Private sector employees who perform excellently are usually rewarded with a promotion, a raise or a bonus. In the public sector, evaluations of job performance are reluctantly made; often one moves up the income ladder just by hanging in there, i.e., seniority.
But now Americans are demanding accountability from their public employees, especially in education where there's a sense - fair or not - that poor teaching has led to poor student grades.
Hence many school districts are starting to use financial incentives to encourage public school principals and teachers to strive for excellence. The Aiken County Board of Education is to be applauded for moving to develop its own program.
At first, and in line with state guidelines, it will apply to the 38 principals in the school district. They'll be rated "exemplary," "proficient" or "improvement needed,' says Dr. Frank Roberson, the county's associate superintendent of instruction.
One third of the principals will be evaluated each year over a three-year period. Bonuses, as deserved, will be handed out the following school year.
This is a good program for principals. As School Superintendent Linda Eldridge says, the best way to demonstrate the school system has some outstanding principals is through the evaluation process.
Let's not stop there. Teachers and other public school employees should also be rewarded with bonuses for a job well done, says School Board Chairman John Bradley, and we hope he'll succeed in persuading the other trustees.
If the education system is to ever climb out of the pit of mediocrity which it has dug for itself it needs to demonstrate, especially to young people selecting a career, that the system can tell the difference between excellence and mediocrity.