Recently the public school teachers of Denver went on strike.
Within a week, they received what they had been asking for: a chance at a living wage for teachers so they could live in the very city where they taught.
For 14 months, teachers in Denver have been negotiating with Denver Public Schools for more pay. On Saturday, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association said talks had broken off and they’ll walk on Monday.
Yes, it’s about money, many have told CNN. But it’s also about the uncertainty of living paycheck to paycheck. It’s about the necessity of taking on a second or third job. It’s about the untenability of carrying on this way much longer.
What Denver had been doing to supposedly “combat” those low incomes was to turn to performance pay. Some call it “pay-for-performance.”
And it didn’t work. Even when the teachers bought into it years ago and entered that initiative with enthusiasm and passion, it didn’t work.
From the New York Times this past week:
Amber Wilson was once an evangelist for performance-based pay systems for teachers, and went from school to school in Denver years ago, pushing her fellow educators to support one for their district.
But more than a decade after the city adopted such a system, Ms. Wilson, an English teacher, says it has morphed into “a monster of unintended consequences.”
Pay-for-performance models like Denver’s offer teachers bonuses for raising student achievement and for taking on tougher assignments, such as in schools with many students from low-income families. Ms. Wilson and many of her fellow educators across the country say that this model — once hailed as a way to motivate teachers — has delivered erratic bonuses while their base salaries stagnate amid rising living costs.
“We’ve been experimented on, and it didn’t work,” said Ms. Wilson, 45. “And it’s time for us to say, ‘No, no, no.’”
When one thinks about all of the performance pay initiatives enacted in NC and all of the other ones floated around by education reformers, it makes one think why can’t we as a state just learn from what other states have done and realize that it will not work here?
Think of the ASD (Achievement School District) in Tennessee and our insistence on creating the ISD (Innovative School District).
Think of Florida’s school performance grading system and its version of Read to Achieve, both of which NC adopted with fervor without any benefit.
And now performance pay.