Saturday, June 9, 2007

Merit Pay in Play


The NY Sun's Elizabeth Green reports that some schools will give individual teachers merit pay for performance. Randi Weingarten objects - sort of. Way back when, I attempted to bring resolutions to the Delegate Assembly calling for the UFT to refuse all proposals to institute merit pay, Weingarten blocked them by not calling on me for months. I finally got the floor at around 6:15 pm on a day when Unity Caucus was heading to an election victory party at the Hilton afterwards. Boy were they pissed that they had to listen to me for 5 minutes. Naturally they turned it down. After all, Randi had supported the plan in District 19 (East New York in Brooklyn) that gave merit pay to entire staffs for rising scores. And her plan when Giuliani was still mayor to pay summer school teachers for high scores with free airline tickets caused much hilarity all around. (That proposal has disappeared from her resume.)

Stacey Gauthier co-director of operations at the Renaissance's Charter School doesn't understand "why the union wouldn't want to support their members getting extra income."

Shame on her to think think the UFT leadership has any core values beyond money. Remember extended days, times, years, lunch duty, and the entire litany of givebacks? So when they support "
a plan that would reward entire schools for meeting performance goals, but would not differentiate between teachers" that is just a foot in the door for full merit pay where teachers can get to compete with each other for the best kids and to see who can spend more time doing test practice. Sort of like let's give the first fireman up the ladder bonuses.)

The UFT is in favor of teachers at different schools competing against each other (there's a good basis for union solidarity) on the basis of no performance goals other than a narrow range of tests. And so soon after the UFT came out with a report that laments the impact of testing which just goes to prove the mantra: watch what they do not what they say. Randi's actions rather than words shows she supports the testing/standards malestrom that is destroying public education.

Note what Randi said:

"But the union's president, Randi Weingarten ... said unionized schools could not enact merit pay without renegotiating their contracts, a process the UFT could halt. "It has to be negotiated," she said. "CEI or the school leadership is not going to unilaterally do this."

Not that she is unilaterally opposed to merit pay and giving the powerful reasons why teachers who support the idea should stand against it. But that things have to be negotiated. In the UFT lexicon everything is for sale.

The entire UFT leadership should be sworn to take the hypocritic oath.

Teachers in Wisconsin have written:
"Those in government who would like to bring about the demise of public education in the interest of privatization have a multi-faceted approach. Among them is paying teachers based on the test scores of children. Plain and simple this is an attack on public education and those who teach in the public schools. "Merit pay won't make our classrooms less crowded, won't make our schools safer, won't get parents more involved in their children's schoolwork... won't improve teaching or pupil learning...(it) would encourage divisive competition in a profession that requires cooperation and teamwork... (and it would be unfair given the uncontrollable factors) that children's learning is also affected by circumstances related to their home environment, health care, nutrition, and other factors", so says Adam Urbanski, in MERIT PAY WON'T WORK IN SCHOOLS."

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