MEDIA WATCH: Ruling class 'merit pay' propaganda continues in major media... Newark gets international and national praise for knuckling under to merit pay, while Los Angeles agrees to 'performance' in evaluations
Anyone who believed that one good Chicago strike would stop the ruling class agenda against the public schools would have been surprised at how completely the agenda is still being pushed. Within a couple of days after teachers in Newark, New Jersey, ratified a contract agreeing to merit pay, the voices of the plutocracy were raises in praise of Newark â€” and again against Chicago's teachers, union and union leaders. In case any Chicago Teachers Union members missed it, the nation's plutocrats now hate us for having won our strike, and one of their central tenets, the bankrupt policy of individual "merit pay", is a main reason.
Back to recent betrayals of our unions by some in the national leadership. Newark (New Jersey) teachers approved a contract that includes the merit pay provisions by a vote of more than 60 percent in favor. As reported on November 24, from Newark:
â€œThis is where education in America is moving, and you can either be part of the difference, or you can be run over by it,â€ said [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie, when asked if he thought the NJEA [New Jersey Education Association] would agree to a similar deal. â€œI would be thrilled to have them be part of the difference, but I am not one bit reluctant to run them over with it. It can work either way.â€
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, the parent of the Newark local, said the process, while long and often contentious, showed what can be done when all involved keep their eyes on the bottom line..."
But while Randi Weingarten was (again) playing "Good Teacher - Bad Teacher" both within her own Newark local and against the New Jersey Education Association, the voices of wealth in America immediately raised the "Newark Model" for the world. And the game of "Good Union - Bad Union" was being played against the Chicago Teachers Union in the process.
Response from the international corporate "school reform" plutocracy was almost immediate.
The earliest praise for Newark's contract beyond the borders of New Jersey came internationally, in the pages of The Economist.
Within a few days, on December 1, 2012, the Chicago Tribune (see below) weighed in with the same praises (and the same censures of Karen Lewis and the CTU leadership).
While the Tribune was praising the wisdom of the Newark teachers (and of Randi Weingarten of the AFT for joining hands with New Jersey governor Chris Christie behind the merit pay deal), both the Economist and the Tribune took a shot at Chicago teachers and union president Karen Lewis for being behind the times. Meanwhile, Chicago's WLS was red baiting CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey for being a "Red." (Full disclosure: this reporter has been a "Red" for a long time, too, having read most of Marx and Lenin as a young man, as well as most sacred scriptures of the world's religions; Lincoln, Jefferson, Stevens, Grant and Sherman -- and many others; this reporter also went to high school in Newark...).
As of this report, UTLA has not voted on the proposed contract. Substance will report if there will be a fight against this by teachers in LA. The agreement will only take effect if ratified by United Teachers Los Angeles. Many teachers have objected to using test scores in their evaluations, claiming they are an unreliable way of assessing their performance. Two years ago, the publication of test scores and the ranking of the city's teachers by the Los Angeles Times resulted in the suicide of one teacher. UTLA President Warren Fletcher said he was happy with the agreement.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE EDITORIAL DECEMBER 1, 2012 BELOW HERE:
December 1, 2012. Maybe in the holiday rush you missed this intriguing school reform news. Teachers in Newark, N.J., recently approved a new contract. What's so momentous about that? The contract includes merit pay based on a teacher's classroom performance, including student academic growth.
Newark teachers could earn bonuses of up to $12,500 for being rated as highly effective, working in a school that has struggled to attract top teachers or teaching hard-to-staff subjects.
The new contract vaults Newark to the front of a national crusade to boost student achievement by retaining and rewarding the best teachers.
The Newark vote wasn't a squeaker: Almost 62 percent of Newark's nearly 4,700 union teachers supported the plan. Newark Teachers Union President Joseph Del Grosso called the vote "a step in the right direction for the teaching profession," The Star-Ledger reported.
And Chicago? Still way behind the curve. The Chicago Teachers Union fended off a CPS proposal for merit pay in contract negotiations this year. "We don't believe in merit pay," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said.
Lewis' intransigence forced CPS officials to turn down $34 million in federal grant money targeted to develop a merit pay system for public school teachers. CPS had to give the money back to the government because the CTU wouldn't cooperate on a pilot project. What a terrible setback for CPS students, and what an odd decision for teachers to reject the opportunity to earn more money.
Merit pay is a prime way to recognize the best-performing teachers and keep them in the classroom, where they boost student achievement. Newark's teachers apparently get that.
Illinois has a pernicious achievement gap between white and minority students. Just 12 percent of African-American students and 18 percent of Hispanic students read proficiently by fourth grade, according to a recent report from the reform group Advance Illinois. That gap hasn't budged in almost a decade. Pairing the best teachers with the lowest-performing students can help close that gap. Studies show that students can be helped immensely by a very good teacher, just as they can be slowed by a poor one.
More than 300 school districts across the country have joined federal efforts to promote merit pay. They have reaped $1.2 billion in federal money. It's time for more Illinois school districts to sign on. Every principal should welcome the chance to pay his or her superstar teachers for superior performance.
Newark's teachers have accepted the challenge, and stand to reap the rewards. Thousands of students stand to get a better education under the incentives in this contract. That's a triumph to celebrate.
'By farâ€¦the most gratifying day of my governorship...' says New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. ECONOMIST ARTICLE NOVEMBER 24, 2012 BELOW HERE:
Howâ€™s my educating?
NEWARKâ€™S public schools are dreadful. Although they have been under the supervision of New Jerseyâ€™s state government since 1995, there has been little improvement since then. Only 40% of students read to the standard prescribed for their age, and in the 15 worst-performing schools the figure is less than 25%. More than 30% of pupils do not graduate. Few of those who do are ready for higher education. Of those who entered one local establishment, Essex County College, in 2009, a whopping 98% needed remedial maths and 87% had to take remedial English. As a result, fed-up parents are taking their children out of Newarkâ€™s public high schools and placing them in independent charter schools. Many public-school buildings now stand half-empty. The best teachers often leave in despair.
Things might now start to change. On November 14th members of the Newark teachersâ€™ union approved, by 1,767 to 1,088, a new agreement with the district which, it is hoped, will help to retain good teachers. It introduces, for the first time in New Jersey, bonus pay. Teachers can now earn up to $12,000 in annual bonuses: $5,000 for achieving good results, up to $5,000 for working in poorly performing schools, and up $2,500 for teaching a hard-to-staff subject. Newark will be one of the largest school districts in the country to offer bonuses. The idea was made palatable to the union, which had been reluctant to accept it, because the evaluation process will unusually be based on peer review, though the school superintendent and an independent panel will still make the final decision on each case.
Chris Christie, New Jerseyâ€™s governor, and Joseph Del Grosso, the head of Newarkâ€™s teachersâ€™ union, both agree that Newarkâ€™s contract could serve as a model for other school districts. These will take some convincing. The New Jersey Education Association, the stateâ€™s largest union, which is not affiliated with Newarkâ€™s, is adamantly opposed to bonus pay. The new salary and bonus scale could be replicated, but not every district has the funds Newark has. Michael Petrilli of the Thomas Fordham Institute, an education think-tank, notes that â€œnot every district has Facebookâ€. Two years ago, thanks to Cory Booker, Newarkâ€™s impressive mayor, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebookâ€™s billionaire founder, donated $100m to help improve Newarkâ€™s schools. Some of this money, along with donations from the Pershing Square Foundation and others, will help pay for the Newark teachersâ€™ new contracts.
Newark is not alone in using collective bargaining to achieve reform. Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland and New Haven have all taken much the same route. Nor is it the only district to introduce merit pay. New York experimented for a few years with schoolwide, rather than individual, performance bonuses, but abandoned the idea in 2011. Denver has a programme where teachers receive extra pay for working in hard-to-staff schools. Bonus pay began in 2010 in Washington, DC, which like Newark gets useful extra money from private donors. But Mr Petrilli notes that the District has yet to improve its worryingly high teacher-turnover rate. Performance-based pay is still controversial. Chicagoâ€™s teachers, who went on strike in September, were opposed to merit pay. Branden Rippey, a history teacher in Newark, worries that the idea, along with reliance on private donors, will ultimately undermine the union.
Mr Christie, however, believes unions that resist will end up sharing the fate of the dinosaurs. He and Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, have rarely been in agreement, but in this respect they are. Mr Christie, who only three months ago bragged during the Republican convention about taking on the teachersâ€™ unions, declared that the day when the union ratified merit pay and peer review was â€œby farâ€¦the most gratifying day of my governorship.â€
From the print edition | United States
LOS ANGELES TIMES ARTICLE ON UTLA
LAUSD, Teacherâ€™s Union Tentatively Agree To Factor Student Test Scores Into Teacher Evaluations. November 30, 2012 6:30 PM
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) â€” The L.A. Unified School District and its teachers union announced a tentative agreement Friday to begin using student test scores to evaluate instructors.
KNX 1070â€²s Margaret Carrero reports that itâ€™s taken five months of bargaining to reach t his landmark decision.
The agreement comes just days before a court-ordered deadline requiring the district to base teacher evaluations on studentperformance, as outlined in the Stull Act.
This is the first time that LAUSD and teachers have agreed to this kind of a review system.
â€œWeâ€™ve reached a historic agreement with UTLA that will improvethe way we undertake certificated evaluations and honors their core purpose: to improve the practices of teaching and to assure accountability in meeting standards of the teaching profession,â€ said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, whoâ€™s actively supported using student test scores in teacher performance reviews since he assumed his position a year and a half ago.
The LAUSD, the nationâ€™s second-largest school district, would join Chicago and other cities in adopting this evaluation system.
During the discussion, both sides agreed that student test scores would count for less than 50 percent of a teacherâ€™s score. Teachers would be evaluated every other year. Teachers with more than 10 years of experience would be reviewed every three or four years.
â€œThis agreement strikes a balance that is much needed in the country right now in terms of using student measures of academic progress as both a vehicle to improve instruction, and to hold us accountable for the achievement of students in our schools,â€ Deasy said.
The agreement will only take effect if ratified by United Teachers Los Angeles. Many teachers have objected to using test scores in their evaluations, claiming they are an unreliable way of assessing their performance.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said he was happy with the agreement.
â€œQuite oftenâ€¦test scores are used in order to create some sort of quick and dirty number that can be applied to a teacher the same way a restaurant score is attached to a restaurant â€” and teaching is a complex activity. We wanted to make sure to negotiate a system that uses the data intelligently,â€ Fletcher said.
The union is continuing to hold talks with the district over other issues.