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Refocusing the Incentive/Bonus Debate

[Editor’s note: Peter Goodman blogs at Ed in the Apple, where this post originally appeared.]

Joe Torre reached the post season playoffs the last twelve years . . . for Yankee management it wasn’t good enough. Steinbrenner and company offered him a contract with a substantial pay cut with performance incentives for reaching the post season.

Torre turned it down!

He especially objected to the incentives – the assumption that somehow he could coach better in the playoffs for monetary incentives. Incentives were an insult.

Torre has a lot in common with teachers – will teachers teach “better” when offered incentives?

At least for teachers salary is based on years of service and the newly agreed upon “bonuses” are over and above base salaries.

Actually the NYC Agreement, to a degree, mirrors what happens with post season money for baseball players. The players themselves decide how to divvy up post season dollars. The players determine full shares and fractional shares – for players, for players who only play part of the season, coaches and other staff.

Schools themselves will have to vote whether to participate in the program and elected representatives of the UFT Chapter, and Management, will have to agree upon the division of the bonus cash, i.e., shares.

There is a certain irony that the Randi Weingarten negotiated the bonus agreement as the Shanker biography, “Tough Liberal,” is rolled out. The bonus plan is truly Shankeresque.

The drumbeat for merit pay, aka pay for performance, is resonating across the country, from the draft NCLB legislation, the foundations, the blogs and the NYC school leadership.

The NYC bonus plan moves the focus from individual teacher bonuses to school wide bonuses.

The individual pay for performance ideologues ignore the reams of research that point to collaboration as the key to increasing performance.

Perhaps, just perhaps school systems will begin to provide supports for teacher collaboration – the key to school improvement.

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2 Comments:

  • 1 xkaydet65
    · Oct 24, 2007 at 10:54 am

    The merit type pay does not mirror baseball playoof money. For one that money represents a singular measurable achievement that cannot be contested and that is absolutely an intrinsical part of the ganme, ie winning the World Series. The awards are not for best team, most improved team, most cooperative team. Inded the history of the series shows that the “best “team does not always win.

    Our bonuses are linked to a specific set of results that do not measure the best teachiong or most effective sets of accomplishment, ie standardized test results.

    Finally, if the Sawx win the series, neither their owner, GM, manager, nor coaches will have any say in how the monies are distributed. That will be dicided by the guys who won the last game of the year.

    If you want to align our situation with that of professional sports the principals should be allowed NO voice in deciding who gets what. Indeed while teachers are the instruments by which the admins achieve their bonuses we have no say in determining which administrator deserves the largest bonus. Our current agreement bears only the most superficial resemblance to the monies divided among championship pro teams.

  • 2 jd2718
    · Oct 24, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    “elected representatives of the UFT Chapter” … “will have to agree upon the division of the bonus cash”

    The agreement specifically includes people in UFT titles who are agency fee payers. In other words, it is not a chapter vote, but something broader.

    I am not certain why we included non-UFTers.

    Jonathan