Earning Their Apples
An interesting article by RiShawn Biddle on merit pay for teachers:
The move earlier this month by D.C. Public Schools to fire 200 of their worst-performing teachers certainly got attention from school reformers and teachers union bosses alike. After all, the move to get rid of five percent of the district's teachers -- many of whom were rated "minimally effective" in their instruction for a second straight year under the district's performance-based evaluation system -- proved once and for all that last year's successful effort by the American Federation of Teachers to oust Adrian Fenty as Washington, D.C. mayor and toss out the tough-talking Michelle Rhee as the district's chancellor came to naught.
Few, however, noticed that the district's 663 top-performing teachers would get something more than apples: Each of them will get bonuses of as much as $25,000 for their successful work. For just one of those teachers with a bachelor's degree and 10 years in the classroom, the top bonus is equal to 38 percent of their annual salary of $65,173.
By next year, these D.C. teachers won't be alone. After a decade of small-scale voluntary efforts, states such as Florida, Ohio, and Indiana are giving teachers the chance to earn extra cash, gain well-deserved recognition for their work, and prove that they can hack it in the classroom. Other states are considering their own efforts. Whether or not merit pay becomes a reality throughout the nation will depend as much on how school reformers and districts put together these plans as on whether they can beat back the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and their allies defending traditional public education.