The USA TODAY editorial page reported last week that Denver voters agreed in November to come up with 25 million dollars in new property taxes to pay successful teachers more money. The article says that school reformers have long predicted that taxpayers would boost teachers’ salaries if they knew that the money would go to the best teachers. But most teachers and unions seemed wedded to the traditional system of seniority, tenure and equal pay.
In recent years, the brightest college students have avoided the teaching profession, largely because of the union’s insistence that all teachers be paid equally, regardless of competence.
The need to attract more talented teachers has always been clear to me. But I would add to the article that talented teachers will quickly leave their chosen field if not supported by a strong school board, competent administration and principals who are selected on their ability to lead. With the recent attempt by District #150 leadership to boost a couple of seniority administrators from earning 92,000 to 130, 000 dollars in less than 18 months shows that the good old boys and girls club in Peoria is still preventing #150 from having an overall successful school system. (I predicted the board would approve the raises tonight, and maybe they did, but my attention span was consumed after about a couple of hours of old visions and plans under new titles that I have heard from administrators and staff starting back with the sorrowful term of Ex-Superintendent John Strand).
Why these large boosts in pay? Because the mandated system from your elected representatives down in Springfield say that most public retirement pay is based on an average of your last four years of salary. With this system in force in the private sector we would be absolutely bankrupt in this country.
Back to the USA TODAY editorial page that also had an opposing view that “Merit Pay Will Fail” written by a teacher in Denver who helped organize resistance to performance pay reform. I’ll quote only his last paragraph “Our public school teachers work hard under difficult conditions and need more support and recognition and deserve a higher base salary”. Bet you a large amount of money that he belongs to the Denver Teachers Union!
In a recent blog I said I am a union man. I am also a management man. However, I support neither if they do not represent those who work under them.
It will be interesting to see how the Denver plans and the new plan in Chicago approved by the union that allows top-rated teachers to evaluate their peers. Last fall, the New York City Chancellor demanded multiple pay innovations, including merit raises, signing bonuses and extra pay for hard-to-staff positions. I hope these plans and many others already in process, help lead the reform movement so badly needed in the public school system.
For those of you that don’t know me, you may wonder why I blog so much on education. If you had read one of the first of my more than 40 published “letters to the editors” starting back in 1994, you would have noted that I believed that our education system was the number one priority for this community. Not highways to Chicago, Gateway Centers, recreation centers, ball parks, zoos or museums. All these are important to a community. None of them are as much of a priority as a sound District #150.
My opinion hasn’t changed.