To the Editor:
I am writing to clarify the National Education Association’s position on performance pay for teachers linked to student test scores (“Unions Assail Teacher Ideas in NCLB Draft,” Sept. 19, 2007).
The NEA has never endorsed tying teacher salaries to how students perform on tests. Anyone familiar with the association and its policies would question the veracity of such a statement.
When the Teaching Excellence for All Children, or TEACH, Act was originally introduced in 2005, the NEA sent a letter to U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif, expressing “general” support for the bill, which indeed contained many elements we supported, such as mentoring programs for new teachers and high-quality professional development. We also notified the congressman’s staff in writing, prior to the bill’s introduction, of our several concerns with it—including linking teacher pay to student test scores—and urged that any such program be fully subject to collective bargaining. Since then, the NEA has met several times with Rep. Miller and his staff about the TEACH Act and has never wavered on the performance-pay issue.
The NEA welcomes any conversation about teacher pay because teachers are woefully underpaid, a key reason we are leading an initiative for a minimum $40,000 starting salary for educators. We also support additional pay for teachers who have earned national-board certification or who have agreed to be mentors or to teach in high-poverty schools, because we believe these strategies build a foundation for good teaching and learning.
The NEA is always willing to enter into a dialogue with anyone who shares a sincere interest in raising the salaries of America’s public school teachers.
National Education Association
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2007 edition of Education Week as NEA Favors More Pay—But Not Tied to Test Scores