Monday, October 02, 2006

Texas Teachers Reject Merit Pay

In Texas, where collective bargaining is forbidden, but hitting students is fine, several schools have rejected merit pay, determining it would pit teachers against one another.

Bea Cantu, principal at Bellaire, said that just two of 47 teachers at the school voted in favor of a plan that was developed to distribute the bonus money. The law creating the program – passed in a special legislative session in May – calls for merit-pay plans in low-income areas, with bonuses to be distributed based on standardized-test scores.

If you believe what NYC Deputy Chancellor Alonso says, that teachers are the sole variable in academic success, these programs make sense. But I teach is a very good city school. It would be far easier for my colleagues and me to earn merit pay than it would for other teachers in tougher schools. And I don't kid myself that I'm responsible for the quality of my school (I also don't kid myself that it will be maintained, at 250% capacity and with the DoE dumping hundreds of additional students on an annual basis).

A few years back there was a well-regarded study, the name of which escapes me. It recommended that city schools pay competitively and then add merit pay. Chancellor Klein seized on the merit pay proposal and ignored the competitive pay part.

I'm opposed to merit pay. But unlike Chancellor Klein, I'm also opposed to hiring teachers without merit. Nearby Nassau County shares my sentiment, and few districts there need to contemplate such gimmicks.
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