Let me assure the News Journal that CSD has evaluated all the options available to us. We fully realize the decision we are making. We are exiting this listless disaster known at Race to the Top. We are not forging a new path, we choosing one of the avenues presented to us by the Department of Education.
Christina should find incentives for teachers
Walking away from a fight is seldom a painless venture, and one the Christina School District might or might not realize with its decision to turn down $2.3 million in federal Race to the Top funds.
The state Department of Education wanted Christina to give $20,000 over two years to only the most elite teachers, while administrators proposed giving much smaller bonuses to more teachers or boosting in struggling schools.Wrong. The DOE wants CSD to give $20,000 over two years to a handful of "elite" teachers who will earn that status, "highly effective" as a result of their students testing data. Only, the test measures how well students can express what they have learned and not how well the teachers teaches. Furthermore, each successful student is a product of multiple influences including the input of parents, specialists, previous teachers, and teachers whose subject matter is not actually tested.
CSD did propose providing a smaller and more global bonus to teachers who rate "effective." Unlike the state's arbitrary $20,000, our bonuses were targeted in a way that teachers could opt to increase their professional development or invest in resources for their classrooms.
When CSD volunteered to opt out of the VOLUNTARY Talent Attraction/Retention Initiative, the Sec. Murphy chose to punish CSD for its decision by withdrawing our Year 4 RTTT funding. Of the five or so district who were offered an opportunity to participate and volunteered to decline the offer, CSD is the ONLY district being punished. Arbitrary? Capricious? Anyone?
Christina officials had signed up for an impartial hearing. But the district withdrew its request Thursday, arguing it didn’t make sense to spend money on legal costs.The Department of Education had not provided CSD with the regulations regarding the appeals hearing prior to CSD requesting the hearing. The regulatory guidance set forth a very prescriptive plan for what must occur in order for CSD to actually have a hearing. Yes, one was scheduled. However, CSD could not simply present our case on the interpretation of the plans in place to receive an impartial 3rd party opinion. The guidance revealed to CSD that
- FIRST, we had to allege and prove that the Department of Education had broken a law BEFORE we could present our case.
- If we succeeded in proving that a law was broken, the hearing officer would hear both sides of the story (as expected) and then issue an opinion. The opinion would not be the final finding. The Secretary of Education, who in this case had made the original determination to withhold Year 4 would render the final decision in the matter after reviewing the findings of the hearing officer.
CSD continues to assert that we have complied with the plans in place, that the DOE is acting arbitrarily, and the effort asserted to coerce the district into submission is burdensome and unequal. We did align our resources to implement an attraction and retention program.
This fight over use of the federal RTTP funds turned heated when the state Department of Education insisted the district comply with a contract it signed to use the federal money to reward highly effective teachers and tackle the poor academic outcomes of at-risk minority populations.
But really, what one of the state’s largest school districts has done is stake its claim to local control over how it educates some 19,000 students and determine the pay their educators are worthy of.
That’s a bold and brash move on the part of a district that has difficulty turning around its academic performance and attracting and keeping teachers.Bold and Brash? I think that in a state where so many behave as cowards in the arena of education, that I could get used to being called Bold and Brash by the News Journal.
As to how pay is determined - Our contract with our union and the state's pay scale covers "determination." We don't have independent taxing authority. We are subject to the state's rules/laws/regulations/codes for determining and funding pay.
And since the NJ went there - The reality is that the entire pay scale needs to be re-structured. Today, teachers enter the professional at a low wage and if they don't burn out, they eventually earn a respectable wage. This model is a failure b/c it actually drives good teachers out of education, ensuring high attrition rates. The state needs to implement high wages on the front end with more substantial steps that slowly decrease over an extensive teaching career. There is balance to be achieved here. But, the results will be keeping good teachers in the profession. The model is doubly rewarding b/c we know that teachers become more effective with each passing year and each opportunity for meaningful professional development.
I disagree. It won't. Our teachers have made it quite clear to us that they don't want blood money. They want smaller classes, more resources and support, and a better pay structure.
It’s too bad a district proposal to use a portion of the funds to meet that goal won’t include rewarding highly qualified teachers.
The district worried about a possible riff among workers not eligible for the pay raises. That’s a legitimate concern,I disagree with this statement. I don't actually believe rewarding only a handful of teachers who teach tested subjects in a handful of schools is going to grow a riff in my schools. I give my teachers far more credit for their professionalism than that. I am much more bothered by the fact that the list of schools the state targeted for eligibility does not align with the list previously identified by the state DOE as high needs. DOE actually wants me to give $20,000 bonuses to schools that do not have rentention issues and who are making AYP. That doesn't make sense to me. In fact, that just sounds to me like a bribe designed to buy some teacher love for the department.
but parents of struggling students will likely not consider it as praiseworthy as providing their children’s classrooms with educators skilled to shift them from the status quo of being under performers.Hello??? Of course those parents who do not understand the issue and who search for facts on the opinion pages will be unhappy. They are misinformed in part b/c the New Journal has done such a crappy and orchestrated job and blowing common sense to smithereens.
If I subscribe to the complete bs logic that the editors are pilfering - then my child's entire educational career will be determined by whether or not he/she had 1 teacher who was eligible for a $20,000 bonus once in their lives.
I'm sorry, folks, but it take more than one teacher to raise a child up. It takes a team - parents, multiple teachers, whole schools, and frequently specialists to create successful learners - and the DAMN TEST DOESN'T MEASURE THAT.