Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dems Getting On Board With Teacher Performance Pay

This is my biggest beef with the teachers' union -- they protect the lousy teachers. It takes a special person to teach and public schools seem to attract and keep the worse instead of attracting and hanging on to the best.
As good teachers get their due-- higher pay -- more people will be inspired to teach and teachers will be inspired to do better. There are fine teachers out there who can't afford to teach. See Obama's education agenda here.
CQ Politics: To most ears, that didn’t sound like an especially revolutionary sentiment. But teachers’ unions have long opposed any sort of tinkering with the traditional pay system in the public schools, which tethers compensation chiefly to credentials held and years spent in the classroom. And since those unions form an important bloc of support for the Democratic Party, that had also been the party’s basic line about teacher pay.

But the party is starting to back away from that longtime article of faith. In the last several years, lawmakers, school district heads and even some union officials have begun proposing alternative approaches to setting the salaries — enhancing the compensation of teachers willing to work in underserved schools or to specialize in hard-to-staff subject areas, for example, or for teachers whose students show appreciable academic improvement.

The push will intensify in the coming weeks, because advocates of performance pay are planning to include $200 million in the economic recovery legislation for federal grants to test the notion. But the debate will really take off later in the year, when Congress is expected to start writing a reauthorization of elementary and secondary school policy, embodied in the 2002 law known as No Child Left Behind. At that time, advocates will push for $2.2 billion in grants, set aside in a previous bill called the Teach Act, to provide bonuses and incentives for enhancing teacher performance.