It may not be a coincidence that the most valuable modern painting is Edvard Munch’s The Scream and that new research suggests that the most effective merit-pay system is the threat of—Aaaaaah!!!—no pay.
What does The Scream have in common with merit pay?
Photo by Ian Burt.
Jay Greene takes on the issue in a wonderfully sassy post this morning headlined “In Chicago—Phony Merit Pay is Dead, Long Live True Merit Pay.” He recognizes that the ink isn’t dry on the deal hammered out between the Chicago Public Schools and the striking Chicago Teachers Union, but he suggests that it was a blessing (in disguise?) that CPS gave up on its attempt at “differentiated compensation” but retained the right to open new charter schools. As Greene argues, the former is “phony” merit pay and the latter is “true” merit pay:
In phony merit pay—the kind that hardly exists in any industry—there is a mechanistic calculation of performance that determines the size of a small bonus that is provided in addition to a base salary that is essentially guaranteed regardless of performance. You can stink and still keep your job and pay. The worst that can happen
I can’t get enough of the Chicago teachers’ union strike. Leave it to the Windy City to provide educators and education pundits with drama worthy of a reality TV series: interesting protagonists, things to fight over, edge-of-your-seat drama.
Leave it to the Windy City to provide educators and education pundits with drama worthy of a reality TV series.
We thought it would be over in time to open schools this morning. But a 3 a.m. email blast from Whitney Tilson had the bad news:
In an astonishing development, the Chicago Teachers Union today voted to continue its strike until at least the middle of this coming week.
Tilson said his “first thought” was sympathy for the parents and children. But his second thought?
…that the outrageous, selfish, greedy behavior by the union is an absolute godsend to we reformers. Parents in Chicago - and everyone else who's paying attention across the country - are so mad that they can't see straight - and it's now 100% directed at the union. This will benefit us in Chicago and nationally for years to come.
By coincidence, while I was reading Tilson’s email, NPR’s Morning Edition
Update: The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract which would allow classes to resume on Monday, the Chicago Tribune reports.
It’s a testament to how peaceful labor relations have been in our schools that the Chicago Teachers Union strike has been front-page and prime-time news since Monday. A national Rorschach test on education: Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Mother Jones weighed in. Like the guillotine, the strike focused the national mind.
The strike could be over soon—and many commentators predicted as much—but no matter when it ends, it offers us a chance to take the nation’s pulse. And the following is a quick roundup of opinion from a few of our notable educators, pundits, and editorial writers; much of it quite good.
First stop, of course, should be the Flypaper’s comprehensive list of stories, put together by a crackerjack team—Joe Portnoy, Pamela Tatz, and Ty Eberhardt. (As a former newsdesk guy, I can feel their pain—worth it, though, as the site proves.) And, of course, one of the best leads comes from our own Mike Petrilli:
I had a reporter ask me this week if I could remember a teachers’ strike as “confusing” as the one in Chicago; it was so hard, she explained, even to know over which issues the teachers were striking.
That’s not an accident. The local and national unions surely realized, after an
The teachers say they want more job protection and more money. The school-board president said there’s “only so much money.” The mayor says the teachers should have stayed at the bargaining table. And parents of Chicago public school students are left holding the bag. After weeks of negotiations, last night the Chicago Teachers Union called it quits, its president declaring, according to the Chicago Tribune, "No CTU members will be inside of our schools Monday."
There will be tremendous pressure to resolve this labor dispute quickly.
Some 140 of the district’s schools will remain open from 8:30 to 12:30, but without any of their 25,000 teachers, according to a CPS contingency plan. That leaves more than 500 schools empty in the nation’s third-largest school district (serving over 400,000 students).
According to the Tribune,
- CPS had offered a 16 percent salary increase over four years, but the CTU said it wanted more health care benefits and bigger first-year increase to compensate for longer school days.
- With rumors that CPS might close 100 schools, the CTU wanted guarantees that laid-off teachers would be recalled.
- There was disagreement over the role of student performance in teacher evaluations.
These are all very familiar issues in public education. But teacher strikes have become rare. (See Rick Hess and Marty West’s 2006 Ed Next story.) Strikes are a risky business, especially in an era when teacher unions have been on the defensive, if not on the ropes,
- Stretching the School Dollar
- Common Core Watch
- Ohio Gadfly Daily
- Board's Eye View
- Choice Words
About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
June 13, 2013
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