As a former high school teacher, I think the biggest factor in successful student learning isn’t the newness or number of their state-provided laptops, but the quality of their instructors. A great teacher makes a program thrive, and enrollments soar along with student achievement. A bad teacher kills the desire to learn just as quickly. 
Teachers need to get paid more. Who wants to put in six years to get a master’s degree and teach when anyone could get the same money being a dentist’s assistant after only two years of study? Our best and brightest compete to become doctors and lawyers, in part, because of the money. When teaching, as a profession, gets a reputation for being well-paid, we’ll see competition for those jobs, and an increase in quality.
I support merit pay for teachers because it kills two birds with one stone. It furthers the vital goal of increasing teacher pay, while holding them accountable for their performance, like workers in any other field.
The teachers’ unions, school boards, and parents need to agree on ways to recognize merit — a very difficult task — and move forward.
Even as President Barack Obama voices some tepid support for innovation in our schools, the hard left is still fighting for the status quo.
The Sun Journal reported Brian Bolduc, D-Auburn, has sponsored a bill to ban merit pay. I hope the subject will be followed closely, letting readers know how elected officials vote on that and other consequential issues.
Dana Coffin, Auburn

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