I always felt like teachers like the one portrayed in the article — who understand and relate to their students, who are past the basics of classroom management, who are committed to teaching over the long haul, but are pedagogically not very sophisticated — are the key test for urban school administration and professional development. In the long run, you have to be able to reach those people, they have to be your foundation, or you are screwed. The idea that you're going to fix your school system by laying these people off first, is, like Russo says, "particularly goofy." As is the idea that giving these folks financial incentives will improve their instruction.
The weirdest single moment of the Michelle Rhee Q&A I attended last week at the Graduate School of Business came after she reported enthusiastically that nearly 1,000 teachers "were being moved out" at the end of this school year. (That's a euphemism couched in the passive voice, for anyone keeping score.) Someone behind me asked where her successor planned to find their replacements and whether or not her own policies have had the unintended effect of discouraging recruitment. Her answer was "more merit pay."
The results of this experiment will be in shortly, right?