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[Susan notes: Don Elliott makes good points about the destructive nature of so-called pay for performance schemes.]

Published in St. Petersburg Times

To the editor

Published July 11, 2005

Re: State forcing teacher bonuses, July 6.

The state's K-12 chancellor, Jim Warford, is quoted in this story as saying, "We pay elementary PE teachers the same that we pay advanced placement physics teachers." This sadly reflects his ignorance of what is happening in our schools. I have taught advanced placement classes as well as "regular" classes at the high school level, and I would take the roughest high school class over an elementary physical education class. I could not handle those little kids. Their PE and other teachers rightly deserve the same pay as any other teacher with comparable experience and preparation (read degree and tenure).

I can take almost any class I get and through testing, videos, verbose written descriptions of my lessons and other manipulations of data produce a portfolio that would be mind-staggering. Does that make me a better teacher than those around me? Absolutely not.

This idiotic "pay for performance" is just a way of breaking the unity and camaraderie that must exist within a profession and that should never be competitive. It will pit teacher against teacher.

And to measure my teaching ability based on FCAT scores is out of the question. My classes are mixed grade level. Some of my students have already taken that test and others haven't. Yes, I teach FCAT skills in my classes because those skills have a purpose in others aspects of the educational and possibly professional life.

I strongly urge the public to object to this supposed "pay for performance" or our children will no longer be seen as human, but rather products. Yes, schools must have a business-like approach, but since we have no control over the quality of students we receive, we cannot produce identical results in each one. We can only do our best to help each child reach his or her peak.

Don Elliott

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