Sunday, March 15, 2009

Union leader: performance-based pay working in Jefferson Parish

When President Barack Obama suggested more performance-based pay for school teachers, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten gave provisional approval, saying "the devil is in the details."

Here in Louisiana, Jefferson Federation of Teachers President Joe Potts said essentially the same thing when Times-Picayune reporter Barri Bronston sought comments for this article.

The key to a successful program, Potts told the reporter, is openness by administrators:

"Otherwise, teachers start feeling like they bought into a bill of goods," he
said. "Then you start losing the enthusiasm and respect for administrators.
The whole key is in how it is presented."

Potts said the program in Jefferson Parish seems to be working well:
...partly because bonuses, which range from $1,000 to $3,300, are based on how
much students grow academically from year to year, as opposed to how high
they score on standardized tests in single year.

There is another significant factor at work. Teachers in Jefferson Parish have a mature relationship with the school board. Because of the collective bargaining agreement between the board and JFT, it is possible to try new programs in collaboration with teachers.

Similar partnership agreements in other school systems would make it much easier for teachers to embrace change, secure in the knowledge that their concerns must be taken into consideration. Currently, only Jefferson, St. Tammany and three other school systems have collective bargaining partnerships between school boards and their employees.

No comments: