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Disorder of Merit

Remember that Houston merit-pay mess a couple of months ago?

It’s just gotten messier.

In January, under the largest merit-pay program of its kind, school officials doled out $14 million to almost 8,000 staffers. Exactly who got what became public record—and a public outcry—after a local newspaper printed names and dollar figures.

Perplexingly, some teachers of the year were not among the recipients, who got anywhere from $100 to more than $7,000. So then administrators gave out $1 million more to cover the hundreds of overlooked teachers.

Now comes word that 99 teachers will have to give some of the money back, or face legal action. Officials blame a haywire computer program for the glitch that paid out about $75,000 (in amounts of $63 to $2,800 per teacher) more than the district meant to disburse.

“It’s just another example of how poorly thought out and planned the whole program was, so it’s not surprising these kinds of mistakes are being made,” said Steve Antley, a middle school teacher who didn’t receive a bonus.

Hopefully whoever’s responsible for this mess isn’t in charge of the math curriculum.

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