Panel Members Dispute Depiction of Their Professional Status
To the Editor:
According to the researcher Miles Myers (Letters, April 25, 2007), my contribution to the recent TeacherSolutions report on teacher pay is illegitimate because I am a teacher-coach rather than a classroom teacher. By this standard, his comments might also be dismissed. But perhaps he may be reassured to know that I taught for 18 years at a high-needs middle school in the Oakland, Calif., district, and continue to work in a variety of classrooms on a daily basis as a coach.
His second point, that our group failed to say in the report “Performance-Pay for Teachers” how student achievement should be measured, is just plain wrong. Our report devotes several pages to this critical issue, and states, “We believe teachers should be paid more not only when they produce student-achievement gains on standardized tests but when they can demonstrate individual student progress through credible data from their own classroom assessments” (“Teacher Panel Calls for Overhaul of Pay Across Profession,” April 18, 2007).
I hope Mr. Myers and others will take time to read the full report and the numerous detailed proposals and warnings it contains. Pay-for-performance is a chance to transform our profession. But it is easy to get it wrong. So it must be designed with the active involvement of teachers who know the needs and aspirations that shape a successful plan.
Peer Assistance and Review Program
Oakland Unified School District
To the Editor:
I found it interesting that a group of teachers on break for lunch asked Miles Myers—a nonteacher—to write a letter to Education Week expressing their skepticism that “Performance-Pay for Teachers” was actually written by classroom teachers, and describing the entire TeacherSolutions exercise as a “hustle.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I say this with confidence as one of the 18 TeacherSolutions team members who co-wrote the report.
I am curious to know if any of this school’s instructional coaches or librarians were present at this gathering to hear themselves demoted to “not a teacher.” One of our panel’s “nonteachers” cited by Mr. Myers, a community college teacher, made the move to higher education to facilitate her high school seniors’ being able to begin earning college credits, an important bridge to advanced schooling for students in the Mississippi Delta.
Likewise, as the one newly retired teacher in the group, I can assure him that the credibility I earned in 30 years of practice has not drained away. One of TeacherSolutions’ key recommendations was finding ways to keep good teachers teaching, sharing their expertise in multiple paths to relevant leadership. We believe teachers want these opportunities.
Finally, there are plenty of suggestions in the report for ways to measure student learning using credible data. Mr. Myers should read it and see.
To the Editor:
As a Writing Project fellow, I have admired Miles Myers’ work, and find his disparaging remarks and innuendos about the integrity of our TeacherSolutions team and its recent report disturbing and disappointing.
Mr. Myers and his “lunch gang” may not think of me as a teacher, but that is exactly who and what I am. Yes, in 2005, for family reasons, I had to move from 17 years of teaching high school English to teaching English at the nearby community college. No, I did not leave K-12 behind. I still teach at the local high school, and, as I have for many years, still provide teacher- to-teacher professional development for my colleagues throughout the state.
Student achievement, as we state clearly in our report, can be measured numerous ways, including through the use of standardized testing, teacher-designed assessments, or, as in some schools, performance-based exit projects judged by community and school panels. How those measurements are applied specifically to teacher pay needs to be determined locally, by communities with their teachers.
Our report was intended to generate honest discussion. We would be glad to respond to any serious questions thoughtfully and directly.
A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2007 edition of Education Week as Teachers on Teacher Pay