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Controversy Brewing Over NYC Teacher Bonuses

The New York Department of Education awarded $3.5 million worth of teacher bonuses on Thursday to 23 high schools across New York City. Some of the money went to under-performing schools that continually receive poor grades on their school progress reports, according to the New York Times.

The teacher bonus program was started in New York City by Chancellor Joel I. Klein, who intends on moving towards performance-based pay, the Times reports.

Under the bonus program, schools meeting 100 percent of their targets receive $3,000 per member of the teachers' union. Schools that reach 75 percent of their goals receive $1,500 for each union member. Committees of teachers and administrators in each school then choose how to allocate the money among the school's union members.

The Secondary School of Journalism in Brooklyn received $162,000 worth of bonuses to split among its teachers, despite receiving a "D" for student progress and a "C" overall for the 2008-09 school year.

"I'm a little bit surprised, but we have made gains," said Abbie Reif, the principal, whose school reached 100 percent of its objectives established by the Department of Education.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Education explained that they awarded the teacher bonuses based on specific goals they established for each school.

"Maybe a school didn't go from a D to a C, or stayed at a C, but it's still making progress," said Ann Forte.

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