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Meriting Dissent

As we recently reported, performance-pay plans have been gaining popularity around the country. But educators in Houston are learning that the reality doesn’t come without a certain amount of angst. This week, more than half of Houston’s teachers are expected to receive bonuses ranging from $500 to $7,000 under a multipronged formula based on student test results. Some teachers and union leaders in the district are charging that the formula is too complicated to fully decipher and that the payout will breed dissension among teachers who fail to get bonuses—and even some who do receive them. “It’s always nice to get more money,” said one 7th grade teacher. “But the things I hear from teachers, we just kind of think it’s terribly unfair. We do the best we can.” District officials acknowledge the system is complicated, but maintain that the basic premise is both simple and fair: “If [teachers] do a better job of teaching children than most other teachers do, then they’ll get the money,” said district spokesman Terry Abbott.

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