Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why the Merit Award Program Does Not Work

Duval County School Board Chairman W.C. Gentry recently took part in a protest against Gov. Rick Scott's education cuts. The Florida legislature is writing legislation attacking teacher tenure. Republicans will tell you that that tenure is destroying education. The truth is teachers unions give to Democrats. Republicans want to destroy part of the Democratic Party base.

GROVER NORQUIST: "We plan to pick up another five seats in the Senate and hold the House through redistricting through 2012," he says. "And rather than negotiate with the teachers' unions and the trial lawyers and the various leftist interest groups, we intend to break them."

A recent Education Resource Strategies study proved that inexperienced teachers, not tenure, is what is hurting Duval County schools.

The Duval County School Board reacted to a report Tuesday that students in Duval County's lowest-performing elementary schools were two times more likely to have novice teachers and 3.5 times less likely to have teachers who receive incentive pay.

Those were among the findings from Education Resource Strategies, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit hired by the school system to look at how it uses its resources and comparing that with other large urban districts.

Board Chairman W.C. Gentry called the report "tremendously helpful" and said it's "startling and totally unacceptable" that there are so many novice teachers in low-performing schools.

The lowest performing schools are less likely to have teachers receiving Merit Award Plan bonuses. Getting rid of tenure isn't going to excite the next generation of college students to go into education. Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady notes that lowest performing schools are more likely to have children who do not speak English or in special education programs. Merit Award Plan bonuses are more likely to be awarded to schools from better income neighborhoods.

The Merit Award Program is the updated version of the failed STAR plan.

The Merit Award Program allows students to take state, national or locally developed tests besides the FCAT, and those test results will account for "no less than 60 percent" of an educator's assessment.

The Merit Award Program is better but still not the answer

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