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Legislative - Action Alert - April 26, 2010 (Merit Pay)
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Legislative Action Alert!

End Run on Merit Pay?

Posted April 26, 2010 1:15pm

We have been encouraging our members to contact their legislators to make sure that we don’t start down the merit pay road at this time via this legislation – or any late night shenanigans Thursday evening! Thanks if you have already done so. In responding to our members, some legislators have taken a “Who? Us?” pose. Apparently, some legislators are trying to glibly argue that they’ve fixed the problem with SB 521 by taking out the portion of the bill that would mandate that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be determined by measurable student achievement. And legislators are correct—SB 521 does not mention merit pay in those exact words.

However, what we believe legislators are being disingenuous about is that the portion of SB 521 which was added by the Governor’s office last week mandates that the State Board of Ed (which is appointed by the Governor) and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement create a statewide evaluation instrument. The Governor’s office has clearly outlined his intentions regarding merit pay in the form of SB 386 (the Gov’s merit pay bill that failed) and in Georgia’s Race to the Top (RT3) Application.  The RT3 Application states that if SB 386 were to fail, then the Governor’s office intends on initiating merit pay through State Board of Ed rule changes.

SB 521, with its mandate that the State Board create an evaluation instrument, perfectly complements the merit-pay framework that the Governor’s office is attempting to set up. Our problem right now with the merit pay concept is that the Governor’s Office has been adamant in its attempts to – in the waning days of this administration – steam roll it by without educator input, without a functioning Student Information System, and without the proper metrics in place to accurately gauge student and teacher achievement. 

While the governor is probably pushing the legislature while our application for federal funds is still being considered in Washington D.C. in round two, the lack of financial commitment to K-12 education over the past eight years, which saw $2 billion in “austerity cuts” and the failure to revise the 1985 era funding formula, coupled with the ongoing saga of an ineffective student information system may not be lost on the federal officials who turned down our RT3 application last month and they may do so again in June.

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