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Weingarten Wants TIF Grants to Be Bargained

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AFT President Randi Weingarten said yesterday that she wants federally financed performance-pay grants to be bargained collectively as part of contracts.

Although Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have said that incentive-pay programs should be developed with teachers, they've so far been tight-lipped on how far they would take that idea. Now, with a $517 million request on the table for the Teacher Incentive Fund, Weingarten is basically calling their bluff.

"This can't be about a thousand flowers blooming," Weingarten told me. "There are things we know are based upon research and practice as well as President Obama's core principles, and that includes working together collaboratively."

In a nonbargaining state, she said, districts should take their cues from models such as the Teacher Advancement Program. That school-reform model, run by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, requires 75 percent of teachers to vote in favor of adoption.

Weingarten added that the application criteria should require the plans to contain a strong, embedded professional-development program so that the pay creates a structure for teacher improvement.

"You can't do differentiated pay without alignment to instruction. If you do, it just feels like the old-tie favoritism that was always so bad about merit pay. ... If it's simply a matter of looking at outcomes, not creating the stairs to success, it won't work."

And that would be bad for Obama, who's staked out his education legacy on using data to reform instruction, she said.

"Instead of the federal Education Department and Duncan just challenging other groups to do things differently, this is their challenge too—enforcing the program, enforcing the key ingredients," she concluded.

2 Comments

"There are things we know are based upon research and practice as well as President Obama's core principles, and that includes working together collaboratively"

I agree completely, unfortunately in the experiences I have had with my local union research does not play a part in the bargaining process. If it did we would not be paying teachers more for earning advanced degrees and extra credits because research shows that these have little to no impact on teacher effectiveness and ultimately student achievement.

While the research does show only very modest to no gains in student achievement as a correlate to advanced degrees, research does show that experience in teaching matters. So one could argue that the majority of the existing pay structure is supported by some research (the steps). It's a pretty weak argument to say that districts and unions don't negotiate based on research and practice-based approaches because an element of pay hasn't been proven efficacious as measured by gains in student achievement.

The techniques employed by most current methodolgists are relatively-recent to extremely-recent advances. We've been educating people compulsively in most places in this country for a century. Artifacts are going to exist. They will take time to change. What we're seeing are the seeds for that change to occur.

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