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D.C. council chairman doubts merit pay’s finances
In his letter to Ms. Rhee, Mr. Gray requested documentation on several specific areas, including enrollment, and the number of full-time teachers and others in the union bargaining unit, as well as their salaries and step increases.
Pay-for-performance plans have historically been rejected by unions that don’t want teachers’ pay and tenure linked to student achievement. The Washington plan is voluntary and, Ms. Rhee said, “groundbreaking.”
New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who on Thursday signed a deal that ended his city’s practice of paying teachers undergoing discipline cases while they did nothing in “rubber rooms,” has called the D.C. merit-pay plan a “game-changer” and said he hopes it will become a national model.
The D.C. plan, which also needs approval by the union’s rank and file, would allow teachers to volunteer for a plan that would grant them raises based on student performance on standardized tests and academic and other measures.
Mr. Gray sent his letters regarding financing the pay-for-performance program as Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, a Republican who is seeking his state’s U.S. Senate seat in November but trailing in polls, vetoed a statewide merit-pay plan called Senate Bill 6.
Mr. Crist criticized the bill to reporters at a Tallahassee news conference Thursday as “contrary to the best interests of the people of Florida — because of the process by which it passed.” Senate Bill 6 “sped through committees without meaningful input” from teachers and unions, he said.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, more than 100,000 letters, cards and e-mails were sent to the governor on the issue, mostly from angry teachers urging a veto.
“We’re thankful that the governor realized what some lawmakers wouldn’t,” Florida Education Association President Andy Ford said. Teachers, administrators and parents weren’t consulted and their views of this radical legislation were dismissed repeatedly by many legislators.”
The Gray letters follow recent news that Delaware jumped to the head of the line in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top funds. Delaware school officials worked hand in hand with union leaders to develop a plan that holds teachers’ accountable for their students’ academic performance. The D.C. plan fell short.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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