Little Rock 'n roll
For those who can't get enough of Sunday's story about teacher bonuses in Little Rock, here's some worthy nuggets that had to be nixed from the story because of space constraints:
The story mentions a survey by a University of Arkansas researcher who found teachers getting bonuses in the Little Rock pilot project had far different attitudes about cooperation and standardized testing than teachers at similar schools who were not getting the bonuses. To be more specific: When teachers were asked if performance pay increases collaboration among teachers, 83 percent of the pilot teachers said yes, compared to 19 percent of non-pilot teachers. When asked if performance pay led to counterproductive competition, 22 percent of pilot teachers said yes, compared to 74 percent of non-pilot. When teachers were asked if gains on student test scores were an appropriate measure of teacher effectiveness, 65 percent of pilot teachers said yes, compared to 19 percent of non-pilot. To see more survey results and more details about the Little Rock program, click here.
What's happening in Little Rock suggests that if a performance pay system is designed right, teachers might start fighting for bonuses, contrary to what's happening in Florida. Who knows? Maybe teachers might even be willing to buck their unions to get the extra cash. Several teachers in Little Rock told the St. Petersburg Times they were union members - until the Little Rock union came out so strongly against the bonus plan. "Not anymore," said Angela Rodriguez, a kindergarten teacher at Meadowcliff Elementary. Rodriguez didn't want to say how big a bonus she got last year, but it was enough to pay for new carpet at the house and a family vacation to SeaWorld in San Antonio. Another Meadowcliff employee, instructional coach Dee Ann Morgan, recalled union reps grumbling at a school board meeting while pro-bonus teachers were encouraging the board to expand the pilot. They were "disrespectful," she said. She said she quit the union after 20 years as a member.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter