October 18, 2007 (GBN News): Yesterday’s announcement by the NY City Department of Education of a new merit pay plan for teachers has raised a number of questions. For one, critics have asserted that basing bonuses almost entirely on test scores is not an appropriate way of compensating teachers. However, a source at the DOE has given GBN News more details of the new plan, which are said to address such concerns.
According to the source, schools participating in the merit pay plan will receive bonuses based largely on the school’s test scores, but each school will have a choice of one of the following three options to divide up the money:
- Bonus money would be paid to individual teachers based on the time their classes spend on test prep rather than on the actual scores. Under this system, teachers who spend all day on test prep, for example, will receive more money than those who waste their students’ time with unrelated activities such as art, music, and social studies.
- Bonuses would be spread among all the school’s teachers. If a school chooses this option, the school’s bonus money will come in a large piñata. The piñata will be placed in the center of the gym (for schools that have no gym, a large closet may be used). During assembly period, teachers will break open the piñata and each will keep all he or she can scoop up.
- Bonus money would be used for the school as a whole. A committee consisting of the Principal, a designee appointed by the Principal, and two UFT members will travel to Atlantic City and try to double the award. Of course, they could lose the money entirely, but this option is consistent with the way the Mayor and Chancellor have gambled with the city children’s education for the past six years.