A NY Times article from yesterday (registration required) looks at the issue of merit-based pay for teachers and how there may be some softening of the teachers union’s staunch opposition.
A consensus is building across the political spectrum that rewarding
teachers with bonuses or raises for improving student achievement,
working in lower income schools or teaching subjects that are hard to
staff can energize veteran teachers and attract bright rookies to the
The unions (NEA and the AFT) seem to prefer quasi-merit based systems like the ABC Bonuses here in North Carolina that award all teachers in an entire school rather that individual teachers and have resisted efforts for differential pay for low-wealth schools or needed subjects like science and math. However the ABC structure has become more of an entitlement component of teachers’ salaries and does not fix the free-rider problem where bad teachers can still be rewarded if the rest of the school is successful.
However, it is good to see movement forward on this issue. If teachers want the "professional recognition" they say they deserve, they need to play by the same as the corporate world where each individual is judged and paid according to their merits.