I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Merit Pay for Pensacola Teachers--A Balanced Article From the PNJ

The PNJ article on Merit Pay in today's edition was fair and balanced. from the piece:

"About 340 Escambia County educators have opted out of the merit pay program, about 160 fewer than last year. The Legislature appropriated around $38 million for the Merit Award Program, which gives bonuses to high-performing educators and administrators"

I'm glad that the very important statistic (fewer teachers opting out) was a centerpiece of the story. This statistic in and of itself is important, but the other statistic that is equally important will be where the score cut-off point is this year, delineating the statistical top half of teachers (who will receive merit pay) from the statistical bottom half of teachers (who will not receive the award) Fewer people opting out combined with a higher score to win the award will solidify the view that the overall goal of the program--to improve overall districtwide performance--is being met.

I disagree with Gail Husbands' assessment in the article that the reason that more teachers are participating this year is simply due to the poor economy. I think this view is an oversimplification.

I don't understand the reasoning behind publishing the names of the teachers that opted out, either. With this list of 340 opt-outs, it would be interesting to drill down the statistics to know how many are EEA Union Members--my hunch is that it is a high percentage on this opt-out list. Typically, Organized Teacher's Unions nationwide have been wary of any sort of Merit Bonus System that rewards fewer than all teachers equally. The important points to know locally as they relate to our Florida Merit Award Plan are that Gail Husbands, the EEA, Andy Ford, and the FEA have all endorsed the Merit Awrd Plan. The other important data point to be aware of (that did not make it into the article) is that a majority of Escambia County Teachers are not Union Members.

Overall, to have only a hair over 10% of Escambia teachers opt-out is encouraging, because this means nearly 9 out of 10 teachers are "in" this year. I'd like to see the participation rates cotinue to increase as the program continues to move forward.

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