More Merit Pay, Less Snark

Reihan gently (though more or less rightly) takes me to task for snarkiness in my last post on merit pay (wherein I linked to a Gawker post about record bonuses for Wall Street) and reader JL writes in to say whatever you have against Wall Street, they do believe in merit pay. So, to clarify, here’s what I think

1) No one thinks merit pay is the “biggest problem” facing education reform, true, but it receives a tremendously disproportionate amount of attention in education debates because of a media (and elite) obsession with the evils of teachers’ unions. I agree with Reihan that is isn’t in the “top 100” reasons for poor education outcomes.

2) There is no real evidence that either a) unionzation or b) merit pay improves student performance once you regress out all the confounding variables.

3) Wall Street bonuses are not responsible for the parlous state of American schools in poor neighborhoods (the culprit there, I’d say, is poverty).

4) Wall Street does have a form of merit pay, but obviously merit is a much easier thing to quantify when it comes to returns on investments than it is when it comes to student performance.

5) That correlation between performance and pay on Wall Street, and in Greenwhich isn’t always so obvious. Uner Charles Prince, Citigroup bought up about of $11 billion worth of subprime-backed CDO‘s that are now more or less worthless. He was forced out of his job…and walked away with $40 million.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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