Saturday, September 22, 2007
The Sept. 18 front-page story "Support Grows for Teacher Bonuses" included a common misconception in saying that "teachers unions" oppose performance pay for teachers.
The American Federation of Teachers' position is that it is not the role of the federal government to mandate the use of student test scores in teacher evaluation and compensation. We believe that the decision on whether test scores should affect teacher compensation is best made by local district officials and teachers who know best what will work in their schools.
A number of AFT local unions have helped develop professional compensation plans that consider test scores as one of several factors in how teachers should be compensated. Those plans were developed at the local level with teacher acceptance -- not by the federal government.
The AFT's position on this issue has been widely mischaracterized. That fact, and the No Child Left Behind law's teacher compensation provisions, have become red herrings, drawing attention from other provisions in the law that are equally consequential. Reauthorization is the time to rectify problems with the law, including how student progress is measured, accountability for providers of supplemental educational services and meeting the needs of our most disadvantaged schools and students.
A federal mandate is the wrong approach to teacher compensation. Children are more than test scores, and mandating that salaries be tied to test scores will mean more teaching to the test, instead of teaching children.
EDWARD J. McELROY
American Federation of Teachers