Education Letter to the Editor

Ex-Ed. Dept. Official: Bonuses Were Merited

September 22, 2004 1 min read

To the Editor:

I’d like to respond to your recent reporting on employee bonuses in the U.S. Department of Education (“Most in Ed. Dept. Are Paid Bonuses for Performance,” Sept. 1, 2004). Your article raises questions about the process for and the fairness of giving these bonuses to employees for work well done. It quotes an obviously unhappy employee who claims that the process is tricky and inequitable, with some, but not all, receiving a fair shake.

And the employee is absolutely correct. Not all receive large bonuses similar to those that Steven Y. Winnick, the deputy general counsel, Thomas P. Skelly, the director of budget services, and others have received. But then, not all employees work as diligently, as well, and as extraordinarily hard as these employees do.

The fact is that the process of giving bonuses requires managers to make very difficult decisions, and to determine who consistently works above and beyond what would normally be considered a good job. These people have, and we should consider ourselves lucky that they remain in government, and are not off following a more lucrative career path.

Susan Neuman

Professor of Education

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich.

The writer is a former assistant U.N. secretary for elementary and secondary education.