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Incentivizing the Workplace

The Dallas Independent School District is trying desperately to get its best teachers into its worst classrooms, according to The Dallas Morning News. In 2007, the district offered teachers $6,000 to make the move. The incentive only culled about 65 teachers, so this year they’re offering $10,000. There is no official count of how many teachers have taken the money this year, but the Morning News reports that “a review of district staffing records shows that the number probably was not significantly higher.”

According to Dallas teachers’ union representative Dale Kaiser, teachers’ reluctance to move isn’t necessarily an issue of money. Issues of campus discipline and “chaotic learning environments” coupled with teachers’ fear of getting fired for poor test performance, is keeping teachers away.

"The district is putting teachers' heads on the chopping block," said Kaiser, president of the NEA-Dallas teacher's group, in the Morning News. "Once discipline breaks down [on a campus], it's over. Teachers who are in good working situations now look at that and ask themselves, 'Why would I risk it?'"

District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has acknowledged those fears and hopes to address them by offering teachers who switch a two-year contract that guarantees they can’t be fired for low test scores during that time.

If financial incentives don’t work out, the district is considering simply reassigning teachers as needed, something that’s seen as unpopular on all sides. “Forced placement [of teachers into low-performing schools] is tough, but I'm not going to rule it out," Hinojosa said. "We need to get a whole lot more great applicants" at those campuses.

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