HISD board approves bonus program (updated)

Last night I heard a story promo on (I think) KHOU-11 about HISD's proposed teacher bonus program. The promo said something like, "teachers are excited about it, but the teachers union is not." That's an understatement! Gayle Fallon has been very vocal in her opposition to the bonus program.

Well, Gayle can't be happy today -- HISD's board unanimously approved the plan this evening, a plan that has generated positive buzz, both locally and nationally:

The Houston school board unanimously agreed today to launch an incentive pay program that's thought to be one of the most aggressive plans in the country for rewarding teachers who improve student performance.

Designed to attract strong teachers to Houston classrooms and increase academic achievement, the program will pay annual bonuses topping $3,000 in some cases to teachers whose students show strong gains on state and national standardized tests. Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said he hopes the annual bonuses will reach $10,000 in the next five years.


The plan has drawn staunch opposition from the Houston Federation of Teachers, who complain the system is confusing and that the money would be better used to increase salaries for all.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, commended HISD for becoming the first urban district to create such a detailed merit pay plan. He asked teachers to give the program a chance.

"We will never learn anything if we undermine this from the start. Let's give Houston some room to get this right and to see how it works," Casserly said.

Gayle Fallon doesn't like it, of course, because the union can't get its hands on the bonus money, and since the program doesn't involve the union, she loses some power. But she needs to be careful if many HISD teachers are in favor of the program: Gayle risks alienating her breadwinners.

UPDATE: Gayle Fallon gets much inkspace in this New York Times story on the bonus program, which, shockingly, isn't a glowing review. Old dinosaur media protects old dinosaur union thinking!

Also, HISD's press office alerts us that spokesman Terry Abbott will be on KTRH-740 at 9 a.m. this morning, discussing the new plan and taking phone calls.

UPDATE: Now Gayle Fallon is on KTRH. She wants an across-the-board pay hike for all teachers, and she accuses HISD of teaching to the test. Of course, since the TAKS is a measure of education, teaching to the test teaches students things they need to learn. For example, my fourth-grader needs to pass a TAKS writing test this year. Guess what! He's learning (intensive) writing skills, in addition to his other subjects. Call me crazy, but I just don't think that's a bad thing.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 01/12/06 09:45 PM | Print |

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