A suggestion by Claus Von Zastrow of Public School Insights that pundits like Jonathan Alter who write about education be subject to performance pay attracted the notice of Alter, who has been mixing it up with commenters to the post. It started when Von Zastrow took issue with Alter’s KIPP cheerleading and broad brush take on reform.
What do we make of Alter’s suggestion that only charter schools and merit pay are “real reform?” Well what about better staff development? Better curriculum? Stronger ties between schools and communities? Much, much better assessments? Are those phony reforms? All in all, Alter gets an unsatisfactory rating, so no performance bonus this year. In fact, his failure to improve since last summer puts him at risk of termination.
That was apparently too much for the Newsweek pundit, who showed up on the blog’s comments to defend himself and do a little advocacy work. ”With the president’s support, the pool of reformers is growing,” Alter wrote. “Come on in, guys. The water’s warm.”
Alter gets points for showing up and opening himself up for further abuse. The highlight of the thread so far: One anonymous wit who wickedly applies Alter’s take on merit pay to his own columns:
I’m glad you’ve accepted Claus’ merit pay proposal. The formula is clear. Since your job is to inform the public, we’re going to measure your readers’ knowledge. Then, a year from now, we’re going to measure it again. If they’re smarter, you’ll get a substantial bonus. If not, we’ll put you on a 90-day plan of review, support, and, if your readers don’t get smarter, we’ll have to regretfully let you go. Sorry, but it’s all about the readers, not the writers.