Friday, March 14, 2008

Is there only one right way in education?

The last few months we have been working in Utah to help them develop a way to recognize great teachers. Some of their more forward thinking legislators put forth a modest bill to provide $275,000 to teachers who complete our Distinguished Teacher program. That program recognizes teachers based on student achievement through value add analysis (40%), live observation (30%), subject matter mastery (15%) and principal evaluation (15%).

The bill was defeated in the last few hours of the Utah session as the House succumbed to UEA pressures. The union did not want a performance pay plan that has a student achievement component in it. They did want bonuses for National Board Teachers but that bill did not even make it to the floor.

In the sad arena that is education politics, had they offered a compromise right from the start, the $275,000 could have been made available to both National Board and Distinguished Teachers. Legislators would then be able to determine which program worked better for Utah schools or have two choices for recognizing great teachers.

But I continue to see that NEA affiliates will not compromise whether it is alternative certification or performance pay. In Utah they were happier to see both bills fail rather than both potentially split the win if it meant that we might have a little victory for student achievement performance pay plans.

Interesting - - I am sure the 140 teachers who could have received $3,000 a year extra for their great work would certainly disagree with the union making a political point with their money.

News stories:,5143,695259898,00.html

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