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Taos High School teacher rejects Gov. merit pay

Updated: 06/30/2014 11:23 PM | Created: 06/30/2014 11:05 PM
By: Tom Joles, KOB Eyewitness News

Many would take a $5,000 bonus for doing a good job based on merit.

One Taos High School teacher bucked popular opinion and declined the offer from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

"The idea that the state would need to offer me a bonus to do my job, frankly is insulting,” AP Literature and Composition instructor Francis Hahn said.

Even if the check would've provide him and his wife a honeymoon.

“I'd love to have the bonus check,” he said. “My wife and I haven't had a honeymoon. We've been married 8 years. On my salary, we just can't book those plane tickets yet.”

In 2012, his students were so successful in state testing that he was offered the bonus merit pay. However, he questioned its fairness and refused the check.

“It was a tough choice. Part of me said, 'you have worked hard, you do deserve it,'” he said. “Because so many people contribute to the education of these students for whom I was being rewarded, I couldn't in good conscience accept this money that my colleagues weren't receiving.”

In a statement, the state PED positively acknowledged Hahn’s decision. “We know these efforts are leading the way in helping New Mexico’s students,” the statement read in part.

PED officials also said the state’s students ranked first in Advanced Placement test nationally. Governor Susana Martinez made education reform a clear goal in her first term and touts its level of success in her re-election efforts.

She has also made it clear, along with education designate Hannah Skandera, that they don’t think all teachers are doing a good job and merit pay is one way to award the teachers succeeding in the classroom.

Hahn sees things differently.

“Teachers, education, is not wall street. Teachers don't work for bonuses. We work for the kids,” he said. “Perhaps there are people in our government in our state who believe teachers need to be incentivized to do their jobs. But picking a good teacher here and there isn't a good way to do that.”


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