Patrick Hayes is a third-grade teacher in Charleston, South Carolina, who is bravely battling those who are destroying public education and the teaching profession in the guise of “reform.”

South Carolina has one of the highest numbers of children living in poverty, which is a reliable predictor of poor academic performance. But reformers don’t talk about poverty. They talk about “bad” teachers, “lazy” teachers, teachers who need to be incentivized with a bonus to do their job.

In this newspaper article, Hayes thoroughly debunks these slanders against the teachers he works with daily.

He writes:

“Nobody envies Charleston County School District leaders.

“How would you recruit, retain, and motivate teachers with salaries below those of comparable districts?

“Would you start with an approach that teachers have told you they don’t like?

“Would you gamble on one with an extensive record of failure?

“The district’s plan to replace its current pay structure with merit pay is just such an approach.

“Merit pay appeals to many people. They just aren’t CCSD teachers. In a survey, only 1 percent responded favorably.

“Somehow, a system that teachers distrust is supposed to attract, retain and motivate them.

“CCSD’s plan goes further than just dangling bonuses. By 2015, it would withhold promised salary increases and make teachers hit targets to win them back.

“It would also use unreliable data to threaten their jobs.

“Working in schools for 18 years, I’ve never noticed a motivation problem.

“Most teachers come early and stay late, trundling out to their cars with armloads of work.

“Some get better results than others. All of them care deeply about how things turn out.

“That’s probably why merit pay has failed to raise student achievement each of the many times it’s been tried.”

Teachers won’t profit from merit pay, but Mathematica Policy Research will.

Even though MPR knows how flawed “value-added” rankings are, how they fluctuate from year to year, it is being paid $2.9 million to design a test-based accountability system for the teachers of Charleston.

By the way, as Hayes points out, only three states have a higher child poverty rate than South Carolina.

Forget about that. It is time to give a fat contract to find and fire those bad teachers.