Tag Archives: incentives

Lessons from Boulder Valley: Hoping for No Strike and Even More

The negotiations surrounding the teachers union contract have broken down. Now the situation appears to be getting quite tense in the Boulder Valley School District. Last week I expressed my hopes that the teachers choose to act like professionals, rather than rehash last spring’s “sick out” or even worse. This Daily Camera report (complete with video) from Tuesday’s Boulder Valley School Board meeting indicates the growing possibility that my hopes may not be met: Union officials said they don’t know what value fact-finding would provide, and they’d rather go through the budget to find the money needed to move toward professional pay. Regardless of how negotiations move forward, King has said schools won’t be interrupted. The teachers’ union has said taking some sort of “job action,” such as a strike, is a possibility but they hope to avoid it. [emphases added] Four items to consider:

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Why Effective Education Reform Often Is So Hard: Pueblo Edition

Yesterday’s Pueblo Chieftain featured a very telling story of why serious education reform cannot simply be entrusted to the good will of local school bureaucrats. Not that they aren’t necessarily trustworthy, because most of them certainly are. But the prevailing number of federal and state regulations, added on top of the provisions negotiated into the master union contract, have stacked incentives in favor of pleas for more money to help get them out. See what I mean: Local school administrators are well aware of the attempts by districts around the country to find ways to reward teachers and give them incentives to do better but it’s not something that can be done without also finding ways to pay for it. Kathy West, interim superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, said that there are indications that new federal programs will be coming soon to help cash-strapped districts like Pueblo’s do that. But for the time being the district remains with its narrowly worded contract and pay scale that bases salaries on years worked, degrees and training earned and on annual across-the-board pay increases. “It’s just too hard….” In other words, labor peace trumps teacher quality.

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I've Been Wrong Before, But Michael Bennet Gets It Right This Time

Our own appointed U.S. Senator and former Denver Public Schools superintendent Michael Bennet conducted a recent Q & A on federal education reform with Linda Kulman for Politics Daily. Here’s his answer to one question about incentives not matching objectives in the education system: We have not updated our theory of human capital, which is a fancy word for saying how do we attract and retain people to public education, since the labor market was one where women had two professional choices: being a nurse or being a teacher. We say to people, “We’d like you to come be a teacher, we imagine that you’re going to teach “Julius Caesar” every year for the next 30 years, we’re going to pay you a really terrible wage compared to what you could make doing almost anything else. … The way most school districts and states pay teachers in this country (is) if you leave any time in the first 20 years, you leave with what you’ve contributed to your retirement system … but if you stay for 30 years, you (get) a pension that’s worth three times what your Social Security is worth. No matter what else you want to do, […]

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The Real World Would Recognize (and Deal with) Both Good and Bad Teaching

Every child is always a winner … Children just need better self-esteem … We only need to use positive incentives to help children learn more … Let’s reward the good but pretend like the bad doesn’t exist … I’m only 5 years old, and I get that this is marshmallow world nonsense. In fact, it’s the kind of silliness that makes many people question (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) the value of much of what goes on in public education. It gets even worse when the principle is applied not only to students, but also to teachers. At least if the union has its way. Witness the evidence from Chicago, a city with many failing schools: principal evaluations found only 3 out of every 1,000 teachers had unsatisfactory performance. While unions thrive on fears of bogeyman administrators who take out their vindictiveness on good teachers they don’t like, this evidence at least indicates the problem tips in the other direction. In any case, wouldn’t a more objective data system be better?

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Keeping Effective Teachers? Colorado Would Grade Better on the Curve

An absolutely vital key to successful education is high-quality instruction. So how well is Colorado doing in keeping effective teachers on the job in classrooms like mine? (Answer below) On a new iVoices podcast, you can listen to Sandi Jacobs – vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) – talk with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow about her group’s new State Teacher Policy Yearbook and where Colorado fits in: To dig more in depth, go take a look at NCTQ’s Colorado report (PDF).

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What Teachers Say Attracts Them to Work in Tougher School Environments

What does it take to attract teachers to serve in the more challenging school environments? Part of Denver’s ProComp program rewards teachers who work at hard-to-serve schools with a $2,345 bonus this year. While the extra money definitely plays a part in providing incentives to some, there are other factors that help attract teachers to challenging environments they might not otherwise choose. As Ed News Colorado reports about a new study: Augenblick, Palaich and Associates surveyed teachers and principals at 16 relatively high-performing public schools – some charters, some district schools – in six cities coast-to-coast. The study, undertaken in collaboration with district and union leaders from Aurora, Denver and Jefferson County public schools, was funded by Denver’s Rose Community Foundation. The study participants were overwhelmingly from elementary schools, so people reviewing results should keep that in mind, researchers stressed. Dale DeCesare, one of the study’s authors, said he was surprised by the emphasis teachers placed on the effective use of technology. Overall, availability of technology ranked as the third most important factor in creating positive working conditions. As someone surfing the Internet and reading an education blog, you must have some appreciation for the value of technology. The article […]

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Compromise Boost to Denver ProComp Accepted; Now It's Time to Ratify

The kids in Denver were big winners when the local school board and teachers union headed off a potential strike at the eleventh hour. They also won when it was agreed that tense negotiations would be averted for another three years. But how well did they fare from the actual terms of the final compromise agreement made between DPS and DCTA? Considering what might have been, Denver Public Schools students came out pretty well. Why? As the editors of the Rocky Mountain News pointed out yesterday, the school district’s nationally-known teacher performance pay program got a boost toward meeting its original purpose: First, it dramatically increases the incentives available under ProComp. Several key bonuses for early and mid-career teachers will more than double, from $1,000 to $2,345 a year each. These incentives reward teachers who choose difficult-to-teach subjects, work in hard-to-staff schools and whose students improve in the classroom. In that regard, a new incentive will be available to teachers in the schools ranking in the top 50 percent in growth of student achievement. These changes will ensure that, compared with the existing agreement, much more money provided by the ProComp mill-levy will wind up with top-performing teachers and not […]

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