Back in June the contract signed between the Washington D.C. school district and its teachers was hailed as revolutionary: in exchange for guaranteed higher salaries teachers agreed to sacrifice the traditional seniority protections in favor of personnel decision based on results in the classroom. The tradeoffs that teachers made were felt in tough fashion on Friday when the D.C. school district fired 241 teachers who received poor performance appraisals. Part of the teachers’ contract provided for a performance pay system with bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000 annually for teachers who meet certain benchmarks; the flip side of that was the possibility of termination for failing to meet standards, hence the firings on Friday. This is the kind of school reform that has been embraced by both the Bush & Obama Administrations and other analysts, but teachers remain understandably wary—is this the wave of the future for America’s teachers & schools?
Bonnie Reiss, California Secretary of Education & Regent of the University of California
Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers