Some teachers break ranks on seniority

Some teachers are breaking with their union to support performance pay and oppose seniority, reports the Wall Street Journal.

As a teacher, Sydney Morris wants to be rewarded if she can show she helps students make progress in her classroom. She also wants to make job protections such as tenure more difficult to get, and in the event that layoffs have to happen she wants the worst teachers to be let go first, no matter how long they’ve been teaching.

In March, the Bronx teacher and a colleague, Evan Stone, started Educators 4 Excellence to mobilize teachers who want to change the status quo.

Of particular concern is the practice of laying off teachers based on how many years they’ve worked in the schools. That “provides a safety net to be complacent,” said Margie Crousillat, a member of Ms. Morris’s group who is a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx in her seventh year of teaching. “Some veteran teachers have been teaching 25 years and they are incredible. But some aren’t. I don’t think age or experience should dictate whether you’re safe in your job.”

Three-quarters of teachers surveyed this year by the New Teacher Project said layoffs should be based on more than just seniority.

Value-added analysis has helped teachers prove their worth and keep their jobs in Tennessee, writes Stephen Sawchuk on Teacher Beat.  The state has collected value-added data for more than a decade, he writes, “and until recently, it was an optional but not mandatory component of teacher evaluations.”

According to (former Tennessee Education Association President Earl) Wiman, over the past decade, the union has actually used information from that state’s value-added system to save teachers’ jobs during tenure and dismissal hearings. In other words, the information showed that those teachers did make a difference for kids, and effectively served as a type of check on principals.

The TEA successfully opposed basing teacher pay on value-added scores — unless that’s negotiated by local unions in districts receiving Race To The Top funds.

On the flip side, Arthur Goldstein describes how a teacher could exploit performance pay to make more money at the expense of students’ learning.

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  1. Way to go Teachers!! Thank you!