A response to Joel Klein’s “Pay for Performance” Op Ed piece in the New York Sun, October 23rd, 2007.
It has been difficult to keep up with the twists and turns of your administration … from strong centralized top down control to “let a thousand flowers bloom.” From trying to dismantle tenure and a Robin Hood approach to school allocations to bonus pay.
Individual pay for performance, aka merit pay is quite different from school-wide bonus pay. I am gratified that you acknowledge that principal to staff and teacher to teacher collaboration is vital to student progress.
You are quick to pat yourself on the back … but have your programs, whatever they may be, succeeded? NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson questions the data.
High schools with 70, 80 even 90% graduation rates have 20, 30, 40% college readiness rates, using the CUNY college readiness metric. SAT scores are dismal.
Are kids making progress or are we seeing scores being pumped up by manipulations?
More importantly, are we following a path that evidence shows will achieve progress?
A recent McKinsey & Co. study is fascinating:
“Begin by hiring the best … the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of it’s teachers.”
What is interesting is that teacher training institutions only pick the best applicants … rather than expanding the pool they limit the pool, and, because entry is fiercely competitive, teaching becomes a high status job.
Teacher Fellows are the right direction.
Secondly, teachers receive significant support, i.e., hundreds of hours of training, appointing senior teachers to oversee professional development in schools. “…when a brilliant American teacher retires, almost all of the lesson plans and practices that she has developed also retire. When a Japanese teacher retires, she leaves a legacy.”
The current NYC Mentoring Program, unfortunately, is a compliance-only program …
Finally, “… there is a pattern in what countries do once students start to fail … top performers intervene early and often.” In NYC we stand back and allow schools, and their students, to “sink or swim” and use the threat of a “poor grade” to motivate.
Joel, I’m a “glass half full” type of guy … maybe you have “seen the light …,” and the next two years will be characterized by a partnership with teachers and their unions …
I was speaking with a truly wonderful teacher, she lives in Waterbury Connecticut, leaves her house at 5 am and arrives in East New York at 6:30 am … she shrugs over the bonus idea … the “best and brightest” teach because it is a passion … dollars, housing, a pension, health plans enable them to exercise their passion.
I’m a teacher, I always believe I can make a difference, even in teaching a recalcitrant Chancellor.