Friday, December 23, 2016

How to Reward Teachers

by Phyllis Bush

The topic of performance payouts has gotten a great deal of reaction in the past few days. While I would imagine that those who came up with the plan for rewarding teachers were well-intended, I have a lot of issues with merit or performance pay for teachers.

While I was still in the classroom, I thought of myself as a career teacher and as a professional—not as a trained monkey who would perform for a reward. The whole concept of rewards strikes me in much the same way as when students used to ask me if they could get extra credit for this or that. My stock answer was usually something like this: your reward should be the intrinsic value of learning and from the value of spending 55 minutes per day with me.

Most good teachers do not do the things that they do that are above and beyond their contract so that they can be rewarded. They do it because it is the right thing to do. That is not how most teachers are wired. When I paid for things out of my own pocket for my students or for my own classroom, I did it because it needed to be done...not because I was looking for a reward or a Bozo button.

If legislators or schools districts really want to reward teachers, perhaps the best way would be to afford them respect as professionals by providing positive working conditions, by making sure that class sizes are small, by providing salaries that are commensurate with their education and experience level, by providing adequate social services to help children, by funding districts equitably, and by listening to educators' concerns about developmentally and instructionally appropriate methods of teaching.

Merit pay and performance payouts pit teachers against one another. Whether the intent was to reward teachers in specific zip codes, I cannot say, but whatever the case, the result is yet another slap in the face to those who work in the "wrong" district.

[EDITOR: This article was published as a letter in the December 29 edition of the Fort Wayne, News Sentinel]


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From the Network for Public Education – The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos

The more we learn, the more we are certain that Betsy DeVos is bad for public schools and for kids.

When De Vos has to choose between quality schools and “the free market,” she chooses “the free market” of privatized choice every time. The best interests of children take a back seat.

And we know the DeVos endgame–shut down our neighborhood public schools, and replace them with a patchwork of charters, private schools and online learning.

We can’t let that happen and we need your help. Present and future generations of children are depending on us to act now. We now know that some Senators have grave doubts. It is our job to make those doubts grow into active resistance to DeVos. Our senators are in district offices from 12/17 – 1/2.

Here are our three toolkits to help you do your part.

Toolkit 1. Call your senators’ offices. The toolkit with numbers and a phone script can be found here. It includes a link to phone numbers.

Toolkit 2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can find a model here.

Toolkit 3. Visit your senators’ offices. If you cannot get an appointment, hand deliver a letter. Our toolkit, which you can find here has a model to use, and directions to find local offices. If you cannot hand deliver it, send your letter in the mail.

When you go into the toolkits and commit to an action, we have a simple form that let’s us know what you did. As a thank you, you will receive a special badge for your Facebook page or Twitter account each time you complete an action, and you will be entered into our drawing for a copy of Reign of Error signed by Diane Ravitch.

The drawing will be held on January 5th, so please begin your actions today. Share this link on your Facebook page and Twitter account, or email it to a friend.

We thank you for all that you do. Sadly, our nation’s children need you to do more.

For more go to: The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos