Monday, November 5, 2007

Kudos to Teachers at PS 196X Who Reject Merit Pay

Kudos to the gang at PS 196x and to the Lucy and Yoav from the Post for reporting the story. And for going to ICE'ers James Eterno and Lisa North for comments. Kudos to them too for speaking publicly. (Check out more from Lisa and James on the ICE blog.) Make sure to read ICE'er Michael Fiorillo's (yeah, kudos to him) amazing post on this blog from a few days ago on merit pay. (just scroll down.) Oh, and with these 3 founding members of ICE doing their thing it reminds me that ICE turned 4 years old on Halloween. Kudos and Happy Birthday to all the gang at ICE who keep plugging no matter what. And kudos to Jan, parent from Dist 2 for her great comment of support her teachers and the principal at her child's school as it relates to the school progress report. The outrage of some of these grades ties in with the crazy way merit pay will be distributed.

And kudos to eduwonkette for
writing this today: "Five years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article called "The Talent Myth" questioning the management zeitgeist that the NYC Department of Education has swallowed wholesale...."
One thing leads to another and guess which company is the model? It starts with an E and ends with bankruptcy and dissolution on desolation road, or on the road to desolation.

Teachers at PS 196X Reject Merit Pay
From NY Post:

November 5, 2007 -- Teachers at a Bronx elementary school gave a surprising response to a bonus plan that would pay them roughly $3,000 each for schoolwide student gains: Thanks, but no thanks.

Even without knowing if their school will be selected for the controversial program, more than 30 teachers at PS 196 voted preliminarily to reject it - largely because of its emphasis on
student test scores.

"I'm trying to move away from test scores being the be-all, end-all," said a PS 196 teacher. "I'd rather impress upon them the importance of a well-rounded education."

Mayor Bloomberg and United Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten announced the bonus plan with much fanfare Oct. 17 in conjunction with a pension agreement relished by the teachers union. Many saw the bonus plan as a trade-off, and as a step toward an individual merit-pay plan sought by Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

The bonus plan calls for teachers at 200 of the lowest-performing schools to divvy up $20 million in private funds for improving student performance. Individual teacher payment will be determined by a four-person committee at each school.

But the union was given an escape hatch that some members seem to be savoring: 55 percent of teachers at each school must vote to participate in the plan.

"The whole concept is an insult that you're not working hard unless we throw 3,000 bucks at you," said James Eterno, a longtime social-studies teacher at Jamaica HS in Queens.

Eterno added that he wouldn't be surprised to see at least some schools reject an invitation to the program, which is expected to double to 400 schools next year.

Department of Education spokeswoman Debra Wexler said the list of eligible schools is still being worked on but officials "are completely confident that educators will want to be part of a program that rewards excellence."

Even Weingarten acknowledged that the program, despite relying too heavily on test scores, was better received than she had expected.

"For now, what we did was include enough checks and balances that this is something where the school staff has equal power with the principal to decide to go into this process and decide how the money gets distributed," she said.

Whether schools ultimately accept or refuse offers for the bonus pay, wary teachers maintain that aligning teacher rewards with student scores sets a bad precedent.

"I think it lowers the standard of what good education is," said Lisa North, a literacy coach at PS 3 in Brooklyn.

Grading Public Schools by Jan, parent in Dist. 2
It is outrageous to me that our city's hard-working educators are being subjected to this narrow grading system. How humiliating! How reductive! Chancellor Klein has no idea how to work with or respect professional educators. My son's middle school received a C, and according to the DOE website, a school that receives a “C” 3 years in a row is subject to “consequences.”
This grade does not match my experience of the school in any respect. The school’s principal is stellar -- gifted and visionary. The teachers as well are smart, concerned, and committed; they bring a vibrancy and enthusiasm to a curriculum increasingly threatened to be overcome by test prep. The team of teachers from each grade meets regularly to discuss curriculum and individual students; if a student is falling behind, they are alerted immediately and work together to bring that student back. I am so angry that the chancellor is subjecting these hard-working educators to a meaningless and demoralizing grade.

The DOE’s miserly focus on assessment, their non-stop testing and grading, is deadening to our children – and now the DOE has found a way to demoralize our principals and teachers in the bargain. All the children in our city deserve the opportunity to experience a love of learning, the chance to be engaged in vibrant learning communities, and our educators deserve support.
My grade for the DOE? A resounding F. Unfortunately, I fear that their actions will now resound throughout the system, and it is our schools and children who will feel the “consequences” of this grade.

-- Jan, School District 2 Manhattan


  1. And Kudos to Norm for printing all of this.

  2. just thought I'd mention that I had already left a comment immediately following the scuttlebutt of the bonus scheme to the effect that I would not take the money or if forced to would simply hand the cash to the students (which I would encourage all teachers to do to make a point). it's their money anyway. I don't need 3G to do my job - I just need the fools, liars, cheats, a-holes, b's, and criminals in power to get out of my way.


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