site and donate a few bucks.

These are our kids in harm’s way, all of ours.

— John Naughton, Payson Roundup publisher

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