Flawed system may hurt public professors

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s latest plan to pay university professors based on student population and performance has more holes than Swiss cheese.

The idea has recently been brewing in Texas and Scott is also considering the concept. The plan would connect public college professors’ pay to the number of students they teach and how well they do on student satisfaction surveys.

How is this plan flawed? Let me count the ways. First, the amount of students in a classroom isn’t a proper way to determine pay. A professor with a class of 20 students might hold in-depth, roundtable discussions and take the time to read and critique everything a student writes, while working just as hard, if not harder, than a professor with a lecture-style class of 250 who barely notices when a student doesn’t attend.

As the cliche goes, quantity does not dictate quality, so trying to correlate pay and the number of students in a classroom shows a true lack of thought put into this plan.

Another issue with this proposal is the idea that student survey results should determine a teacher’s pay. The truth is, no matter how well someone teaches, there’s always a vindictive student who blames his or her poor grades on the teacher, not a lazy work ethic.

The Internet is full of websites like ratemyprofessors.com where students rant and whine about how awful teachers are, and how their joy in life is to watch students suffer. Not all reviews are quite so dramatic, but students tend to write through a biased lens.

On the flip side, those surveys could open up a torrent of bribery attempts. Professors could entice students to give them positive reviews by raising their grades. There are too many “what-ifs” in this scenario, and not everyone has enough integrity for the system to work properly.

Professors already have a difficult job in preparing their students for the real world. The last thing the government should be doing is adding more stress by making their pay dependent on such variable and trivial factors.

Ashley Martinez is a freshman majoring in journalism.

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Ashley Martinez
Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.