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UFT, DOE, joint committees, and merit pay

October 19, 2007 pm31 2:45 pm

No. No merit pay yet. Soon.

The UFT has a history of trying to encourage labor management collaboration, including at the school level. We participate in joint committees, where possible. I’ve never known us to turn one down. I believe that our leaders have a philosophical/ideological commitment to this sort of collaboration.

Our leaders have a responsibility to know the difference between what’s written on paper and what happens in our schools.

Way down at the school level, this work includes (my experience) School Safety Committee, School Leadership Team, C-30 (to select new administrators), SBO hiring committees (old), principal’s hiring committee (current). I’m certainly leaving stuff out…

Where we have strong chapters, these things, more or less, function. But how many principals signed off on the safety plan last year and indicated the chapter leader had signed, when the chapter leader had not even seen it? How many SBO Committees were just rubberstamps? What committee can you sit on with your rating officer, and really fairly participate? How many of us are so completely unimpressed by authority that we can say no to our supervisor? And the schools effected by this agreement will tend to be schools with weak chapters…

Collaboration can work, but very carefully, and very carefully controlled. In the UFT context, it can only occur where we have strong chapters. Without discussing the merit pay agreement, giving a joint collaboration committee at the school level power over distributing compensation at this time is a grave error. Our leaders have a responsibility to know the difference between what’s written on paper and what happens in our schools.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2007 am31 3:13 am 3:13 am

    No one outside of the school system really knows what is actually going on. I sat on a C-30 committee once. It was the beginning of the end for me. I realized that no matter how I felt, nothing I said mattered. The decision rested soley in the hands of the administration.

    Last year I got an award from the students and the parents that the principal had been trying to block for years. Since he couldn’t block it this time, he just ignored it every chance he could. This really had no major effect on me since everyone knew what a jerk he was being. I know he would withhold money from me if he could. No matter how good my results were, I am not a “chosen person” and I would never receive merit pay.

  2. coolscienceteacher permalink
    October 20, 2007 am31 5:07 am 5:07 am

    I’m a little confused. Randi did not want to call the new deal merit pay because the schools decide what to do with the money through a committee. The schools can decide to pay teachers individually though. It is merit pay. JUST ADMIT IT.
    Also if the money is distributed individually how is performanced to be judged? I know test scores are going to be a huge deciding factor but are we only talking about ELA and math exams? If so how is the school going to control for all the different variables that can affect student performance? Can you tell I’m a science teacher? I mean all the well behaved high performing students might be placed into certain classes as they do in my school. That’s not fair to the math and ELA teachers that work with the lower functioning students. How will content area teachers’ pay be determined? Students don’t have to take annual standardized exams so how will growth be assessed? There are so many questions to answer.

  3. October 20, 2007 am31 6:08 am 6:08 am

    Also if the money is distributed individually how is performanced to be judged? I know test scores are going to be a huge deciding factor but are we only talking about ELA and math exams? If so how is the school going to control for all the different variables that can affect student performance?

    This is what I think would make developing a fair “merit” pay system impossible.

    It is not always the case that the high performing students make the biggest gains, though. Often they are performing above grade level before they start the year, and make little progress, if not given sufficient opportunities to fly. :(

    But you are absolutely right that student motivation, a student’s home life situation, parental involvement, etc. are all factors that a teacher has little control over, but that impact the student’s performance. It would be very hard to measure the impact of a teacher on a given group of students.

  4. Miss Teacher permalink
    October 20, 2007 pm31 9:55 pm 9:55 pm

    What about ELL students and SPED students, some of whom are not even tested? How does that factor into the deal? Beyond that, I thought schools were going to get 2x the score boost on the school quality review for moving these students….does that mean teachers get 2x the bonus if ELL and SPED students move? And what if those kids do not have the ELL and/or SPED services they need…does that get factored into the equation some how?

  5. October 21, 2007 am31 12:10 am 12:10 am

    Miss Teacher, I have no idea. I do know that the reports and “grades” the DoE has concocted are junk. Give an idiot a spreadsheet and ‘data’ and he’ll give you a formula. What formula? Who knows?

    I was just reading my school’s Quality Review, and it contained such inane nonsense… Who evaluates these guys?

    Finally, assuming that there are schools looking for this bonus money, I am assuming that a person who understands the DoE’s flawed methodology could teach schools how to game the formulas. There is probably serious consultant money to be made here.

  6. Just exessed in NYC on August 2, 2007 permalink
    October 22, 2007 am31 12:58 am 12:58 am

    Merit pay may wind up being favoritism and nepotism and racial profiling pay. It won’t be fairly allocated. What about offering golden parachutes to older teachers who may want to retire earlier than into their 70’s. A friend has to continue going in a rough situation for at least five more years and is nearly 60 and wants her full pension and Social Security benefits or it will be impossible to continue a normal life. I won’t have any retirement fund to speak of, as I am only finishing the first year and I just turned 50 and have been excessed already!

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