Teaching Profession

Senate Committee Alters TIF Language

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 04, 2009 1 min read
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There was some interesting movement on the Teacher Incentive Fund last week, when the Senate appropriations committee took up the Labor-HHS-Ed bill.

The senators inserted some new language that was not in the 2006 appropriations bill that first created TIF, a federal initiative for seeding alternative-compensation systems.

According to the new language, grantees must now demonstrate that the performance-pay systems “are developed with the input of teachers and school leaders.”

That seems like a bone thrown to the teachers’ unions, and it also appears to have assuaged some legislators who were on the fence about the program (read Alyson Klein’s writeup here).

The sense I get from the teachers’ unions, though, is that they won’t be satisfied with anything short of an absolute requirement that these plans be collectively bargained or adopted through a majority teacher vote in states without collective bargaining. I’m sure by now you are all tired of me saying this over and over on this blog, but that is potentially a really big fissure between this administration and the unions. It’s also why the final shape of the Race to the Top and TIF application criteria are so important.

Also take note in Alyson’s story about a failed amendment attempt to boost the appropriation by moving funds out of the Title II teacher-quality state grant program and into TIF. A vocal opponent to this movement was, as Teacher Beat predicted, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

And Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., also apparently didn’t support the shift, asserting that Title II is a “proven program” and TIF isn’t. I had a good chuckle over that, because there’s nary a study anywhere that shows that Title II has raised teacher effectiveness. And as far as I know, there are no plans to evaluate Title II rigorously (as there now are for TIF). Claiming that a program isn’t effective is, of course, a tried-and-true strategy for not supporting something you just don’t want to support.

In the meantime, feel some pity for the program, which is 3 years old and doesn’t even have an official authorization from Congress just yet.

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