Teaching Profession

N.Y.C.'s “Rewarding” Merit-Pay Plan

By Vaishali Honawar — October 09, 2008 1 min read
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American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is not too happy about a recent New York Times article on D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s proposed performance-pay plan for teachers, which she says falls way short of a merit-pay plan Weingarten signed off on in New York City earlier this year.

In a letter to the newspaper that appeared this morning, Weingarten, who also heads the United Federation of Teachers in New York, says the plan “that you applaud is one that Chancellor Rhee intends to impose upon teachers, not one that she hopes to develop with teachers.”

Rhee’s plan, she adds, shows “no effort to replicate the types of programs that encourage creativity and risk-taking by teachers that have been so rewarding to both children and teachers in New York City.”

Many in the AFT’s Washington affiliate have been opposed to the plan, so Weingarten’s anger is not surprising. But here’s where we are confused: When the New York plan was put forward, the inside word was that Weingarten wasn’t too happy about it because it does base a good part of the bonuses on student test scores—something unions just don’t like. But the UFT ultimately gave in because the relentless Joel Klein administration simply wouldn’t give up. Now Weingarten has always praised the plan in public, but when did it go from being one that was forced down the union’s throat to one that’s the answer to teachers’ prayers everywhere?

Maybe after last month’s news that 6,000 teachers in New York would get $19.7 million under the plan?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.