It's Your Move

2008 Mercury Endorsements Help You Win the Voting Game!


Your ignorance shows in your endorsement for Measure 60. There isn't a Merit Pay scheme that has worked anywhere in this country because it is bad policy that doesn't do anything significant to improve learning or school improvement. Instead it represents a failed belief that good teaching is something you can foster with bribes and competition.
Our thoughts on it are coming from the opposite direction: We're not supporting it in hopes of school improvement, or to bribe teachers to do better. As we wrote, "the best and brightest teachers are the ones who should be rewarded," just as the best and the brightest people in other fields are paid accordingly.
You must have missed the official explanatory statement on Measure 60, signed by the explanatory statement committee (including Bill Sizemore) that says: "In future contracts, cost of living adjustments unrelated to classroom performance are prohibited."

Teachers are paid based on a variety of factors, like advanced degrees, ongoing training and qualifications, taking on additional duties, experience in the classroom, and, yes, even performance evaluations if that's agreed to in the contract.

Measure 60 replaces all that with a vague notion of "classroom performance," which everywhere it's been tried means standardized testing, because there's no other objective standard to quantify students' performance. How would you, Amy, determine who the best and brightest teachers are? Would you and, say, Matt Davis come to the same conclusions about who is "best and brightest"? I'm guessing not, which is fine, except that teachers' salaries will be hanging entirely in that subjective balance across the state under Measure 60.

Everyone agrees that we should explore ways of improving compensation for teachers, but Measure 60 goes so far that it stops that conversation from even happening.

It's a shame you fell for Sizemore's snake oil.
Did The Mercury really side with right wing Bill Sizemore? Measure 60 is one of the most poorly worded documents I have ever seen, and for a publication to side with such a vague initiative is pretty embarrassing. The worst part about the endorsement is the realization that the measure will do nothing but create learning obstacles for students across the state. I love reading The Mercury but you totally dropped the ball on this one!
I don't get it. You support M60 because you are "optimistic" and you think "Bill Sizemore has a point"? Those are both terrible reasons.

This seems like you're just trying to be controversial to drum up some attention.

Please change your decision on this, you're making a mistake.
I agree with everything that has been said in objection to Measure 60. I just don't see any way that this isn't going to lead to more standardized testing. This would not only discourage aspiring teachers from taking difficult assignments, but would also continue to turn education into a shallow exercise in test-prep. Nobody wins, even the kids who are lucky (i.e. rich) enough to get the good teachers.
Measure sixty is nothing more than a continuation of the same old "place more stringent standards on teachers and they will produce more" that smacks of the same puritan work ethic that brought us the 80 hour work week. Education should be about quality and in my opinion, standardize testing rarely has the ability to measure that vector. Perhaps next time we could try pointing the finger of blame at our communities and homes for shouldering the entire burden of our children on teachers rather than passing more bogus legislature.
When "English immersion" is undefined, you recommend voting no on Measure 58, but when "classroom performance" is left undefined, it's an innovative way of holding teachers accountable? Any sort of merit pay system needs to be well thought through in order to engender any kind of results. Call me a cynic, but the lack of structure and accountability displayed in Measure 60 troubles me too much for any optimism to win out.
Voting yes on Measure 60 will almost definitely punish teachers who take on more challenging assignments and increase reliance on standardized testing. Seriously, do you think that a teacher who gets a class of high-scoring, high-achieving honor students is working as hard or taking on as much responsibility as a teacher who works in a class of historically lower-achieving kids who are about to drop out? Do you think that the former teacher deserves more money or recognition than the latter? While I agree that-- in theory--pay should accord with merit (which is, as another commenter said, difficult for schools because the only standard measure of merit is standardized testing), Measure 60 is not the measure to make this happen. It's a measure just vague enough to hoodwink you into endorsing it, while creating even more difficulties than we currently have in our educational system. People listen to what the Mercury says; please change your stance on this.

Also, since when does a Portland alternative newspaper get optimistic about anything Bill Sizemore does?
It seems that the Merc (of all papers!) has bought into Sizemore's nutty logic on Measure 60. Just as the republicans consistently say one thing and do another (Clean Skies Initiative, Healthy Forests Act, Patriot Act, Operation Iraqi Freedom, ect.), Sizemore is continuing to try to dupe the people of Oregon. While it seems logical to reward teachers for their good performance, the methods of measuring that performance are inevitably flawed. The clear failures of No Child Left Behind (another misnomer) should be proof enough that test scores are the exact wrong way to judge a teacher's ability. Oregon's schools are struggling, but if educators that are placed in the toughest districts and schools can't be sure that they'll be able to make a consistent living there, they are going to be even more likely to go elsewhere. For the sake of Oregon's students, I hope that Oregonians join me in voting NO on measure 60.
It's frustrating that a paper with otherwise awesome values would stand behind such regressive educational measure. Both 58 and 60 do not take the needs of students first, and instead look to education as a fine place to cut funding.

Schools and learning MUST be priorities - we as young people should be standing up for the right of students to be given the most robust and comprehensive education.

58 is an anti-immigrant measure. We tell the immigrant community to speak English, and then, what demand they learn within one or two years?

It's not just that 60 may incidentally lead to more standardized testing: it inevitably WILL do so. Race, class, nationality, language, family situation, etc. are all factors weighing on standardized test performance, and to reward teachers who's students fall on the privileged end of these issues is a true injustice to education.

I encourage anyone reading these endorsements to look elsewhere for insights on voting this election.

The undefined nature of "classroom performance" is a plus in this measure, even if it confuses M58. Here's the thing: The standards will be left up to the legislature or school districts to hash out, where teachers will be involved.

Hell, even Barack Obama supports merit pay, and he's for the kind attached to standardized tests. This measure doesn't go anywhere near that far - the standards could be as simple as an evaluation from a supervisor. You know, kind of like how everyone else in the world gets raises. (Same for cost of living: If you meet the basic standard, voila, cost of living raise.)

This is one of those reasonable-people-can-disagree issues that's worth a broader discussion. Unfortunately, because of Sizemore's name attached to it, that discussion isn't had. Instead, we're treated to cries of "unintended consequences" and "too vague."
I am very disappointed in your position on M60. The only reason that you seem to be endorsing it is because "the best and brightest teachers are the ones who should be rewarded,". You don’t seem to be taking into account the many flaws this measure has. It will cost the state and local governments a lot of money to sort this out if it does pass. How does this measure work for special educators? The majority of the students they work with will rarely meet the standards that regular education students are asked to meet and yet they are some of the best and brightest educators out there. How would this work for teachers who teach in low-income schools where there is less support from the community and more issues surrounding poverty? I would argue that those teachers are some of the best and brightest and yet their students would not do as well as students who do not live in poverty and so these teachers would not get raises. Who is going to be willing to work in a school where you are pretty much guaranteed no raise for the hard work that you do for the kids who need it most. We will lose dedicated teachers in low in-come areas. You obviously have not taken any of these issues into account. What a horrible endorsement!
"Our thoughts on it are coming from the opposite direction."

More like "opposite-land".
"The majority of the students they work with will rarely meet the standards that regular education students are asked to meet."

Read the statute the measure would create. It says nothing about students meeting any arbitrary standard. It's about the teacher.
>Unfortunately, because of Sizemore's name attached to it,
>that discussion isn't had. Instead, we're treated to cries of
>"unintended consequences" and "too vague."

Actually you are employing the exact same logic in reverse to refute your critics: Since it's a Sizemore initiative we are blinded by that and can't see how awesome this measure is, and we can't employ the standard arguments that anyone has against his hastily drafted measures or you just say we are Sizemore haters.

Face it, the Merc was suckered like a Florida Jew in 2000.
How about we deal with the reasons why bad teachers cannot be fired? That seems like the place to start rather than turning to Sizemore to fix our education system.

You say you trust teachers and local districts to make the decisions... so why tie their hands and make them focus on "classroom performance"? They should be allowed to consider all relevant metrics to evaluate their peers and employees, and seniority might be a part of that.
I always credit the Mercury for publishing unique and original stories, but to be the only paper in Oregon to actually support Measure 60 is pretty embarrassing. The Bill Sizemore initiative will cost our state millions of dollars to implement, and the result will only be more standardized testing! Of course teachers need to be held accountable but Measure 60 is not the answer! I do not know a single parent, teacher or principal who wants an increase in standardized tests and that is what will happen if Measure 60 is passed. Have you ever heard about No Child Left Behind? Come on Mercury!

As a young Oregonian I want the best teachers taking on the most challenging assignments. If teachers’ pay is based solely on standardized tests no one will be willing to risk their livelihood.

I almost always support the Mercury’s political views but this time I have to disagree and hope your readers realize the harm Measure 60 will cause in Oregon classrooms.
If you think that the merit pay won't be attached to grade level standards you are either ignorant or fooling yourself. You have very little knowledge of how public schools run. Every teacher I have met has been dedicated to students and their learning.
Yes on Measure 60?! Are you kidding?

Here's how this could go. A teacher in a classroom/school with difficult or high needs kids gets graded on their performance, and don't do well because of the population involved. The teacher then leaves the job. Who do you think is going to step up and take that job? The ones that get the shaft are kids, period.

I'm totally disgusted with you guys for endorsing this one.
Obviously you haven't been following Bill Sizemore's track record. Have you seen the other measures he's put on the ballot in recent years? Do you know he is not a teacher nor has ever worked in education? Did you actually read what the measure says? Here, let me quote it for you since you obviously didn't do your homework: under measure 60 teachers' pay raises would depend on " classroom performance". And how do you think most districts will consistently measure performance across the board for all students? That's right: standardized tests. Hey, I am all for getting rid of bad teachers, I am a teacher and I work my ass off and know some teachers who are awful and/or lazy and shouldn't be teaching, but getting rid of bad teachers is up to administrators. If they were actually doing their job, there wouldn't be as many bad teachers. Through a process of evaluation, administrators should be documenting teachers who have poor performance, putting them on plans of assistance and taking steps toward their eventual removal. But this takes work and takes time, most administrators seem too busy to do this part of their job or don't want to deal with the work it takes to get rid of bad teachers.
Anyways, back to measure 60... so most districts will use a standardized test. What about the teacher whose students are English language learners, on academic priority, have learning disabilities or emotional problems and/or are in special education? Do these teachers get paid less because their students don't do as well on these tests? What about the teachers who choose to teach at traditionally low-performing schools? Will everyone fight to be able to teach the Honors classes since they know their students will obviously perform better and get them a pay raise? How about the teachers, like myself, who don't prescribe to the idea that standardized tests actually demonstrate student growth and learning? The teachers who refuse to teach to a test? What about us? I think you need to seriously rethink your position on this measure. A lot of intelligent, liberal - minded people trust your opinion on issues and look to your paper as an alternative to the conservative Oregonian. I am so disappointed it makes me sick.
Your endorsement of Measure 60 shows that none of your staff has been on the working side of a public school. I speak from the perspective of 25 years as a public education teacher with most of those years spent working with students with high impact behaviors. My students all made progress, but little of it would show up on a standardized test. And since most of the administrators I worked under were either afraid to come into my classroom or woefully ignorant of what a program like mine should look like, they were in no way qualified to evaluate me for the purposes of determining my pay. Add to this the fact that we have any number of incompetent administrators who have spent little time in a classroom and you have a recipe for disaster. We are already losing our new teachers due to frustration and low pay. This is not going to help. And oh, by the way...Where is the extra money going to come from to pay the "good" teachers more? Are they going to take it away from all of the others? Before you make endorsements you need to be talking to people who are directly impacted by the issue.
Here's what Amy wrote about Measure 60 just a few short weeks ago:

"MEASURE 60—Another Sizemore measure, this one creates a merit-pay system for public school teachers, instead of paying teachers based on seniority, qualifications, experience, and post-graduate degrees. In other words, teachers in districts where students do well—though the measure doesn't define "classroom performance"—will get raises, while dedicated teachers in districts where students aren't doing as well (arguably, the places you most need well-paid teachers) won't be paid as well."

Did I miss something here?
"Did I miss something here?"

Yes: The rest of our editorial board. Plus our endorsement interviews with folks on both sides of the issue. And our analysis of the statute it would create.
It's interesting that you identify with Bill Sizemore as a "reasonable" person. He has done so much damage to Oregon by abusing the initiative process. His hate filled measures are nothing more than a way to divert real issues from being addressed such as poverty, which has a much greater impact on "classroom performance" than how teachers are paid.
VOTE NO ON 60! Passing measure 60 would practically eliminate Special Ed teachers (their students cannot, by nature, perform to the same standards as regular ed students), punish teachers in the poorer schools or schools with less parental support, and drive those willing to take on the toughest problems from the system. Measure 60 worsens the problem. Please reconsider.
I think you guys should have picked one conservative politician rather than one conservative measure. That would have been more interesting.
Ms. Ruiz, you say that "the best and brightest teachers are the ones who should be rewarded, just as the best and the brightest people in other fields are paid accordingly" I totally agree with you, the best and brightest should be paid more, so should the ones who work the hardest to improve their skills and who continue their education and professional development. But the only way to measure this consistently that we have come up with so far is a standardized test given to students. If this measure would have been created by teachers and others in the education field, it would have included how teachers were going to be measured and evaluated. Don't you get it? The measure is so poorly written that even if you agree with the basic idea that people should be paid more for doing a better job - I think everyone can agree with that- you shouldn't vote for Measure 60.
Are you serious, Sizemore "reasonable"? It is not only because Bill Sizemore is corrupt pile of fetid dogshit, , it is also because this legislation was written by a moron who apparently had one failed teacher after another.
You know what? FUCK all this intelligent discourse. Ms. Ruiz and the rest of The Mercury's editorial board can suck my ass. Same goes for Captain Douchy McFraudpants Bill Sizemore. Are you fucking kidding me? I wouldn't endorse this guy taking a shit, much less any of his slippery and poorly-written ballot measures. Dude is enemy number one in Oregon politics (or at least to anyone with a brain) and you clowns are backing one of his ballot measures?! REALLY?

I am so pissed off that my hands are shaking as I type this. My mom is an incredibly gifted high school teacher and struggles every day to give her kids a decent education in spite of overflowing classrooms, budget cuts, clueless administrators and everything else all the fine educators said in the posts before mine. Adding "merit pay" to this is maze of issues to navigate is yet another slap in the face to people who put their heart and soul into one of the hardest and undervalued jobs in this country.

Go fuck yourselves, Merc.

Put down the coke spoons, try on some pants that don't cut off the circulation to your Iron City-addled brains and wake the fuck up. Sizemore is NO ONE you want associated with your publication.

Shame on you.


You know what? FUCK all this intelligent discourse. Ms. Ruiz and the rest of The Mercury's editorial board can suck my ass. Same goes for Captain Douchy McFraudpants Bill Sizemore. Are you fucking kidding me? I wouldn't endorse this guy taking a shit, much less any of his slippery and poorly-written ballot measures. Dude is enemy number one in Oregon politics (or at least to anyone with a brain) and you clowns are backing one of his ballot measures?! REALLY?

I am so pissed off that my hands are shaking as I type this. My mom is an incredibly gifted high school teacher and struggles every day to give her kids a decent education in spite of overflowing classrooms, budget cuts, clueless administrators and everything else all the fine educators said in the posts before mine. Adding "merit pay" to this is maze of issues to navigate is yet another slap in the face to people who put their heart and soul into one of the hardest and undervalued jobs in this country.

Go fuck yourselves, Merc.

Put down the coke spoons, try on some pants that don't cut off the circulation to your Iron City-addled brains and wake the fuck up. Sizemore is NO ONE you want associated with your publication.

Shame on you.


"But the only way to measure this consistently that we have come up with so far is a standardized test given to students."

It's amazing that people in other fields are able to have their performance judged by an employer without subjecting the customers/clients/readers/patients/patrons/staff/fans to a standardized test.

Under M60, thanks to the "vague" way it's written, we can come up with a creative way to evaluate teachers that takes into consideration the creativity they must employ daily in the classroom. Like a combination of student evaluations, administrator evaluations, parent evaluations, and peer reviews. Subjective standards like this strike us as the way to go, since every teacher and classroom situation is different. And again, the fact that school districts (and teachers, and the teacher's union) could help craft those evaluations or standards puts this measure in line with Sen. Barack Obama's stance on merit pay. From MSNBC:

"The most controversial aspect of any discussion of teacher compensation is merit pay,” Obama said, “and I know that folks here object to the idea properly that if you are being measured and paid simply by how the child is doing on a test without taking into account what that child is coming to the school with, ... if it's all based on assessments made on No Child Left Behind, then it's not fair to pay teachers who are pouring their heart out based on some of these arbitrary measures."

He pledged to work with the NEA and teachers' unions to determine a new system for accountability. "What I want to do is work with teachers, and where we can work with teachers to come up with ways to set those kinds of professional standards, then I want to be part of that process,” Obama said. “But I'm not going to do it to you; I'm going to do it with you."

We agree with that, and we think M60 encompasses that spirit. One last thing: The word "test" does not appear in the statute, despite what you might read in opponents' voter guide statements. (Read the statute:…)
> It's amazing that people in other fields are able to have their
> performance judged by an employer without subjecting the
> customers to a standardized test.

Maybe because there aren't dozens of laws that these industries have to conform to, passed by well meaning idiots and special interests?

> Under M60, thanks to the "vague" way it's written, we can come
> up with a creative way to evaluate teachers that takes into
> consideration the creativity they must employ daily in the
> classroom.

Yeah, just like the "vauge" funding details in NCLB turned into such a success! Weird call to try to glom onto Obama's popularity but merit pay is a seperate issue from undefined terms like "seniority", "classroom performance" and "successfully teaching."

It obvious that the Merc doesn't understand how education policy would be enacted. All schools would have to be treated equal under the law so I have no idea where you get this idea that "vague" translates to "grassroots input" and "local control".

> Read the statute:

I read it, now about *you* read the financial impact statement and the arguments for (one of which is a Sizemore plea not to think he's a bad guy) and against. Now how about you interview some local people who know what they are talking about and see what they think? Isn't that how editorial boards work, or do you have a dart board?
It seems like it's time for the Merc to admit they made a mistake on this one. Trust is a two-way street and if we the readers are to continue to trust your editorial choices and stories, then you also have to trust when your readers point out an error.

I think if you talk to some teachers and spend more time on this issue (as these comments indicate you should) you will likely start to doubt your initial endorsement. (If you want, I can put you in touch with some teachers.)

There is a lot of shock and anger in these comments, but the Merc should know that the anger comes from a sense of betrayal. It's like finding out your boyfriend voted for Bush.

Don't mistake the three pages of comments here as a sign that you have created a discourse. You are losing our trust and we're going to just start reading the Willy Week. I'm serious.
I appreciate the comments, Mikey, but we've spent more time on this measure than any of the others. Given Sizemore's reputation, we didn't come to the decision lightly, and it's not an error. (On another note, we love correcting factual errors, but endorsements are opinions.)

Merit pay is an issue where people disagree. We don't oppose it, lots of people do. Which leaves us with potential problems this particular iteration of merit pay might contain. From our analysis, debate, and discussion, we felt comfortable with the statute it would create, and saw great potential for it to lead to a hearty discussion on the best way to great teachers with the respect they deserve. Especially your mom, Isis: If she's incredibly gifted, lets put our money where our mouth is, and treat her well.
I'd also like to know where the funds for the "combination of student evaluations, administrator evaluations, parent evaluations, and peer reviews" are going to come from, seeing as many schools can't afford to offer basic art or music classes, much less have access to the kind of resources to staff, administer and monitor multiple multi-layered educator reviews.

Plus I've got a funny feeling that the NEA wouldn't touch Bill Sizemore with a ten-foot pole made out of cat poop, much less work with the S.O.B.


Recently published research clearly shows that the "best and brightest" are rarely successful at things. From personal knowledge, most members of Mensa are like Comic-book-guy on the Simpsons. Smart and socially unskilled in the extreme.

Research shows that people who are more socially skilled are in almost all cases significantly more successful, and this includes in the profession of teaching.

As I'm sure you experienced in your schooling teachers that were brilliant but that couldn't teach a fire fly to blink. My best teachers were fun, humorous, saw the absurdity of things and took us on a delightful, mind-expanding trip.

The problem with any Sizemore measure currently up for vote, and especially Measure 60, is that it appears that Mr. Sizemore is putting together measures in a slap-dash, give-a-damn manner apparently just to get them on the ballot so as to make sure that he can continue to live an affluent life-style. This, apparently in violation of a court order.

I doubt Mr. Sizemore cares one way or the other if any of his measures pass at this point in his life. From the quality of the thought and precision of language in his current year's crop, he wrote these while suffering a hang over or between trips to his Mexican time share.

My concern is we may vote in one of his typically ill-conceived measures creating a law that will cost us a fortune to sort out later.

I agree, merit pay for teachers has merit.

This year's measures as penned by Mr. Sizemore do not.

Vote no, purely in self-defense.

I remain,

Jacomus d'Paganus-Fatuus
One more point, Mikey, on reading WW instead. You should check them out, especially what they wrote on this measure. I think you'll find that the substance of our opposing endorsements is largely the same.

They do land on the no side: "We like the fact that Sizemore wants to dislodge seniority as the primary way a teacher can get more money. What we object to is his initiative’s ridiculous requirement that seniority have no role in a teacher’s pay.

That said, Sizemore is on to something here..."

What the measure says about seniority: "pay raises for public school teachers shall be based upon each teacher’s classroom performance and not related or connected to his or her seniority."

The difference between the two papers is that we don't have as dire a read on that sentence as WW does. The way we see it, the language means that a teacher isn't paid at a specified level because they've been on the job for five years, and an administrator isn't tallying up the years on the job when figuring out the annual raise. However, we're talking about determining pay raises, which by definition means a person's pay is going up year after year. Which then means that teachers who have been around longer will be paid more, thanks to cumulative raises.
> Which leaves us with potential problems this particular
> iteration of merit pay might contain.

Are we getting closer to an eventual goal? I don't get it. This isn't something we'll improve on later, this is something the public could be stuck with for years.

> From our analysis, debate, and discussion, we felt
> comfortable with the statute it would create,

Everyone that knows anything about education or law seems to disagree. I'm curious who provided the legislative insight.

> great potential for it to lead to a hearty discussion on the
> best way to great teachers with the respect they deserve.

A "discussion" that will cost between $30 and $60 million dollars year-over-year for a cash-starved public school system.
Dope anti-Palin threads aren't just for Willy Week readers.

Check out:

Designed and approved by Alaskans from small towns.
Kudos to you on your no recommendation on Measure 65. It was crafted by two people who have axes to grind with their politcal parties and is intended to end party politics in Oregon. A very bad idea.

As far as the crime measures are concerned, I am voting no on both 57 and 61. I don't think the state can afford either one.

61 was purely the result of Kevin Mannix wanting to come up with some political capital so he went back to his only successful idea in the past (Meas 11) and pulled another "tough on crime" idea out of his left ear. The legislature had to respond because of the disastrous fiscal consequences of 61.

By the way, I am voting against both these measures despite the fact that I am a property crime victim. My house was burglarized in November of 2006.

I also applaud your endorsement of Alley. We need a financial person in the treasurer's office. I am not sure I agree with your view of Westlund. Some see his migration from R to I to D as courageous; I see it as politcal exediency, pure and simple. He aspires to high office and you don't get there in Oregon without a D next to your name.
I'm curious, you keep saying that merit pay won't be based on student performance, so what in you mind do you think it will be based on? You did say you had discussions about M60 the most so this must've come up. Have any of you that made this decision ever even been in a public school? It really sounds like you haven't.
Maybe it comes from the limited space you had in the paper to write up the endorsement for M60, but it seems like there is clearly a lot of interest in this subject and the Merc could devote some more space to explaining their position on the issue.

If in your research on the matter you found examples of merit based pay working in the field, I'd love to know about it. Also, what about the current structure is so flawed? What is your best case scenario about how this will all shake out, and why do you think that? Who did you talk to and what did they say? Why is every progressive organization AGAINST this measure?

Clearly your readers are having a hard time with this.
Do you think public school teachers aren't already trying their damndest to be the best teachers they can possibly be? I understand incentive regimes, and I'm all for giving teachers more pay, but maybe we can incentivize better teachers by giving them all the money that Sizemore wants to spend on the prison-industrial complex in a state that already spends more money on carceration than on education.
Yeah, so I’m writing in reference to the douche baggery of Nick Kahl. He’s running for state rep in East County. He’s in one of those floofy new age jazz groups. All swishy and fizzy with a pussy ass never-never land hip hop backbeat. It was enough to straighten even Kenny G’s mop. Should of named the album: I Brake for Rainbows. He’s also a sweaty overweight bass player (how original). He stopped by my house and tried to relate to me because I play in a band, and I tried to be nice, but just had to shut the door on him before I accidentally blurted out: “Don’t stand… don’t stand so… don’t stand so kahlostomy.”
Bag o’ douche, even by politician’s standards.
Portland Mercury you shock me. I counted on you to give some good advice this election season! I went through your voting suggestions, for the most part agreeing and filling in my ballot bubbles, until I stopped cold on measure 60. You must be kidding. Vote yes? And you call yourself a progressive and community oriented paper? Maybe you don't, I guess that's an assumption. Anyway, I am a public school teacher and I oppose this measure as do 99.9 % of teachers!!! Did you not notice that the teacher's union strongly opposes this measure? This is not because we're a bunch of slackers. If you actually know any teachers you will know how hard we work and for how little money. This measure will ensure that no teachers in Oregon ever get a significant raise again unless lawsuits are filed. Merit based pay? Which will undoubtedly be tied to student standardized test scores? In a huge bureaucracy where teachers receive very little positive reinforcement and struggle with a daily landslide of issues beyond their control, this is not fair. Standardized tests are narrow, unrealistic, and do not take into account a myriad of factors and subject areas. This will be one big green light to cut costs on teacher salaries, which are already shamefully low. The small increase in salary that teachers do receive each year which barely covers an increase in cost of living should not be taken away. This is another step in the direction of complete erosion of the public school system, ensuring that only the rich will be educated. Do your homework next time; I give you a failing grade on this one. I might consider you redeemed if you ran a LARGE retraction of this immediately before some of your trusting readers make the mistake of taking your advice on this one!
Ok, now that I read Amy Ruiz's comments I am even more infuriated. Amy, you don't know what you're talking about. You may have done some research on this, but you have not worked in a public school, and you should have talked to someone who has. Your comment:

"Under M60, thanks to the "vague" way it's written, we can come up with a creative way to evaluate teachers that takes into consideration the creativity they must employ daily in the classroom."

is ridiculous. Who is 'we?' I can tell you who; not teachers. And the vague way that it is written is not a positive, it's a negative. This is an open door to screw teachers, period. Your other comment that this would not reduce teacher pay but would be an addition, is also uninformed. This would would mean that no teachers would get raises unless they performed successfully for whatever mystery assessment gets devised. Teachers unions have fought long and hard to have the small pay increases and the salary schedule that is currently in place, why would you support undermining that? Amy you have just massively dropped the ball on this. I love Barack but just because he's a fan of merit based pay doesn't mean it's right, and as soon as he's in the White House I intend to start sending him letters about it.
Does anyone on the Merc staff know how much time teachers already spend on standardized tests and teaching kids how to take them? I would guess not, this measure will surely increase the amount of time wasted on that when they should be writing and learning critical thinking skills.

Gee, let's see who else says to Vote No on Measure 60.

Oregon Education Association
Oregon PTA
Basic Rights Oregon
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Oregon AFL CIO
Stands for Children
The Oregonian

Face it, on this one you are WRONG.
yeah the best and brightest teachers sometimes want to challenge themselves and teach at schools in poorer socio-economic areas and when doing so it is a total crap shoot as to whether or not their students are going to be able to meet the standards. they deal with issues such as larger class sizes (therefore less individual instruction time for each student), less supportive families who may not give them the time and attention they need to succeed, students who come from immigrant families and arent as prepared for the rigors of an english speaking school, im not wording these issues very well, but one of my family members is a teacher at a school located in a poorer part of town, and she is one of the best and brightest teachers that PPS has, she gives them her time, energy, money (buying supplies, books, and anything else to try to help her students succeed), and most of all enthusiasm, but if this bill passes, she may not see pay raises due to the crop of kids that go through her classroom every year, you folks are WAY out of touch on this one, merit based pay will only make teachers want to stay away from the worse schools and go to schools in nicer neighborhoods where they can put forth less effort, have smaller class sizes, and more supportive parents in order to help their own financial gain, im sorry Amy but your comment does not take into account people such as my family member, who does the school system proud with her effort, ability and passion, ESPECIALLY choosing to put this towards children who need teachers like her more than other schools. She does not take the easy route here, she challenges herself, because as a teacher, she wants her kids to succeed and does everything she can to help them along that path, and yet you support basing her pay on what their standardized test score are, you guys missed the boat entirely on this one and should be ashamed, maybe you should go out and interview some real teachers from poorer schools before making your decision.......
I stumbled upon this after filling out my ballot, and I have to say M60 is the one disagreement I was surprised to find (we disagreed a few other places, but M60 is evil).
Hey, Amy, if the entire Mercury editorial board is behind Measure 60, why are you the only one defending the endorsement? I'm guessing that your annual pay raise isn't predicated upon standardized testing, so I can't imagine why you're so adamant that anyone else's should be, particularly in light of the uneven playing field that is public education...
I'm not completely opposed to the idea of merit pay for teachers, but I'd rather wait and see what President Obama comes up with before endorsing that nutball's Measure 60.

I don't trust school districts to come up with fair and consistent ways of implementing this measure. I've seen some really freaking ignorant people serve on school boards. You know, the depressingly misinformed and bigoted folks at the McCain/Palin rallies--those kind of people. And I've seen school administration so full of petty little corruptions that it can't function properly. It's like the chain of command on The Wire or something.

There are reasons why teachers in the US organized and unionized, and some of 'em are actually really good reasons.
How very embarrassing for Amy. I'm sure there's nothing I could say that hasn't been said already.

P.S. Thanks for the link, Matt. I'd appreciate it if you un-banned me from your blog.

My mother, too, was a teacher, and she can tell countless tales of uncommitted, unqualified students whom she wished hadn't come to school. Yet she went in everyday and did her job the best she could. Had she been working within a system of "merit pay," by which she'd been judged on the performance of her students as defined by narrow parameters such as standardized testing, she'd have gotten the short shrift.

What's with you folks? Why are you so adamant in defending such an obviously flawed measure? Those of us who oppose this measure are not simply against "the concept of merit pay," nor do most of us, I would argue, believe that you've endorsed this measure merely to "incite a discussion." Give us some credit, we're a little more sophisticated than that. We're in favor of a system that takes into account all of the factors that should play into teachers' salaries: performance, qualifications, seniority and, yes, cost of living. Those are the criteria by which my colleagues in the allied health care industry and I get our annual pay raises, and most of us, along with our union, wouldn't have it any other way. If the "concept of merit pay" existed in a vacuum, it would be a fine way to reward teachers, but the fact is that there are far too many variables at play in the field of education for merit pay by itself to constitute anything resembling a fair criterium for teacher compensation.

My mother was not only a dedicated teacher, but also a very active negotiator for her union, and regularly faced off against administrators (who in many cases happened to be close friends) in order to protect that which was due her and her colleagues. That the Mercury would endorse a measure such as this is nothing short of an insult to all those who strive for a level playing field. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
> More here.

If by "more" you mean Sizemore-apologist then yes.

Seriously, I encourage everyone to read Matt's link: Being a father of public school students means you are qualified to administer the state's education system? Makes me wonder why you didn't like Palin more with that logic...

Sizemore is *not* corrupt? Have you even done a google search on the guy?!

You think this measure will attract teachers to public schools that would normally go private? Can we please get some more ink from the so-called "editorial board" explaining these wild claims and conclusions?
I don't usually comment on these, but I'm really floored that the Mercury endorses Measure 60.
I absolutely agree with the previous comment that this measure will result in more standardized testing. What then happens is that teachers at the lowest performing schools will get penalized, when in fact, we should be creating incentives for those teachers. Don't we want to attract quality teachers to the schools where they're needed most? For the sake of the kids and teachers who would get shafted by this, please vote NO!
I'm a teacher. I would decline an offer to work in a school that has struggling scores on academic performance because of this law. I cannot afford to risk my income.

This law would take the "best and brightest" from the kids that need them most.

Mercury: your decision on this one is risky, and it scares me to think what your "hope for the best" optimism will do for the children in this state. Teachers cannot afford to "hope for the best" when it comes to caring for their own families.
Measure 60 is a tough call, guys. Even the League of Women Voters chooses not to make a vote suggestion. Let's not rip eachother apart on this one. Devote your effort to getting some attention to the more important issues. Talk to your loved ones and elders.

I'd like to add that there is little difference in whether a D or R occupies the seat of Secretary of State and that the Green Party actually benefits from your vote even if their candidate does not win the seat.
Thanks for the partisan douche-baggery, Sean. On-topic, clearly.
I'd vote against 60 just because Sizemore is behind it. This self absorbed shit disturber has pissed me off too much to win one thing. Now on the the merits...Prop 60 is the wrong tool for evaluation on teacher performance. Take it to your school board. Portland Mercury rarely misses this badly. You guys deserve the shit storm your getting.
From the LMV site:

"No position" on a ballot measure does not indicate neutrality; it means that the League of Women Voters of Oregon Board of Directors does not feel that we have the research and member agreement to either support or oppose these issues.

The difference between LWV and the Merc is that LWV has the intellectual honesty to say they can't make a call and they are clear that "No position" does not mean neutrality, just an inability to research the measure and come to a consensus. (vagueness apparently isn't a selling point to everyone)

I get the impression that the Merc "editorial" board thought they needed to support or oppose every item, and so when put to the test on M60 they pulled a Colbert and went with the option that had the most "truthiness".
Alas, though I usually rely on the Merc to help me determine my votes, I'll have to skedaddle over to the (gag) WilliWeek for a possibly more sensible take on Measure 60. Side with Bill Sizemore? Please.
I am so confused by this endorsement of Measure 60. Does the Mercury believe that all students in the state of Oregon come into our classrooms with the same backgrounds and education, and that the only thing holding students back is that their teachers aren't motivated by money?

Shouldn't the "best and the brightest" teachers be encouraged to teach in the schools where they are needed the most? Doesn't this measure have a mechanism built in to encourage teachers to go to schools where they are most likely to get high standardized test scores? Am I just rambling here? I'm so angry I could just spit and piss. Measure 60 reeks of NCLB and I think it was a really dangerous move for the Mercury to endorse it! I can only hope that voters won't be swayed by this endorsement!
really??? yes on Measure 60??? wow. hope your kids do well on standardized testing, cause that will be their teacher's main focus if this shit passes and i guess thats good real life training, cause you know most problems i run into day to day invovle a #2 pencil & a scantron sheet. riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

can people get the fuck off of teachers already? the reason kids are doing SO badly in school has waaaaaaaaaay more to do with negelctful uninvolved parents than it has to do with teachers.
teachers are not only expected to make a kid who comes to school w/o breakfast, w/o proper sleep, w/o homework & magically make them do well on a test? and then the teacher is judged on that?
Bill Sizemore wouldn't last 15 minutes in a class full of 8th graders.
I don't know much about Measure 60 but I think it's pretty funny that if you read the wikipedia article on it, you're the only paper out of 14 different oregon-based publications (including ww) that says vote yes.

Any comments?
While a spirited debate would be nice, I suspect that the Merc has gone into "head in sand" mode on this issue, davemode. Embarrassing, but not surprising.
I know this subject is being beaten to a pulp, but I recommend reading the teacher test cheating chapter in Freakonomics. Basically, giving a huge economic incentive for teachers to maybe "correct" a few kids' answers on a standardized test is less than wise.
You really should have spoken with some Pixelworks employees whose jobs were shipped to China (basically all of them) before endorsing Allen Alley. He made massive blunders buying useless companies before letting everyone go. Dog catcher? OK. Treasurer? I sure hope not.
I don't understand why extra pay for seniority is such a "bad" thing. I suppose you could argue that there are tenured teachers who, one they become such, stop being good teachers and just sit on their ass making money and taking advantage of the system. Yeah, there are some teachers like that. Just like there are some poor people who take advantage of welfare. This isn't a good enough reason for me to do away with something because of a few bad people. Pay that is partially based on seniority (as well as degrees, inservice training, and other upkeep) encourages teachers to stay in their community and build relationships with parents and their fellow teachers. Many of these people have put a lot of work and effort into something that has become increasingly difficult for them (one of my teacher friends, for example, cited how when she began teaching over 20 years ago, she had maybe one autistic kid and no ADHD kids. Recently, she had two and four, respectively, as well as 5 ESOL students and a meth addict's daughter). Every year, her job gets anything but easier, and her students' scores will fluctuate. Where would this put her if Measure 60 passed?
Ok, so the M60 issue. I generally agree- better teachers should be paid better. I felt it was actually pretty bold of you cats to endorse it and it did further conflict me about this measure. In the end however, this line made up my mind:

"We trust school districts to come up with a fair way to evaluate their teachers."

I don't.

But thanks anyway!
Whew, no passage for M60. The Merc avoids a torch-and-pitchfork waving mob showing up at their office today.
How about a ombud style article about your stand on M60? If you want to be taken seriously as a news source you will have to point the spotlight at yourself once in a while.
Blueoregon has a great article describing how M60 is NOT the same as "merit pay", supported by Obama.…

Took me 10 seconds of Googling to find this, which leads one to ask what the "Editorial Board" of the Merc does to research these measures.

Candidates get an interview (and if they don't show up apparently you just flip a coin based on your article), but what do you do for ballot measures?
Did M64 end up passing?
Bond measure results? Zoo, PCC and the kids?
Oh, here it is. Everything passed, even the Zoo bond. Yay, Portland will have psychologically damaged elephants in city limits for years to come!…
Wow, is almost usable now... surprising. They have upgraded to a 2002-era website at last!
Should Merc have sections for News and Opinion?