Proving that blind dogs can find a bone.

Here’s a link to a good blog post on the Times. Few people post anything on those blogs other than the staffers. But, from time to time, there’s something interesting.

Full Text:

‘Teachers wary of pay-for-performance legislation’
http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/article/30385/

‘Georgia aiming for an education payout
Hall County’s Schofield chosen to serve on state committee’ http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/article/30260/

I have a few questions for our Mr. Schofield.

1. How will this merit pay be funded? We already are cutting pay and positions and we are expected to believe that we will actually receive this glorious bonus money when earned? Race to the Top money won’t be available for it I believe. So why should we believe this is anything other than an empty, unfunded promise, just like so many other things in education.

2. How many teachers and principals in our schools (or parents for that matter) were consulted when you and the board made the decision to go after this Race to the Top money and the merit pay legislation that is tied to it, that may well affect the livelihood of teachers? Or was this just a top down decision made because you have been appointed to the Race to the Top committee by the Governor?

3. Why should any of us just believe this merit pay process, that has not been defined in the least, is so wonderful just based on your and other politicians say so? From where I sit, we already know you and the board have given bonuses (18 to 19 thousand dollars over 2 years via inappropriate travel money instead of through contracts as would be proper) to your (your own words) “friend and mentor” principal Akridge while many other principals in this system apparently did not receive such merit pay. Did Mr. Bales, who has done such a wonderful job at East Hall Middle turning around test scores receive his 19 thousand dollar bonus? Why should we believe that this glorious merit pay for teachers will even be remotely fairly distributed? We know you have a bonus clause in your contract. Does anyone else in the system have this perk?

4. From the article, referring to Mr. Schofield – ““I just don’t believe they have a legitimate concern because they can opt out. They can stick with the current plan if they like,” he said. But he added that he has “mixed feelings” about the bill only applying to newly hired personnel and leaving it up to current teachers to opt in or out.”

I find your ‘mixed feelings’ a bit scary here. If this district winds up as an IE2 district won’t you and the board then have the power to do away with the ‘opt in’ caveat? This is what I hear from folks in Gwinnett. Please elaborate. I know, teachers shouldn’t have a choice in your perfect merit based system, they should just do as you say and be happy to have the job, no matter how much time, energy and money they may have expended over the years on their advanced degrees and studies. Options should only be for the non rank and file I suppose.

5. Who is going to craft this glorious unknown process for merit pay? Were any teachers or building administrators or parents included up to this point? If not, why should anyone believe for a second that they will have any input down the road?

6. Why are we dead set that bringing into the profession people who are motivated by money, not by a passion for teaching and young people will better our schools? It has the potential to substantially transform the atmosphere and focus of schools – and not for the better from where I sit.
7. Would you please share the solid data and research that shows this merit pay to be a viable and effective model? Is there any?

8. Why is one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states in the US so hot and bothered to bring in even more Federal control and strings to education through Race to the Top/Merit Pay? I would think the majority of constituents in this county would say we need less Federal interference and control, not more.

9. Is it true that the most ‘effective teachers’ can and will be reassigned (regardless of their wishes) to the lowest performing schools under this program?

Mr. S, I understand you may have a vested interest in the success of this Race to the Top/Merit Pay mess. I just hope every teacher and the relatives of these teachers in this county realizes and remembers that when election time comes around for your board members that have backed you on this. Something with this much potential, good or bad, for such an impact on our teachers and students deserves more than the bums rush we are being subjected to. It deserves careful and deliberate discussion and consensus by stakeholders and clearly defined parameters BEFORE becoming the rule of the day.

But, I suppose the those folks actually in the classrooms and buildings dealing with children everyday just aren’t worthy of that sort of input or consideration in charting their own futures any more. Father knows best.

Frankly I am sick to death of the attitude that we do not have the ‘best and brightest’ already in the classrooms. Maybe if we supported the ones we do have a bit more and actually had the courage to fairly work on the very few that may have problems and move them out regardless of their tenured status (instead of just targeting those without tenure to be let go as Hall County did to over 100 educators last year regardless of their effectiveness – for the record I call that that cowardice, not courage) then we can see even more improvement for ALL our students. But instead of this we are on to the next cure du jour.

Teachers, it is time to let your board, legislators, professional organizations and the press know how you feel about this. No one else will, or should, do it for you. You are a HUGE voting block and should remember this fact.

P. S. – Anonymous evaluations?! LOL. Are you kidding?! We can’t listen to anonymous bloggers but we will listen to anonymous coworkers AND it will affect our pay? Hypocrisy reigns!

More Kool-aid please.

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