Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association, may have gotten more than he bargained for when he commissioned a report from “21 accomplished teachers and educational leaders” on how to “craft a new vision of a teaching profession that is led by teachers and ensures teacher and teaching effectiveness.” The report itself, “Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning,” is remarkable: progressive and scholarly. The recommendations (there are many, so read it yourself) presents a great framework for elevating the teaching profession and rewarding great teachers with status and appropriate compensation.
A few highlights:
- The key to achieving a higher-functioning cadre of teachers for our nation’s schools is institutionalizing a balance between “collective accountability” and “collaborative autonomy.” There’s much emphasis on teams of great teachers working together to promote student learning, and doing so with appropriate authority.
- Tenure is a relic of an old model that no longer serves teachers or students. (It’s appropriately honored within a ode-like section called “Honoring the Single Salary Schedule”). Here’s what replaces it:
“In the system we envision, teachers collaborate with administrators to create a peer review program—a high-quality evaluation system in which teachers are deeply engaged in assessing and evaluating practice, developing professional learning plans, and contributing to personnel decisions. The need for tenure is replaced by a peer review program that provides opportunities for improvement or, when improvement is lacking, ensures due process throughout dismissal procedures. By guaranteeing teachers’ due process rights through a fair and transparent peer review system, continued employment is based on performance.”
- Higher salaries based on seniority and the system of LIFO (“last in, first out, or lay-offs determined by years served) must be phased out. Instead “seniority is used for decision-making only when all other factors are equal.”
- Teachers earn higher pay by “demonstrat[ing] effectiveness through an evidence-based peer evaluation system,” through “examination of teacher work products and student work, and student learning outcomes,” by willingness to “assume instructional leadership,” through willingness to “work in hard-to-staff schools or hard-to-staff positions,” or by working an extended schedule. In other words, our public school system must differentiate pay. Great teachers, regardless of years served, make more money. Physics teachers make more money than gym teachers. Teachers in poverty-stricken urban areas make more than teachers in cushy suburbs. vb From the report:
“We envision a tiered compensation system, bargained at the local level. The salary for each of the tiers represents a significant percentage increase over the previous tier. Except for cost-of-livingadjustments, pay increases are not automatic. Advancement in this compensation system is determined neither by time in service nor by graduate degrees.”