Union kills bonuses for Boston teachers

Boston’s teachers’ union has killed  a plan to pay bonuses to teachers whose students do well on the AP exam, reports the Boston Globe. An arbitrator has ruled the extra pay violates the union contract.

The district wanted to give math teachers at a Roxbury school $100 for each student with a his score on the AP test, funded by a grant.  The union complained bonuses undercut faculty teamwork.

The Boston union, for instance, says that many teachers contribute to a child’s success, and all of them should be eligible for any potential bonuses, not just the ones who teach AP courses.

So, they support merit pay for all teachers? Well, no.

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  1. Makes sense.

    Unions are dependent on uniformity in their membership, i.e. one plumber or one teacher’s interchangeable with another, so it makes sense unions would want to maintain that interchangeability.

    Merit pay, real merit pay, undercuts that interchangeability by putting a premium on skills. If you’re worth more you get more.

  2. I think they pay for passing scores in Florida… until this year when it was cut from the budget.

    While I’d love to get that check for my passing scores, something would need to be built in for other teachers. I’d be the only one eligible in my department and I certainly did not get the kids to that point all on my own.

  3. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Lightly — I don’t know– A well run AP course is very different from the typical honors courses that went before it.

    I know my AP English teacher (who I feared and hated at the time, but really appreciated once I got to college!) kicked our butts on a regular basis. There was no sliding, no cruising. She graded harshly, she made us know the books inside and out, and she didn’t cut us any slack.

    She also turned out a lot of 5s. The kids who took homors English to avoid her and then took the AP test on their own didn’t do as well.

    So, at least in my experience, a good AP teacher DOES do something that other teachers (and earlier teachers) don’t do.

    Also, given the number of papers and tests she assigned, I’d guess that her out-of-school workload was a lot higher than other teachers. We were reading a book every week or two, had a paper every week, a test every week, plus vocab quizzes, in class essays, etc. The honors kids had a lot less work, which means their teacher had less to grade, and less to plan.

    A teacher like that DESERVES the ‘high score’ bonus. (Of course, Dr. Smith had a PhD in a county that paid more for them, so I guess she was already more highly paid than other English teachers? But still….. her class actually prepared me for college– she deserved every penny!)

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: With friends like unions, teachers don’t need enemies.

  5. You don’t have to tell me how hard I work :). I’m just not sure I want to be set up as the only one in the dept. getting a $5K bonus every year.

  6. In Texas, we use a combination of “campus” awards and individual performances. So one teacher may get 1700 to 2000, and another may get up to 6000.

    Unfortunately, the newspaper publishes a database that shows who got how much; you should hear it then….

  7. I’m just not sure I want to be set up as the only one in the dept. getting a $5K bonus every year.

    Perhaps pay a fraction of that to the teachers of the prerequisite classes, if those students attended them?  (Of course, if a teacher teaches the prerequisite too that would leave the same issue.)

  8. I don’t have pre-reqs for AP. They’re open enrollment, so my kids come from every teacher in the dept. pretty much. We don’t have honors or pre-AP before they get to me.

    See how dicey it can get?

    In math, the path is much clearer and supports that method, I agree. Not so much in English and Social Studies.

  9. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Lightly— Well, if there are no prereqs, how well a student does probably has to do with 1. Your teaching and 2. The child’s reading ability. So really, you should split the reward with each student’s first grade teacher! 😉

  10. George Larson says:

    Lightly Seasoned

    Why is gettng the sole bonus a problem in your school? Lots of employeers outside of the public schools give bonuses to their employees. It does not destroy their organizations. The employers do it to enhance them.

    Would it make a difference if only you and your employer knew what you were earning?

  11. George: my salary is published in the local newspaper every year.


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