MEA not ‘universally’ opposed to merit pay

BAY CITY, Mich. - The Michigan Education Association is not "universally" opposed to merit pay for teachers, a spokeswoman told The Bay City Times, but would object to merit pay that is tied to a single standardized test.

Responding to President Barack Obama's call for rewarding good teachers with higher pay and removing limits on charter schools, spokeswoman Kerry Birmingham told The Times that the MEA is open to hearing more about an approach that would tie teacher pay to effectiveness in the classroom as well as continuing education efforts, such as learning new methods of teaching.

"It's different than traditional merit pay," Birmingham said.

John Mrozinski, president of the Bangor Township Teachers Association, told The Times, "With the diverse background that children come to school with it seems unfair to base somebody's salary on how well a student does on standardized testing."

Kevin Stapish, president of the Bay City Education Association, told The Times that unions have traditionally opposed merit pay plans based just on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program.

"What they're talking about is merit pay in terms of multiple factors that would be more palatable," Stapish said.

In remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Obama said that, "Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom."

The Bay City Times, "Obama, taking on unions, backs merit pay," March 11, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer," June 30, 2008