Merit Pay, the Newark Contract, and one from the archives

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the November 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 November

Merit Pay and the Newark Contract

In a hotly contested election, Newark teachers approved a contract that includes merit pay. We do not want to criticize the teachers themselves – they were under tremendous pressure to approve this contract, from the politicians, and from the AFT. The NY Times reported:

“Though Ms. Weingarten had criticized what she calls “merit pay schemes,” she and the other union leaders agreed to embrace the concept in exchange for a promise that teachers would have a rare role in evaluating performance…”.

New Action/UFT opposes all merit pay schemes, master teacher schemes, and proposals to peg salary increases to pay for performance. Like the teachers union in Chicago, we believe that what happens here will have an impact among teacher unions everywhere.

May 9, 2001 – New Action/UFT  Says No to All Forms of Merit Pay!

New Action/UFT opposes all individual and school-wide merit pay (incentives), as well as any other non-objective pay plan. President Weingarten is advocating merit pay for schools. Merit pay, which is now being called school based incentives, is bad for our schools. The latest NY Teacher makes a strong case against individual merit pay. The very same arguments  can be made for group or school wide merit pay.

President Weingarten in an e-mail to chapter leaders last year said, “Even if the Mayor offered a school-wide plan, which he did not, this is a substantial disincentive for teachers, particularly those in hardest-to-staff schools. In Fairfax, Virginia, one of the districts that dropped a plan like this did so in part because the majority of bonuses went to schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods.” Other factors often mentioned are subjective decisions made by principals, superintendents and chancellor and the divisiveness and animosity that arise within a school or group.

At the March 2000 Delegate Assembly, the leadership introduced an emergency resolution rejecting the Mayor’s call for individual merit pay for teachers. New Action co-chair Michael Shulman proposed an amendment taking out the word individual from the resolution. The amendment was accepted as friendly and the resolution passed the DA unanimously. Subsequently, President Weingarten back-tracked and stated she made a mistake accepting the amendment as a friendly one.

On June 19, 2000, New Action’s six High School Executive Board members presented the following resolution:

Resolved, that the UFT unequivocally opposes any merit pay schemes where any salary increase or bonus for a UFT member or group of UFT members is based on student performance, student attendance, administrator judgment, union judgment, peer review, parent review, student review or any other non-objective criteria; and be it further

Resolved, that the merit pay proposals  the UFT opposes include, but are not limited to: individual merit pay, group merit pay, school-wide merit pay district-wide merit pay and free airline ticket merit bonuses for staff  in a school.

New Action believes school-wide merit pay would create an unsound teaching and learning environment filled with enormous pressures and divisiveness.

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