State of the States
Schwarzenegger Targets Teacher-Pay Structure
Teachers’ pay would be tied to their performance, not tenure, under a “far-reaching plan Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put forth last week for restructuring California’s government and easing its long-standing financial problems.
Gov. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, called on teachers to help him change the pay structure and lead the drive to improve the state education system during his State of the State Address on Jan. 5.
He also pledged to propose legislation that would expand charter schools and vocational education and instill “fiscal transparency” to show the public how schools spent money. California has more than 500 charter schools.
Education groups expressed surprise at the plans. Barbara Kerr, the president of the California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said that the merit-pay plan was a “smokescreen” to hide a broken agreement that the governor made with education groups last year, when he assured them that education would get more funding after taking a hit.
“The tone was very different than his first state of the state and I am puzzled as to why,” she said. “It was not let’s all work together to do this; it was startling.”
She said the teacher-pay plan would be too expensive and bureaucratic to implement.
But Mr. Schwarzenegger’s education proposals appeared minor compared to other broad-based changes he proposed in the government structure, which he plans to address in a special legislative session in the coming weeks.
The state’s current finance system must be changed, the governor told the lawmakers, because the state keeps overspending and running large deficits.
“We must have a new approach that overrides the formulas, overrides the special interests, and overrides the forces that have turned some of you from legislators into clerks,” he said.
Raising taxes, he added, would drive up spending and exacerbate the problem. He said he also plans to abolish more than 100 state boards and commissions—some of them school-related—that employ more than 1,000 political appointees.
Vol. 24, Issue 18, Page 22Published in Print: January 12, 2005, as California