teacher whose students' scores were raised significantly would be
rewarded. (See http://www .pacificresearch.org).
Here in Newport-Mesa, we expect our children to receive an
excellent education. Each year children should improve their ability
to speak and write the English language, and understand history,
science and math facts. A little art, music and physical education
are important too. While at school, we expect our children to learn
and practice virtues consistent with our community values. We are
thankful for the many outstanding Newport-Mesa school teachers who
work diligently to impart knowledge, and overall, we are satisfied
with our children's achievements.
But I know many parents who have experienced frustration when
faced with an ineffective teacher or administrator. Should they take
action, parents risk being labeled troublemakers and the possibility
their children could be adversely affected. Sometimes the parents
prevail and a teacher is removed. But the education bureaucracy and
union process are not conducive to dealing with alleged mediocrity or
unprofessional conduct in a timely manner.
Recent implementation of state teaching standards and the federal
No Child Left Behind requirements force teachers to teach
quantifiable content. Merit pay would raise the bar higher.
In the coming months, we can anticipate an intense battle between
the governor and teachers unions. All sides should see the value of
good test results for our children. Locally, discussions of merit pay
and teacher salaries should be held in public, not behind closed
doors. Merit pay won't work unless taxpayers hold local school
In the meantime, the only sure way for parents to deal with
problems is to confront the teacher or the administration and
persevere until there is a satisfactory resolution. If parents were
involved in what is happening in our classrooms, we wouldn't need an
intervention such as merit pay.
A better idea would be that the parents who pay the teachers'
salaries hold all teachers accountable to teach excellence in each
and every classroom.
* WENDY LEECE is a parent who lives in Costa Mesa and is a former