Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Superintendent On Merit Pay: Teachers 'Are Not Widgets, They're People'

    Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

    Monroe County Community School Corporation superintendent Judy DeMuth speaks to a gathering at the Bloomington Country Club on Wednesday, August 24.

    The new superintendent of the Bloomington-based Monroe County Community School Corporation is no fan of teacher merit pay.

    In an interview Wednesday, MCCSC superintendent Judy DeMuth called the state’s mandate to districts on implementing merit pay systems by the start of next school year “unfair.Here’s what she told StateImpact:

    I really believe that a great teacher’s a great teacher and by instituting a merit program where you give them 500 more dollars or 750 more dollars isn’t going to change a great teacher… I think there’s a lot to be said about letting good teachers doing what they want to do and not throwing a token amount of money on them and expecting them to improve their performance, that’s not going to do it…

    I think [merit pay] tries to institutionalize a process that we know. We’re working with children, with their lives at home, and all of their capabilities they bring to the classroom.  [Teachers] are not widgets, they’re people.  And we talk with them and work with them as people, so I am apprehensive about that as a model of merit pay.

    But merit pay is something DeMuth won’t have to address directly for the next four years. MCCSC signed a new four-year contract with its teachers before a new state law took effect, skirting limits on what the two sides could bargain over and the contract’s length that took effect July 1. A merit pay system is currently not in the contract.

    We’ve reported that Indiana districts signing lengthy contracts before the law took effect wasn’t uncommon. As MCCSC human resources director Peggy Chambers told us in July, many districts are in a holding pattern, waiting to see how merit pay implementation (among other state-mandated changes) plays out in other districts.

    The Indiana Department of Education is piloting a merit pay program in three school districts this year.


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