What Happens in Tulsa, Stays in Tulsa

The Tulsa Public Schools is looking for more than $70 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropies to fund a teacher performance pay initiative. Details are in this morning’s Tulsa World, the most intriguing of which is there will be no salary increases for advanced degrees or additional certifications.

The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, the local NEA affiliate, signed on to the plan, notifying members on its web site:

“This is a period of great change in education and TCTA wants teachers to be part of the process. One of the major initiatives being discussed is changing the teacher evaluation tool so financial incentives can be tied to teacher performance. NEA, OEA, and TCTA have historically opposed any proposal of this kind, but the pressure to do so is coming from the White House, the Department of Education, and both major political parties. We feel it would be naïve and unwise to ignore political realities so we want to be part of the team driving the train, rather than being tied to the tracks and getting run over by the train. Rest assured that we are a presence on every committee and we are doing everything in our power to safeguard teacher rights while working with the district rather than against them. We will achieve much greater success by working collaboratively than by throwing up roadblocks to the forces of change.”

This may sound encouraging, until you check out the new detail, posted on the TCTA web site this morning:

“The article in this morning’s Tulsa World on performance pay left out an essential component: teachers will have the option of staying on the current salary schedule or of choosing to opt in to the incentive plan.”

Why do teachers only get a choice of plan after performance pay is instituted? They didn’t get to “opt in” to the traditional salary schedule.

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