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[Susan notes: What's to comment? Walt Gardner's letters are omnipresent and quite wonderful.]

Published in Amerocan Enterprise Magazine website

To the editor

Naomi Riley's argument for merit pay for teachers does not stand up to scrutiny (SCAN, March). The only way to assess the validity of her claim is to design a rigorous study with experimental and control groups. The schools in each group need to be similar in terms of prior achievement, poverty level, demographics, and method of assignment.

Riley considers none of these factors in broadly concluding that merit pay results in higher educational quality than the traditional basis for paying teachers. Instead, she relies on testimonials and her own casual observation of Columbia University's school. To buttress her case, she then cites "a blue-ribbon commission" that recommended pay-for-performance for New York City public schools.

It's interesting to note the double standard in The American Enterprise: Editors are so exacting in their demands for evidence when supporters of public schools speak, but are so casual about evidence when critics opine.

Walt Gardner

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