Monday, January 30, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg and Merit Pay

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after denying educators the 8-plus percent all other city employees got for the 2008-2010 bargaining period, is now touting a $20,000 raise for those teachers who can manage to be rated "highly effective" two years in a row. There are caveats, of course, including the fact that the evaluation system on which this is based does not yet exist, the tests that would help determine the evaluation do not yet exist, and the agreement with the union on which this would be based does not yet exist.

But none of those things matter to the papers, who plaster headlines about Bloomberg's big raise for teachers all over the place. You see how that works? You give away nothing and the whole world praises you for your generosity. It beats the hell out of actually doing anything.

There are, of course, other issues, like the fact that the last merit pay scheme failed utterly and was abandoned as a result. Now, as a teacher, if I try a new lesson and it bombs, it's not my first instinct to expand it into an entire unit. Of course, I'm not an indispensable genius like Mike Bloomberg, and I wouldn't thwart the twice-voiced will of the people in order to buy myself a third term either. Then there are those darn principals who find the entire evaluation process insane and unworkable, but that doesn't get in the way of Mayor Mike's plan.

Mayor Mike says it's absurd that regular teachers get paid as much as excellent teachers. Now certainly, there are those who say that neither Mayor Mike nor any of his Tweedie birds would recognize good teachers if they were beating them over their heads (which is not to say NYC Educator endorses this particular practice).  It's certainly true the biggest merit pay program, despite the nonsense in the NY Times, hasn't resulted in any gains in the only thing "reformers" care about--test scores. So now, with nothing in place to prepare for this system.

Mayor Mike and his minions insist that excellence is identifiable and tangible, and must be met with financial rewards. They say excellence or lack thereof is something that must be reflected in salary (though only in teacher salary, as it applies to no other municipal workers). An odd concept, considering it thus far applies to a system that largely exists only in the minds of raving anti-unionist NYC op-ed writers.

Still, it goes a long way toward explaining why Mayor Bloomberg gets paid one dollar a year.
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