The “Baltimore school system is paying bonuses to teachers and administrators at struggling schools that reduce suspensions for non-violent offenses, drawing criticism from union leaders who say the program could provide a financial incentive to ignore problems and jeopardize school safety,” reports the Baltimore Sun. Teachers also can earn more if their schools reduce truancy and absenteeism.
Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said she fears that the bonuses could exacerbate the problem of educators feeling pressure to keep suspension numbers down, sometimes at the expense of maintaining order in the classroom.
“I’m worried about the safety of our teachers,” English said. “When you offer a bonus for something like that, you are putting a price on what’s going to happen around safety in a school.”
So far, 72 teachers and assistant principals have been given bonuses of $5,000 to $9,500; two principals received $3,000 each. Teachers must have satisfactory evaluations and attendance rates to qualify for a bonus.
Baltimore is using $695,000 in federal Race to the Top funds to pay for the program.