Answers on merit pay for teachers and a few questions for columnist

Dear Editor:
Ms. Cynthia Walker is definitely slipping. Her second attempt in
explaining merit pay was needed, as her

obvious

first attempt was quite silly. Though more thoroughly reasoned,
the latest response typified anti-public education proponent’s
gnawing hatred of anything smelling of unionism, but more on that
later.
Dear Editor:

Ms. Cynthia Walker is definitely slipping. Her second attempt in explaining merit pay was needed, as her “obvious” first attempt was quite silly. Though more thoroughly reasoned, the latest response typified anti-public education proponent’s gnawing hatred of anything smelling of unionism, but more on that later.

Her follow up explanation could have informed the readers about the Denver School District ProComp Plan. The Denver school system had a four-year pilot program of merit pay for student performance. Exiting the trial program, the task force made recommendations. One of their primary statements is that the new plan is not a merit pay for student performance plan.

The ProComp Plan pays teachers additionally for positive teacher evaluations, working in targeted “hard or difficult” schools, furthering one’s career with professional courses, and student-performance goal attainment during the school year. Congratulations go to Ms. Walker, as the task force developed a recommendation quite similar to hers!

NEA and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association support the ProComp Plan. Extrapolating possible pay-for-results incentives for five decades, the Denver community must pass a levy of $25 million to pay only for the 4,500 teachers in Denver, or it isn’t going to fly. These funds would be in addition to the currently funded salary schedules in place.

Simplistically, applying the Denver ProComp task force’s data to California, it would cost nearly $1.7 billion for California’s 300,000 teachers. This amount is in addition to the currently underfunded Prop. 98 guarantee by the state constitution. Where would we get the money?

Undoubtedly Ms. Walker would welcome the mantra, “Teachers should have merit pay like the private sector.” Superintendent Guy Puglisi, who heads the Brooklyn-Queens archdiocese of 158 Catholic schools where there is no union, has different feelings. All teachers work under a single salary schedule like public schools. Archdiocesan priests have the right to give merit pay, but they don’t. He states, “I don’t think merit pay is that great an idea.” Adding, “Under no circumstances would a teacher’s contribution be assessed simply by test scores. What motivates teachers is the opportunity to do challenging work, and then being told how much they are appreciated.” Hmmm…..

Though others might pipe in, here are my union flack/hack answers to Ms. Walker’s questions:

1) CTA defends a rewards system for all teachers. Gov. Davis’s School Performance Awards dried up after too many schools were receiving funds for increasing test scores. Until a better system is developed (Denver ProComp Plan?), “merit pay for performance” is just an anti-public school, hollow-ringing statement.

2) Everyone wants to pursue excellence, but who makes the sacrifice? Most teachers have a contractual 7.5-hour work day, but the average is almost 10 hours in GUSD. Any district adding work increasing the workday or workload must be negotiated (state law). Why would Ms. Walker think teachers would waive their statutory right to bargain this provision?

3) The Ed Code mentions how teacher dismissals occurs. Unions do nothing to preclude the district from removing ineffective teachers. We union flacks/hacks assist teachers in the workplace by teaching them their rights as provided by state statute. Districts are notorious for indiscriminately trampling these rights.

4) CTA is lockstep with NEA accepting all publicly funded charter schools with or without union affiliation. Locally El Portal and the Charter School of Morgan Hill are not unionized, and as far as I know, have not been approached to become unionized, nor has CTA come out stating they need to be eliminated. Where do you get this misinformation?

5) Teachers and the public flexed their political muscle to permanently support public education by passing Prop.98. Obviously, it hasn’t worked so well as California ranks quite low in per capita funding for education (Rand Corporation Report).

6) Education funding has progressively gotten worse since the passage of Prop. 13. California went from one of the highest funded states in public education to one of the lowest. The status quo was being supported in the 1970s with unions in place, adequate funding and no mention of merit pay. California schools also were renown as the best in the nation.

Now, I hope Ms. Walker does her homework for her follow up article.

Dale Morejón, Gilroy

Leave your comments