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Oh, I see how this works

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

Over the past two years, Michigan Republicans have stripped over a billion dollars from schools and are working to defund them another $825.1 million this year, as well. They've also reduced teachers' benefits and made their ability to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions more difficult.

Now that they've done so much to make a teacher's job so much more difficult, one Republican is ready to make their pay primarily based on student progress. Current law says that teacher pay should be using job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor. House Bill 4625, introduced by Republican Pete Lund, would make teacher pay based primarily on these factors.

Talking to Michigan Radio, Democratic Representative David Knezek suggested that such a move should wait until a report on a statewide merit-pay system comes back. He said to journalist Rina Miller, "I don’t know why we’re jumping the gun on this. We should be waiting for what the commission comes back and says to us is the proper course of action."

That sounds smart to me: get the facts first, then make policy and law.

Apparently having all of the facts in hand before plowing ahead with passing a new law isn't a prerequisite for Pete Lund:

Bill sponsor Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) says the commission’s recommendation could be more useful if they already have a system in place. Lund says tying educators’ pay to their performance in the classroom would promote student growth and weed out bad teachers.

“We no longer say you are a better teacher just because you’ve been teaching for a long time," Lund says. "If teaching a long time has helped you, your students will grow, they will be better students, they will learn more, and you’ll be properly compensated properly for it.”

That's all well and fine if Lund and his ideologically extreme and anti-teacher, anti-public schools Republican colleagues hadn't spent the last two years knee-capping teachers and making their job so much harder. They have essentially made it harder for teachers to help their students succeed and now want to punish them by making progress, something that is much, much harder to achieve, the basis for their pay.

Every teacher I talk to tells me how they are constantly being asked to "do more with less". It's gotten worse under the current crop of Republicans. This bill of Rep. Lund's is just a backdoor way of driving down teachers' wages in preparation of converting most if not all of Michigan schools to for-profit charter schools. Lower teacher wages and benefits = higher corporate profits. But, before that can happen, they have to eliminate competition from public schools where teachers are paid more.

Let's just be very clear about that.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Thu May 09, 2013 at 09:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, Your Government at Work, State & Local ACTION Group, and Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, sure. (9+ / 0-)

    Rich students tend to progress, while poor students do not.  So, let's send more resources to the rich schools and penalize the poor ones.

    Makes perfect sense.  If you're a Republican.

    You wanna f*%^ with Big Bird? You gotta come through me.

    by DaveV on Thu May 09, 2013 at 09:07:07 AM PDT

  •  I hate to nitpick here... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ShoshannaD, Youffraita, Klusterpuck

    ...but I don't know that your headline is accurate.

    The bill would tie teachers' pay mainly to students' scores on standardized tests.

    It is still an open question as to whether those tests actually measure "student progress" and/or whether the kind of "progress" they measure is what we want our students to be "progressing" in—to say nothing of whether or not the "progress" they measure is attributable directly to one specific teacher as opposed to myriad other factors.

    This is an important distinction, because I'd wager that for the right-wingers in the "reform" crowd—which sadly include many so-called Democrats—the frame of "tie teacher pay to student progress" focus-groups pretty well, if you don't give people too many details.

    Not only is it more accurate to write that this scheme would "tie teacher pay to standardized tests," it also (rightly) associates so-called "merit pay" with the extremely unpopular standardized testing regime, right at the moment when many parents are dealing with their kids being stressed out because they've spent the last month and a half in test prep or testing.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu May 09, 2013 at 09:29:03 AM PDT

    •  This is from the Legislative Analysis... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamesGG, Klusterpuck, Larsstephens

      ...that can be found at the link above:

      House Bill 4625 would amend the Revised School Code (MCL 380.1250) to modify the criteria school districts, intermediate school districts, and charter schools must use to set compensation for teachers and administrators. The bill would require that job
      performance and job accomplishments be the primary factor (rather than a significant factor) used to determine compensation, and that the evaluation of job performance be based primarily upon student growth data. The bill would apply to teachers and administrators hired after the bill's effective date. A more detailed description of the bill follows.

      Now under the law, school officials must use a method of compensation for teachers and school administrators that includes job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor in determining compensation. The assessment of job performance must incorporate a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system that evaluates a teacher's or administrator's performance at least in part based upon data of student growth, as measured by assessments and other objective criteria.

      Highlighted bits are also highlighted in the analysis.

      My use of the word "progress" comes from that except that they used the word "growth". But, yeah, at the end of the day, this will be based mainly on test scores.

      Also, too, I had to really pair down my title to fit it into the character limits of Daily Kos posts ; )

      "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
      -- Dr. Peter Venkman

      Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

      by Eclectablog on Thu May 09, 2013 at 09:50:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If there were a substantial number (5+ / 0-)

    of classrooms where the students tested at 100% proficient, no one would say, "Our state's teachers are excellent." Instead they'd say, "Either these tests are too easy or people are cheating." And even if investigation showed that the tests were rigorous and the results were true... they'd decide that the tests should be harder, until kids started failing again.

    We have this curious, simultaneous belief that not all kids can be proficient and yet also that any decent teacher can make all kids proficient by mere force of will, with some sort of x-ray-laser mind-meld.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu May 09, 2013 at 10:10:46 AM PDT

  •  Fighting these idiots in Lansing is like (6+ / 0-)

    Whack-a-mole these days.  It's a full time job just keeping up enough to write, make calls, show up in Lansing to fight everything they are doing.  Thanks for keeping us informed - we need you.

    Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

    by GwenM on Thu May 09, 2013 at 10:29:27 AM PDT

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