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Roemer's Teacher-Pay Proposal Advances

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The Louisiana House is expected to begin debate this week on a wide-ranging proposal by Gov. Buddy E. Roemer to change the way the state's teachers are paid and certified.

Under Mr. Roemer's plan, which was approved by the House education committee last week, new teachers would be issued provisional certificates and would have to pass a stringent evaluation to qualify for a "professional'' certificate renewable every five years.

The state would stop paying its share of the salaries of teachers who failed such evaluations after a two-year remediation period.

Under another provision, a new "differential pay'' system would provide teachers with bonuses of up to $14,000 for extra work, such as mentoring junior colleagues or developing curricula.

Current teachers would have to forfeit their lifetime certification and participate in the renewable-certificate program in order to qualify for the bonuses.

Governor Roemer's proposal was included as part of a broader school-reform plan that would drastically change the state school-aid formula, provide all teachers with a 5 percent pay raise, and double the number of steps on the state's teacher-salary scale. (See Education Week, May 18, 1988.)

Late last week, the chairman of the House education panel and the heads of the state's teachers' unions and school-boards association were to meet with Mr. Roemer to discuss the bill.

During a committee hearing last week, officials from the education groups complained "that there was a lack of communication with the Governor'' when the bill was being drafted, said Representative Jimmy Long, the panel's chairman.

Frederick R. Skelton, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said members of his organization were primarily concerned about the provision that would cut off state salary payments for new teachers whose certificates were not renewed.

Although local school boards could opt to pay the full salary of such teachers, he said, "in effect, what they've done is fire that teacher,'' because most boards would be reluctant to assume the extra financial burden.

But the union supports the differential-pay proposal, Mr. Skelton said, because it "allows teachers to be paid for assuming additional duties.''

"We don't view that as merit pay,'' he said. --PW

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