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Will the Economy Kill Merit Pay?

Ever wondered how teacher performance-pay plans might fare in these tough economic times?

Already, we've had lashings of bad news from districts around the country as they cut down on teacher jobs and teacher salaries and revise pension plans.

Just today, a report in the Orlando Sentinel said that three months into the school year, most Florida teachers are working for the same salaries they made last year, because of stalled budget negotiations in many districts.

Florida has a projected $3.5 billion revenue shortfall for its coming fiscal year, and some expect worse news when economists issue their next forecast this month.

Florida last year put its controversial and much-revised performance-pay plan on ice because of funding problems, with plans to revive it when money becomes available. But given the state's financial woes, that possibility would appear rather remote right now.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to impose mandatory performance pay has been dismissed by key legislators who say there just won't be the money to implement anything so radical and expensive.

These past few years we've been inundated with news of other performance-pay plans in the making in states and school districts. But will anyone be able to move on these plans any time in the near future? Or will legislators and administrators find ways to fit them in at the cost of other programs?

Let's wait and watch.

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