Support Grows For Teacher Bonuses

A movement gaining momentum in Congress and some school systems in the Washington region and beyond would boost pay for exceptional teachers in high-poverty schools, a departure from salary schedules based on seniority and professional degrees that have kept pay in lockstep for decades.

Lawmakers are debating this month whether to authorize federal grants through a revision of the No Child Left Behind law for bonuses of as much as $12,500 a year for outstanding teachers in schools that serve low-income areas.

National teachers unions denounce the proposal for “performance pay,” saying it would undermine their ability to negotiate contracts and would be based in part on what they consider an unfair and unreliable measure: student test scores.

Debate over the proposal has exposed unusual fissures between the influential unions and longtime Democratic allies. Some education experts say the unions are out of step with parents and voters who support the business-oriented idea of providing financial incentives for excellent work.

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(The Washington Post 09.18.07)

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