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Swedish town mulls low pay for bad teachers

TT/David Landes · 10 Sep 2009, 16:00

Published: 10 Sep 2009 16:00 GMT+02:00

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“The best teachers should be paid the best. And teachers’ most important duty is to pass on knowledge,” said Lars Hemzelius, a member of the Liberal Party and chair of the high school and adult education committee in Trelleborg, to the Metro newspaper.

Starting as soon as the autumn of 2010, high school teachers in Trelleborg may see their paychecks fluctuate depending on how well their pupils score on the tests, following a decision taken by the city’s education committee on Wednesday night.

The decision brings the controversial compensation model forward to the local administrative body governing Trelleborg’s high schools, which is now charged will figuring out how the system will function in practice.

Local politicians are then expected to make a final ruling on the matter in April 2010.

Committee members from the four centre-right Alliance political parties all voted for the proposal, while members from the Social Democratic opposition abstained from participating in the decision.

“The proposal is way too weak and poorly supported,” Social Democrat Johnny Nilsson told the Trelleborgs Allehanda newspaper.

Hemzelius emphasized student performance wouldn’t be the sole determinant of teacher pay, but that it would play an important role under the proposed system.

“It’s an effective instrument for measuring students’ knowledge,” he said of the tests, speaking with the Trelleborg Allehanda newspaper.

“Obviously one’s entire salary shouldn’t depend on students’ performance. Instead it would be a compliment to the current pay system.”

Story continues below…

Two of Sweden’s major teachers unions, the Swedish Teachers Union (Lärarförbundet) and the National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas Riksförbund) have previously expressed disapproval over the proposal.

“You have to take into account the student’s entire situation and not only look at test results. A student’s development encompasses quite a bit more,” Swedish Teachers Union chair Eva-Lis Sirén told the newspaper when the proposal first came up for discussion in February.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:46 September 10, 2009 by byke
While it sounds like a great idea to begin with, this has to be flawed.

Children often move from school to school and their education can never be truly be graded based on one teachers, teachings.

Couple this with school management and the rules and other hinderances put forth by local authorities and skolverket and you have a mess.

I really wonder at times about the intelligence of some of our politicians.
17:36 September 10, 2009 by Puffin
This is without doubt the most stupid decision that I have ever heard of
17:41 September 10, 2009 by calebian22
Just one more reason why politicians are disconnected from the masses. It is reassuring to know that Swedish politicians are just as moronic as American politicians, e.g. No Child Left Behind
17:47 September 10, 2009 by Renfeh Hguh
Oh come off it Puffin, there are plenty of stupid decisions made in this country by people in power who have not thought the who issue through. "most" is a grand statement, but is is certainly up there with the best (worst) of them ha ha

It is typical Swedish to come up with an arse about non-solution to a problem.
18:05 September 10, 2009 by moh
hi....i think they are trying to blame their lack of intelliegence on the their own teachers.

someone shuold help them with a list of factors that affect a childs education
18:16 September 10, 2009 by eZee.se
You're going to have a lot more who were borderlined being given passing grades as well... because by not giving a passing grade not only is the student punished but so is your teacher pal/co-worker/colleague
21:21 September 10, 2009 by Greg in Canada
The problem is that it is more often the parents and not the teachers that should be held responsible for poor academic performance. If a kid comes from a troubled home or from one where education is not highly valued, even the best teachers probably can't turn the kid into an academic achiever. The reality is that stupid parents usually breed stupid kids
22:14 September 10, 2009 by jose_s
yes and no.... Teachers should always try to improve their methods to adequately meet the needs of the students. There will always be those with learning disabilities and they should get the help they deserve. This is a good idea because it will weed out those bad ones who just teach for a "job" not as a a profession. The ones who actually want to make a difference will try to do a better job.... but they need the help from the school districts and parents. There is no "one" person to point fingers at.. it's a job that requires collaboration... teachers, students, parents, etc.... if one is out of the loop then the system will fail. It will probably seem to fail at first.. but with time the errors should be learned from and redevelop the system. I am optimistic that this is a good movement in the right direction....
01:43 September 11, 2009 by justanotherexpat
Ah, another cop-put government plan to deflect attention. Watch now as there comes a national shortage of good teachers, scared off by government "policy". Sound familiar to any other expat? It should do. For those that don't get it, think UK under Thatcher. Ofsted. Nuff said.
08:12 September 11, 2009 by Russ Cobleigh
what happens if you get a group of students who do not like a certain teacher? What if they band together and lower their grades? This is a stupid thing to do. Teachers and firemen should get the highest pay available!
08:38 September 11, 2009 by Xavid
"members from the Social Democratic opposition abstained from participating in the decision"

I see this alot. Swedish polititions are chickens. I seen this with the FRA law as well. Some did not vote at all.

are the polititions supposed to all agree on the same thing or is it not allowed that they have a mixed desicion.
09:11 September 11, 2009 by lossantos67
there are teachers out there that have given up.i think that if teachers were payed on the performance of the students then i will be most certain that a lot of teachers will quit their job.its just like in the "no child left behind".why punish the teachers when kids are not doing their homework and parents do not take responsibility for helping their youngsters.on another hand:it weeds out the teachers that have been doing their job for 20 years,have fallen into a rud ,that rather clip their toe nails then teaching the kids(seen that time and time again in the states)
11:12 September 11, 2009 by Keith #5083
'Performance related' can work great in factories as an incentive to produce more.

As a concept it has merit where the means of production are enhanced by modern equipment and efficient supply of raw materials of adequate quality.

The problem of 'under performers', whether in teaching, Kommune employees and managers,politicians, even pupils and students, is that there is no reasonable or effective methodology for measuring intangibles - like a caring glance, an interested comment, an approving smile.

I am not a teacher - and I would not want to be one if this is the only way 'intelligent minds' can solve the problem of disenchanted teachers.
11:15 September 11, 2009 by skane refugee
Fine with the principle of recognising and rewarding better teachers ...

Where I have a problem is in how does anyone measure exceptional teaching performance?

'Grades out' is hopeless unless you have a good measure for 'grades in' (i.e. at what relative academic standard were the kids when the teacher in question took over)

any measurement system would be subject to manipulation and the whole bonus would become a political power play for the bureaucrat in charge of 'performance appraisal'
11:22 September 11, 2009 by RoyceD
This system ALREADY failed in the States, with dozens of teachers fired in... Chicago i think because they got caught cheating and bumping up some kids grades.

If you want your kids to have a good education then PERHAPS 1 TEACHER TO 30 CHILDREN IS NOT THE BEST STARTING POINT.
16:14 September 11, 2009 by StockholmSam
This will turn out even worse than America's infamous "No Child Left Behind" because in Sweden it is the teachers who grade the national tests!! I have never been able to figure out why they have set it up this way. It is like leaving the key to the cheese cabinet in the hands of the mice. But I really think that Trelleborg ought to proceed with this plan. I think it will fail miserably and I think it is important that others see how badly this option will fail. It has been discussed for years. Let them do it and let's see how it turns out.
00:49 September 12, 2009 by bugface
ISweden has gotten too much like the United States.

Here in the states the teachers' union are too strong and well organized to get any kind of logical reform.

ITeaching now days lack morals, ethics, or love of job. It's all about the mighty dollar, but wait, I think I just read about the dollar being replaced by sweden's money unit.

Or was it Switzerland? I always get the two countries mixed up. I have even been to Switzerland but not Sweden.
16:45 September 12, 2009 by soultraveler3
This is such a bad idea.

While there may be some teachers that don't care if the children learn anything that number has to be small. People don't go to university and then into teaching for the money (in the US they only get about 25k/year.) They do it because they want to help in some small way to make society better.

I agree with the people who stated above that by far the biggest factor in how a child performs in school is directly related to their home life. There are so many screwed up parents now that either don't care, can't be bothered or just don't take the time to do anything with their children, much less help them with homework.

The Swedish government should look at the US with that stupid No Child Left Behind act. It doesn't work. Schools with bad grades on standardized tests get less money. It's lead to schools forcing teachers to only teach material that will be on the test and to good teachers leaving.

Don't punish the few people willing to be teachers, willing to put up with brat kids, willing to put up with little to no respect and willing to work for next to nothing in pay. Even worse they have to deal with completly out of touch parents that think their childs poor performance and behaviour in school couldn't have anything to do with their child or themselves.

I know it will probably never happen but, I wish there was a test you had to pass before you're allowed to have children. You should have to show that you are stable financially, mentally and are responsible enough to take care of another person.
20:09 September 12, 2009 by Heidi-anne
I believe I couldn't have stated soultraveler3's remark any better- I am a special education teacher in New Hampshire (United States). The No Child Left Behind act is a joke gone awry! Teachers aren't respected by the students and/or parents. i have been in this field for 27 years. I love my job, but it is definitely getting difficult to continue on with it- especially dealing with the bureacratic red tape. I would like to continue with my profession for another 3 to 5 years, but I don't know if I am able to do it. Teachers are a dying breed- it isn't the respected profession that it once was 20/30 years ago.
11:33 September 13, 2009 by bugface
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