Bill would link Michigan teachers' pay to student growth

May 8, 2013

Credit clarita / MorgueFile

New teachers in Michigan would be paid based primarily on student growth under a bill in Lansing.

But some lawmakers question whether now is the right time to take up the issue.

The state Legislature is still waiting on a report that will recommend a state-wide teacher evaluation system.

Lawmakers like Rep. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) say they should wait to see what the report says before they switch to a merit-pay system for teachers.

“I don’t know why we’re jumping the gun on this. We should be waiting for what the commission comes back and says to us is the proper course of action," Knezek says.  “I don’t think the two necessarily, one has to be before the other.”

Bill sponsor Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) says the commission’s recommendation could be more useful if they already have a system in place. Lund says tying educators’ pay to their performance in the classroom would promote student growth and weed out bad teachers.

“We no longer say you are a better teacher just because you’ve been teaching for a long time," Lund says. "If teaching a long time has helped you, your students will grow, they will be better students, they will learn more, and you’ll be properly compensated properly for it.”



The bill also prohibits schools from boosting a teacher’s pay because they’ve earned an advanced degree. That’s unless the degree is in the teacher’s subject area.

Some Democrats on the panel say merit-pay for teachers promotes competition over collaboration at schools. They say similar measures in other parts of the country have led to cheating scandals.

"You’ve seen where teachers are giving answers to the students on the tests, teachers are changing the answers to some of the tests, because they’ve got a couple, five, ten thousand dollars, maybe, on the line," Knezek says.

Supporters say those claims are overblown.