The Fraser Institute's suggestion, that the Canadian public school system would be vastly improved if teachers who successfully improve students' academic achievement be rewarded with higher salaries as well as merit pay, is not being well received by Nanaimo instructors.
The controversial institute released a report, called Obtaining Better Teachers for Canadian Public Schools, on Monday which stated the proposal to reward individual teachers for the success of their students would be superior to the current practice of basing teachers' salaries on work experience and post-secondary credentials.
Written by Rodney A. Clifton, the report also calls for strict entrance exams, like those found in law, dentistry and medicine, to be administered to aspiring teachers to weed out "weak" candidates.
Student teachers should also have to pass "high-quality" literacy and math exams, according to the report, and teachers should be required to apply for certification throughout their careers to ensure they remain competent.
Principals should also be given more leeway to hire the best teachers and not be forced to follow seniority rules, the report stated.
But Mike Ball, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers' Association, said the concept of more pay for teachers with better academic performance records among their students has already been tried in a number of jurisdictions in the U.S. and has proven to be a failure.
Ball said countries that are considered to have the best public education systems in the world, like Finland, don't rely solely on test results and merit pay to determine the success of their children's educations.
"The report by the Fraser Institute just doesn't meet the needs of the today's students," Ball said.
"I don't believe the concept of merit pay for teachers and the testing agenda will get much traction in B.C."
Ball said he finds it more than coincidental that the report by the Fraser Institute was released at the same time the BCTF is before the B.C. Supreme Court arguing that the provincial government infringed teachers' rights with the passage of legislation in 2002 and 2004 that stripped their collective agreement of many working and learning conditions.
"I believe the provincial government would love nothing more than to get rid of the teachers' seniority system because they have to pay more for senior teachers," Ball said. "I think the province wants what's best for students, but they believe that's best accomplished through the privatization of the public school system."
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