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55/25 And Voluntary School-Wide Bonuses: Reaction

We’re rounding up reaction to the agreement between the UFT and the city on mechanisms to implement an option for educators who have 25 years or more of service to be able to retire at age 55 without a reduction in benefits and a pilot program establishing voluntary school-wide bonuses in a number of New York City’s highest need schools. Look for more reaction to come.

Brian Lehrer at WNYC interviews UFT President Randi Weingarten.

A look at the gender equity aspect of 55/25, here at Edwize:

One of the important benefits of the 55-25 pension improvement that is often lost in discussion is that it creates greater equity for women teachers, by making it easier for them to retire at an age comparable to their male colleagues. This is an issue of fairness, but it is also a question of building a strong profession of career educators. Women will be more likely to commit to teaching as a life-long profession if they know they will not be penalized for taking a few years off to raise their own children.

and over at Ed in the Apple:

The teacher who took two full child care leaves reaches age 55 with 26 years of service. Under the current law they can not retire with full benefits until they reach 30 years of service . . . [at] age 59.

The newly negotiated pension agreement will give the teacher referenced above the right to retire at age 55 – with 26 years of service.

Ed at the AFT Blog Let’s Get It Right take a closer look:

Another issue is that individual merit pay can pit staff against each other. I’ve read accounts of experiments in the UK that underline this. The city is implementing a team-based reward. The hope is that this will create opportunities (and incentives) for collaboration and teamwork. The program has due process. It only comes into effect if the principal of the school and 55 percent of the UFT staff agree to it. Finally, if I’m reading this right, the plan covers not just teachers, but teaching assistants and a number of key administrative staff as well. A labor-management committee will, if a school meets the benchmark, figure out how to distribute the money, and again, the membership in the school has a chance to ratify the plan.

AFT issued a call to dramatically improve that [teacher] compensation. But I’m under no illusion that we can achieve that goal by simply doing more of the same. This is a step toward a system that both does something different and that can empower the people that do the work.

Can you guess who made this point?

In the schools, it is a much more collaborative effort. It’s really hard to tell whether it is just you or whether it is other teachers in the schools that support you. They in fact may have kids for parts of the day that you don’t have them.

AFT President Edward McElroy takes a broad view:

The United Federation of Teachers and Mayor Bloomberg have worked together to develop a locally negotiated, voluntary, schoolwide initiative that rewards and promotes the collaborative work environment favored by educators. Such initiatives have long been advocated by the AFT. The agreement also provides pension equity for all current and prospective teachers and paraprofessionals. We know that changes in compensation systems work only if, as in this system, they have been developed with—and have the buy-in of—teachers directly affected by the changes.

ACORN Education Committee Chair Julia Boyd thinks school bonuses encourage working together:

The money will go to the entire school – not just individual teachers. A team, made up of teachers and administrators, will decide how best to allocate the money at their local school to continue to boost performance. It’s an incentive for an entire school’s staff – teachers and principals – to come together and improve student achievement.



  • 1 ILuvteaching
    · Oct 18, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I’m against the whole idea. It is a defacto acceptance of the NCLB principle that test scores are the only way to measure growth. I don’t get how I just got another e-mail urging me to fax a letter to congress against merit pay in NCLB, yet here we are giving it a foot hold in our schools. Whatever happened to equal pay for equal work, the most basic principle of unionism? Under this agreement I could work myself to death, but if my students don’t do as well as the teacher across the hall, well potentially tough noogies on me! (did I just actually write tough noogies?) I know you will likely write in response something like “this won’t happen in a school where there is good collaboration between administration and teachers…blah, blah, blah.” Great idea in principle, but not reality. So far every article or post written by a union member reads a “A team, made up of teachers and administrators”, but my understanding is the actual language in the agreement is very clear. The 4 people are: 1. The Principal 2. An Assistant Principal 3 & 4. 2 union members elected teachers. First why not just write this? It reeks of deception and second how much influence can anyone reasonably believe regular teachers will have over their Principal and AP? I sit on a few different “committees in my school”. The meetings all follow the same formula. My Principal tells us what she/he plans on doing and we get to node approval. If anyone does have a different view the response is usually thanks I’ll consider that, then she/he does what they want. Before you respond to this with any comments about my Principal you should know Randi has visited my school and lavished it with praises about what a wonderful example of collaborative spirit it is. As for the argument that this is not individual merit pay? A committee of 4 gets to determine whom and how much each and every person gets. How is this so much different than individual merit pay?
    I know the arguments, but come on.

  • 2 firebrand
    · Oct 18, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    I have the exact same fears…I guess we’ll have to “wait and see”. I think we’re in the minority.

  • 3 mevans212
    · Oct 19, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    ILuvteaching, why would your school vote to be in the bonus program?

  • 4 jd2718
    · Oct 20, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    It’s two people in covered titles, whether or not they are actually UFT members. I don’t know why we included agency fee payers.


  • 5 Steve Perez
    · Oct 23, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Test scores will be one way progress in a school is measured, but not the only measure. And progress will be measured school-wide, not by teacher. That will give teachers in a school incentive to work together, rather than giving them incentive to compete, which is what individual merit pay does. Will it work? We agree that it will work in schools that already collaborate. One thing the pilot program tests is whether incentives will encourage schools to collaborate so they get to that point.

  • 6 Steve Pullano
    · Oct 25, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    All of this is just fine and dandy in the make believe world that these “aristocrats” live in. It is not the real world.

    In the real world we have administrators who hire their friends and relatives. In the real world the more competent you are the more you get to do and the less competent you are the less you get to do.

    In the real world it is not how good of a teacher you are but whether you are liked by others who may perceive you as a threat or because you don’t have the same beliefs as they do.

    Why not have the input of the young people in this.
    They are the “customer/consumer” in this new business model. Or is their opinion not valued.The entire concept is flawed. Being judged by individuals who have their personal agendas in place instead of the greater good is just asking for trouble.

    In the real world we have administrators who buy into the latest learning craze because they are told to. Posting endless sheets of notes on the walls and post its on them is insane. Yet we are told we must do it by some wonk downtown who has probalby never taught a day. Yet we are to belive that this is a good idea.

    It was probably the only way to get the 25-55 pension reform in but it is really just a spoonful of medicine to help the poison go down.I am ashamed to say it but this is not a solidarity stance. We need to clean up our profession and that means getting the educrats to understand that what we do is more than just teach a subject.

    In the real world we nurture the forgotten encourage the forlorn and console the damaged-all of whom are a result of societial apathy. To say we would do more or better or be more involved because of money is a pathetic commentary on modern day society and to tie it to a test is just plain short sighted and destructive.

  • 7 Persam1197
    · Oct 28, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    I think Joe Torre said it best: “It’s an insult to think that I need motivation to do my job.”

    We are working like widget makers in an outsourced factory. Recent retirees are smiling, well aware that they have left just in time. And there’s more paperwork and assessments coming down the pike. What’s interesting is that we’re actually providing less instructional time to our kids with all this nonsense.

    The plan outlined by the UFT is nothing less than misguided.