Kevin Carey gets all pissed-off about all this. And, post diss, he gets Richard Simmons to dish about No Child…Over at Gadfly Liam Julian turns-in a piece on Tuesday’s election returns that is well worth reading. Many readers have written to ask why I haven’t blogged more on the Utah voucher issue and offer their takes on it. The reason is that I didn’t think the plan would improve the schools there, and I don’t think its defeat does either. It’s a tired debate and not about kids or learning much at all.
Meanwhile, I’m completely confused about the merit pay/performance-pay differentiations that are a hot issue in teachers’ union circles. Here AFTie One-L* pushes back on Tapped’s Dana Goldstein writing that, “[The AFT] objected to the federal mandate that student test scores must be used to determine whether teachers get the incentive” in the Miller-McKeon No Child Left Behind draft proposal. But in New York City test scores are part of the bonus plan that was just put in place, the rewards can go to the whole school or just some teachers depending on what they decide at the school. Yet that’s not merit pay, says UFT Pres Randi Weingarten: “Unlike merit-pay plans that provide financial incentives to individual educators, the schoolwide bonus plan will reward the entire staff of any participating school that shows a significant gain in academic achievement.” I’d love for someone to sort this all out.
Seems to me that any plan that deviates from the standard “steps and lane” ** approach to consider factors like market incentives for shortage subjects, how challenging schools and communities are, or performance-pay plans can all be considered to be “differentiated pay.” In other words, all performance-pay is differentiated pay but not all differentiated pay is performance-pay.
Now as to the difference between performance-pay and merit-pay? I have absolutely no idea though it seems performance-pay plans can come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors. But in any event this all seems sort of passé since teachers elsewhere have embraced individualized performance-pay anyway! I’m not sure it’s a great idea in the education context but am happy to see the innovation so we can find out. On this pay-for-performance or whatever you want to call it issue, several new papers from Center for American Progress worth checking out: One by free-range former AFTie Joan Snowden and the other by former Eduwonk guestblogger Robin Chait.
*By the way, shouldn’t the teachers’ unions be crowing and flexing not explaining themselves on blogs? They basically killed NCLB reauthorization for this year. And that’s OK, it’s called democratic debate. Remember that in its post-mortem after the 2001 law Education Week wrote a big story about how the unions were basically cut out of the loop and rolled. Now they’re back baby! I wish AFTie One-L would just take a victory lap and maybe kick sand in someone’s face rather than playing the misunderstood victim card! There were loads of things they didn’t like about the Miller-McKeon proposal and that’s OK, too! Update: NEA gloating here.
**I’m posting the UFT schedule here because they do a nice job making it easy to find, it’s illustrative of what most look like on form.