The Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, has an editorial out where he asserts:
Put simply, more pay attracts and retains more talented teachers in the profession, and having the best teachers possible is the most important thing we can do to help kids learn.
A desire to attract more talented teachers concedes the obvious point that some teachers are better than others.
Of course, offering higher pay to all teachers regardless of talent or student outcomes would not the anything to help kids and their parents (i.e. the real clients of the school system).
Therefore, ffers of higher pay to teachers deemed "better" according to some criteria must be coupled with a credible promise to fire "bad" teachers.
Schools which charged parents tuition and paid for teachers out of their tuition revenues would be able to figure this out very easily.
But, in New Jersey, where there is a system of distributing property tax revenues from rich districts to poor districts, where a school district's ability to pay teachers has no relation whatsoever to what their clients are willing to spend, such basic incentive mechanisms are easily missed.
Now, I have very little direct interest in the Newark school system. It is a city with so much promise owing to its location and consequent access to world's financial, technical, and fashion centers.
That promise remains unfulfilled due to crime and lack of human capital.
Having looked at the various documents posted on the Newark Teacher's Union web site, all I can see are retroactive pay increases, a transition bonus, teaching bonuses, retirement bonuses etc etc.
The only "penalty" for "bad" teachers seems to be:
A new “pay for performance” system that lets you earn substantial bonuses.
The "pay for performance" system is aligned with the new state law and is very simple. The "pay for performance" paradigm essentially grants a step based on an "effective" or "highly effective" annual evaluation and freezes the step for a less‐than‐satisfactory evaluation. Teachers rated "partially effective" or "ineffective" will be able to move to the next step when their rating improves. (emphasis mine)
This is spelled out in more detail in the contract:
4. NPS shall implement a new educator evaluation system with four summative rating categories beginning in school year 2012-2013. (For additional details see "Teacher Coaching and Evaluation.") There shall be movement on the steps and remuneration on the scale only by effective professional performance and valued experience.
Only educators who receive effective or highly effective annual summative evaluation ratings will be entitled to move up one step on the salary scale.
Educators who receive an ineffective annual summative evaluation rating will stay on their current salary step. These educators may request a Peer Validator.
Educators who receive a partially effective annual summative evaluation rating may remain on their current salary step. The decision about whether or not these educators will remain on their step is at the sole discretion of the Superintendent who will consult with Peer Validators (see Section X of the MOA).
Educators who receive a partially effective annual summative evaluation rating and are rated effective or highly effective in the following year’s annual summative evaluation rating shall be entitled to a one-time stipend worth 50% of the difference between their new step and their old step as an incentive for improvement.
The specific intent of the parties is to create a new compensation system where increments and raises are earned through effective performance. The parties agree to utilize peer validators and the peer oversight committee to consult with the Superintendent and make recommendations on disputes concerning the new compensation system to avoid expenditures of public funds. The final decision rests with the Superintendent. The process set forth in this section shall be the full process and is binding.
So, there is a scale of effectiveness.
If you place in the bottom of that scale, you don't lose anything.
You just don't get the automatic pay raise.
Except, you might.
Some think it is revolutionary that a teachers' union might agree to a contract that does not entail automatic pay increases and bonuses for all teachers regardless of performance.
Methinks we're defining down revolutionary.
It would indeed be revolutionary to reduce the district's expenses on schools to just the maintenance of buildings and facilities, tell schools they must charge a tuition, and pay teachers out of their revenues, and take all the money the district would be paying the teachers, and split it equally among all school age children of Newark, so they can pay the schools what they think the schools are actually worth.
The district spends $20,000 per pupil per year. It spends roughly $300,000 per teacher per year to keep about 2,700 teachers employed at an average salary of $67,000.
I fail to see how a completely privatized system would not result in better teacher compensation, lower per pupil costs, and better outcomes.