The pros? I cannot think of any pros to continuing to model education after business and turning educators into producers of the educated, instead of people who love learning and sharing their knowledge. The failure of education is the failure of culture to see the intrinsic value of education. American primary education is a reflection of this culture of kitsch. There is little substance and thoughtfulness in the curriculum and the teachers are not professors or experts in some academic field. Teachers are the propaganda machines, the pillars of orthodoxy, and the managers/controllers of the milieu. Everything in schools is about “appearance” of substance and merit based pay makes teaching even more pragmatic and reduces education to a vocational model. In addition, I think there is a significant difficulty to quantifying what a good teacher is, is it knowledge, presentation, love of learning, classroom management, student outcomes, grades, or student achievement? I have taught at university and currently work in primary schools (K-12) and determining what or who is a good teacher is so seriously subjective and political it makes little sense without getting a clearer idea what we mean by the terms. The institutions of educating our children need reform like campaign finance.
Yet, if we are really honest with ourselves merit based pay is irrelevant to the situation of repairing or altering the current state of affairs in education. What is of dire importance is asking ourselves what we are doing in education both lower and higher, in a countrywide sense. The decay of our culture is observed so easily in schools where knowledge, understanding, and loving learning are nowhere to be found. Instead, there is tension and force imposed on children; Conform, follow, and play the game. Takes tests, conform, test some more, follow, test some more. The kids are but pawns and absolute mirrors of the culture they live in. To change the deeply entrenched culture is a dark tedious task that seems as futile as trying to end the corruption in education. Nevertheless, we must challenge, question, and not accept the status quo. Pay the teacher by merit or just pay them more, it will only line their pockets; it will not change anything substantively, except the cars that they drive.