“Merit Pay,” Taylor Wucinich (2011) — Inquiry 4

For this fourth inquiry, I composed two public service announcement (PSA) scripts, concerning teacher merit pay. In my first PSA a woman, playing the role of a mother, was speaking to an audience of parents about the risks and potential harm of merit pay for teachers. In the second PSA, two teachers (male and female) speak to their colleagues about their concerns for merit pay. The rhetorical appeals of pathos and logos are used in both PSAs to persuade the audiences. The mother in the first PSA expresses her concern for her child because she doesn’t want him to feel so much pressure from his teachers to do well, as a result of Obama’s revision to the No Child Left Behind Act. In this PSA, a child’s voice is a strong use of pathos as well, stressed and worried about his test. The teachers in the second PSA are against merit pay, attempting to persuade their fellow colleagues to feel the same. Pathos helps relate to the audience and logos gives the PSA facts to back their argument.

Merit Pay and Education PSAs



Woman: My son’s school has adopted this new “plan” from Obama’s revision to the No Child Left Behind Act.

Woman: His teachers are being monetarily rewarded for just doing their job. They call it “merit based pay”.

Woman: But is this really benefiting my son and enriching his education?

Boy: Moooomm, my head hurts! I can’t study anymore. I’m nervous I’m going to do bad. Mrs. Drexel said, if we don’t do well, we won’t get recess.

Woman: Does this sound familiar?

Woman: There is enough pressure on my son to do well, but now his teachers are putting even more pressure on him; and maybe just for their own benefit.

Woman: Merit pay is based solely on the results of standardized tests, which have been proven to be inaccurate.

Woman: I want my son’s teachers to create a fun filled, enriched learning environment. This means focusing on more than just test preparation.

Woman: Merit pay is not going to help our children learn.

Woman: Get involved in your child’s school and request for no merit pay salaries.

Woman: That way, NO child will be left behind!

Voice Actors: Woman– K.W.; Boy– O.W.



Man: Calling all teachers!

Woman: Do we want to be judged by our students test scores alone?

Man: We may lose our job.

Woman: We may lose our tenure.

Man: Obama’s revision to the No Child Left Behind Act calls for rewarding teachers, whose students achieve high-test scores, with merit based pay.

Woman: Tenure, credentials and everything we’ve worked so hard for won’t matter anymore.

Man: The only thing that will are those test scores, which, by the way, have been proven over and over to be inaccurate.

Woman: Let’s face it…. our profession is a collaborative effort and merit pay will cause competition and separation among teachers and administrators.

Man: We need to remember why we chose this profession: to make a difference in a child’s life and prepare them for their future.

Woman: Talk to your colleagues and administrators about preventing merit pay in your school.

Man: It’s our duty.

Woman: That way, NO child will be left behind!

Voice Actors: Woman– K.W.; Man– J.W.

In both PSAs, I used a casual tone to help the audience relate to the PSAs, reflecting an everyday conversation, so the audience would not be turned off or intimidated. My PSAs are timely and relevant because currently in 2010, revisions are being done to the No Child Left Behind Act; concerning merit pay.  Some schools across the nation have already adopted Obama’s plan and are giving teachers (K-12) an incentive if their students’ test scores show improvement. Instead of punishing schools, like Bush’s original No Child Left Behind Act, Obama calls for rewarding schools. This current public education issue is affecting all public school districts in the United States.

For my second PSA, I was originally going to use one woman’s voice, playing the role of a teacher. Then, I was given the suggestion to use different voices (a male and a female), to act as teachers, and I decided to apply that suggestion. I believe that decision made my PSA stronger, as it appeals to both genders of teachers, widening my target audience. In addition I changed the word “you” to “we”, in the script, to emphasize a united front.

During the process of this fourth inquiry, I learned a lot about rhetoric. I realized that pathos is key to catching your audience’s attention because that is what first attracts an audience. Also, the message must be clear and concise: too many words will bore your audience and catchy “hooks” (“That way, NO child will be left behind.”) will be remembered by the audience. Once you have them listening, logos is needed to prove to the audience that the argument is strong and relevant.

If I had more time, I would include music and sound effects. In my first PSA I might have the mom driving her son to school, add a honking horn, and the boy saying “Bye mom!” This would create pathos and give the audience a visual description. For my second PSA, I might find music to add in the background to attract the audience, again appealing to pathos. In both PSAs, I felt that background sound effects would have distracted the listener from receiving the message.

Finally, I believe that both my PSAs have the best rhetorical appeals of logos and pathos that will persuade my audiences to not only believe that merit pay will have a negative affect, but also will encourage them to do something about it!






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Robins, Maureen P. “Give Teachers A Raise, Not A Tip.” LexisNexis® Academic & Library Solutions. 23 Apr. 2000. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.