you support merit pay for teachers?
HB: This is difficult because of the politics involved in
the school system. If you end up a favorite of the principal you
automatically get favored treatment. You can have merit pay, but
you have to find an objective standard.
We must have school-based merit pay determined by performance
to reward those who do the best job as evidenced by increased
student achievement. We don’t pay the good teachers enough and
it’s too difficult to get rid of the bad ones. An across-the-board
salary increase for teachers is also warranted, with any and all
savings from efficiencies in the contracts with the teachers,
staff and facilities being used to increase their compensation,
but the public has a right to get good schools in return. And
we should pay teachers more for working in shortage areas.
To me, merit pay is a side issue. It answers the question of how
to incent the best teachers but does not address how we remove
poor performers, provide quality professional development to all
of the force or recruit and retain the best teachers. I believe
that we must reform the school system to give principals the latitude
to make sure that excellent teachers are brought on board and
incompetent teachers shown the door—quickly and fairly. It should
not take years to rid our classrooms of poor teachers. I have
proposed a 30 percent salary increase for teachers to ensure they
stay with us after we have trained them. It will be funded by
offsets in spending at 110 Livingston Street.
I think there are too many variables to determine which individuals
are to receive merit increases. Instead, NYC must shrink the salary
gap with the suburbs and offer ‘incentive pay’ to teachers who
a) serve as mentors to junior colleagues, b) get extra credentials
and training, c) choose to work in tougher schools and d) are
rewarded for school-wide improvement. But in exchange, teachers
need to spend more hours at the school with a workday that includes
time for school team meetings and real professional development
that doesn’t cut into regular instructional hours.
I don’t support merit pay competition. It is too hard to quantify
teachers performance, especially with the variability among students.
These is a proposal for merit pay by buildings which the union
has indicated a willingness to consider. I think the union would
go for bonuses for master teachers, or for teachers who volunteer
to go into the tougher schools. You get better teachers by paying
them more and treating them as professionals. Every secretary
has a phone, teachers don’t get phones. Why can’t we provide apartments,
or subsidize mortgages?
We need to have a qualified teacher in every classroom. But
in order to attract and retain qualified teachers, we must fix
our current teacher pay system. I took an important first step
in that direction by implementing the NYC Teach Program, which
provides tuition fee breaks or loans for graduate school students
who commit to teaching in city schools for three years. As Mayor,
I would negotiate in good faith to ensure that we do all we can
to pay teachers what they are worth.
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