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Most teachers don't work in a merit based system, so they are "ignorant" to how that works.

I absolutely agree that this is an issue. I spent 7 years working as an engineering consultant after I got my Ph. D. (chemical engineering). This time gave me a lot of insight into the "real" world as well as into how your performance guides your compensation. One year, I did not do well. I got no bonus or raise while others got 3-5% raises and small bonuses. Another year, I managed the most profitable project in the history of the company. I got a bonus equal to 2 months of my salary plus a 10% raise at a time when the company as a whole was giving an average bonus equal to one-week of salary and ~2% raises. So I am very familiar with this aspect of the world!

I think it would be best if all teachers had this experience. Unfortunately, few people are willing to take the type of pay cut that I accepted in becoming a teacher. It is not an exaggeration to say that I currently make one-third of what I could make in other areas with my background, experience, and ability. I do it for personal reasons and I have never regretted the move. But I don't blame others with my background and ability from deciding they cannot take that kind of hit against their pay.

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