Here’s where public education gets stuck. The school board at the Proviso Township high schools has taken the bold step of asking for a proposal from its administrators on how to implement a merit or performance-based pay component for those same administrators.

We are on board with this concept 100 percent. Crafting some formula for merit pay for teachers, principals, and, of course, for administrators is essential if public education is to focus on needs and accomplishments. We agree with board member Kevin McDermott that any plan and process for merit pay must be overtly transparent. That is the core of the concept. What are our most critical goals? How can we best measure our progress toward that goal? Here is the formula on which we will reward you. Which members of our staff were most successful in helping us move toward those goals? 

No one believes that a merit pay system in education will be perfect. Likely it isn’t perfect where you work either. But it is an essential motivator toward shared goals and it is vital that it be implemented, and then tweaked, and then adjusted some more.

Here’s the stuck part. At the May 13 board meeting where this discussion took place, a district administrator pointed out that among the 16 school districts with which Proviso benchmarks itself, only two have implemented merit pay. That is what’s wrong with public education. How about we compare our schools with the rest of the professional world where some form of performance pay is standard?  How about we get on the horn to the two school districts which have courageously adopted merit pay and find out what is working and what hasn’t yet.

District 209 is a troubled school system which needs change on all fronts. Good for the school board for exploring options to reward success.