Teaching Profession

Cincinnati Vote Obscures Pay Plan’s Future

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 25, 2001 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers in Cincinnati voted overwhelmingly last week for new union leadership, signaling what some observers say may mean a setback for one of the country’s most radical experiments in performance pay.

Susan Taylor, a high school social studies teacher with 22 years’ experience, won the election for the presidency of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, beating out incumbent Rick Beck, 1,280 to 364. Ms. Taylor, who ran on a platform of creating a more democratic and inclusive union, has advocated slowing down the implementation of the compensation plan.

“I am convinced that the teachers of the Cincinnati public schools don’t fear fair evaluation,” Ms. Taylor states on her campaign Web site. “However, as the implementation of the Teacher Evaluation System has unfolded this year, it is clear that there are flaws and that major modifications are needed.”

The 52,000-student district drew national attention last fall after the union membership ratified the plan, making it the first district to move completely off a traditional salary schedule since 1921. (“Cincinnati Teachers To Be Paid on Performance,” Sept. 27, 2000.) The CFT had worked closely with the administration and the school board in drafting the plan. Unlike designs being mulled in other states, the Cincinnati model does not link individual teacher pay to students’ test performance. It does, however, increase pay for educators who meet teaching goals set by the district. It could also mean salary cuts for some.

Rigorous Evaluation System

The hallmark of the plan, which is being phased in over five years, is the creation of five career categories. Beginning teachers will be labeled “apprentices” and can progress through the system to become “novice,” “career,” “advanced,” and “accomplished” educators, provided they meet specific goals. Frequent, in-depth evaluations will determine whether teachers advance in the career categories, stay put, or slide back into a lower one.

While the evaluation system is already up and running, implementation of the new salary schedule was delayed until next school year as an incentive for teachers’ support of the plan. In May 2002, union members will vote on whether to go ahead with the salary changes. In order to overturn the policy, 70 percent of the union’s 3,100 members would have to vote to do so. Ms. Taylor wrote in her campaign literature that the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, should not support the compensation plan if the current evaluation system is used.

“There is no question that [the evaluation system] is absolutely grounded in solid research,” wrote Ms. Taylor. “Though theoretically sound, in practice [the system] is excessive.”

In a press conference after the election, Ms. Taylor said the new executive council had not yet formulated a strategy and would not answer questions until it had done so.

All but one of the other candidates elected to the union’s executive council and as representatives ran on Ms. Taylor’s slate. About half the union’s members mailed in their ballots for the 27 local candidates.

‘Teachers Are Frustrated’

School and union officials said it was unclear how the election results might affect implementation of the pay plan. Ms. Taylor was instrumental in devising the district’s peer-review program, and she served on the bargaining committee that helped write the compensation plan.

“No one can fully guess what will happen, but clearly [the vote] means that teachers are frustrated with the evaluation model implemented this year,” said Tom Mooney, who headed the Cincinnati affiliate for 21 years before taking over as president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers last year. “I don’t believe this vote means that Cincinnati teachers are going to abandon their support for professionalism. They are clearly saying, however, that this particular process is flawed and not acceptable as is.”

Schools Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski said that despite the problems with implementation and the change in leadership, he is confident the plan will proceed.

“We’ve learned a lot this year, and after making refinements, I fully expect the new president will be at the forefront of being involved with us and continuing the partnership with the district,” Mr. Adamowski said in an interview.

A backlash in Cincinnati could hold a lesson for other districts that are working on similar pay plans, according to Allan Odden, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who helped create the policy and is regarded as a national expert on the subject.

“Teachers could actually have salary reductions [under this plan], and that has created some concern,” said Mr. Odden, who expects to complete his initial evaluation of the Cincinnati program this summer. “There’s a message here for other places thinking about implementing such plans: You have to expect the worry and concern, and you have to have a strategy for dealing with it.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2001 edition of Education Week as Cincinnati Vote Obscures Pay Plan’s Future

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Boost Student Mental Health and Motivation With Data-Driven SEL
Improve student well-being and motivation with a personalized, data-driven SEL program.
Content provided by EmpowerU Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School Climate & Safety Webinar
Praise for Improvement: Supporting Student Behavior through Positive Feedback and Interventions
Discover how PBIS teams and educators use evidence-based practices for student success.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Management Webinar
Build a Digitally Responsive Educational Organization for Effective Digital-Age Learning
Chart a guided pathway to digital agility and build support for your organization’s mission and vision through dialogue and collaboration.
Content provided by Bluum

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession In Their Own Words 'I'm Afraid to Return to the Classroom': A Gay Teacher of the Year Speaks Out
Willie Carver, Jr., the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, is questioning his future as a teacher given recent anti-LGBTQ legislative efforts.
8 min read
Montgomery County teacher and Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Willie Carver, in downtown Mt. Sterling, Ky., on May 11, 2022.
Willie Carver is the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and teaches high school English and French in the Montgomery County, Ky., public schools.
Arden Barnes for Education Week
Teaching Profession Teacher Morale Is at a Low Point. Here's Where Some Are Finding Hope
It’s been a hard few years for teachers. These are the moments with students that are keeping them going.
8 min read
Conceptual Illustration of figure wallpapering blue sky over a dark night
francescoch/iStock via Getty
Teaching Profession Nation's Top Teachers Bask in White House Spotlight
The national and state teachers of the year were honored by the president and first lady in a White House ceremony.
4 min read
First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
Susan Walsh/AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Ignore the Negativity. Be a Teacher
Every day in the classroom offers new experiences, as well as the opportunity to have a major influence on students' lives.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty