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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.








Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Merit Pay bargained away for 2008-2009--At the Insistance of the Teacher's Union

The PNJ ran the story today about the Escambia County School Board bargaining away Merit Pay at the insistance of the local NEA affiliate, "the association" the EEA, the Teacher's Union.

here it is:

http://www.pnj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009904140308

Obviously I do not agree with giving it up, and I'm sure many teachers (especially the high performers) did not want to see it go either. Last year we awarded nearly 1000 teachers the $2,000.00 Bonus. We would have done the same again this year------but a few who control the union agenda locally slammed their fists on the bargaining table and said NO! NO MERIT PAY!

President Obama Supports Merit Pay, judged in part on student performance--just as his Education Secretary Arne Duncan does. They even put a special $200Million in the ARRA stimulus package to reimburse states that have teacher incentive pay plans. Guess some union folks locally did not get that memo--and these same few want to continue to be guardians of the Status Quo. To this small minority of union ideologues, treating everyone equally, regardless of performance and only rewarding senority and longevity are the keys to success.

I think these folks have it badly wrong. Perhaps that is why their membership numbers continue to slip, and "the association" does not even claim a majority of Escambia County instructional employees as members.--That's right --most teachers in our district are not union members. That did not make it into the story today either.

And some teachers did appreciate merit pay, like the one who was quoted in the news journal, and the one who sent me this below email: (and probably many others that share the sentiment that Merit Pay should not have been abandoned!)


04/14/09 10:28 AM >>>

I just wanted to take a moment of your time to express my appreciation for your stand against cutting merit pay for teachers. Upon receiving merit pay last year, I must say that I finally felt appreciated and recognized for my efforts.

Around 93% of my students showed learning gains on the XXXXXX portion of the FCAT test, and I am grateful that someone noticed.

The individual performance of each teacher in this district greatly varies, and I hope that in the future, those in authority will welcome the opportunity to award those teachers whose performance is outstanding.

Sincerely,

Escambia County Teacher

Here was my response:

Dear Escambia County Teacher,


Thank you for the email. I just wish I was able to convince my counterparts on the Board and the Superintendent that keeping Merit Pay was especially important this year. We have nothing in the budget for raises--and at least we would have been able to provide a number of the top teachers with the merit bonus had it not been bargained away at the insistance of the union. It is frustrating, but I'm glad that you received the award last year, and next year I will again push hard--as hard as I can as one board member--to award excellent Escambia County teachers with merit pay.

You know, the big part of the story that did not make it into the newspaper today is that Merit Pay is gaining momentum nationwide--not just among conservatives like me, but also among progressives. My President, our President, Barack Obama, supports merit pay based in part on student achievement. So does his Education Secretary Arne Duncan. There is even a several hundred million dollar portion of the massive stimulus bill that is designated for states who have teacher incentive pay plans. Florida will be eligible to receive a portion of theses funds for the MAP plan. But Escambia County will not get one thin dime of that money for this year, not a penny.

President Obama, Governor Crist, Senator Gaetz, and many policymakers on both sides of the aisle locally and nationally who want to stimulate the education system are pro Merit Pay. It is sad, to me, that a few (staunch guardians of the status quo)who are vehemently opposed to merit pay for inane ideological reasons would fight and push to keep great Escambia teachers from getting a bonus this year. Especially this year. It is truly sad. But we will try again next year--and we will get it back.

Thanks for everything you do for our students, hope you have a great rest of the year and summer.

Sincerely,
Jeff Bergosh
Escambia County School Board, District 1
850-469-6147

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