Jersey Jazzman describes here the Newark teachers contract, which was just ratified.
The central feature of the contract is merit pay. This particular gimmick is a fixation of billionaire Eli Broad, who calls the shots in the Garden State through Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf and Newark’s Superintendent Cami Anderson, both of whom were “trained” to think the Broad Way in the uncertified Broad Superintendents Academy.
Cerf has probably forgotten the New York City bonus plan that failed when he was Deputy Chancellor; the city blew away $50 million on it before the RAND corporation declared it a failure.
Anderson believes in bonuses. In addition to her salary of $247,500, she stands to get a bonus of another $50,000 if the district meets certain performance targets.
As the nation faces a so-called fiscal cliff, how can Newark afford bonuses? The plan is being financed by Mark Zuckerberg’s gift of $100 million.
Why not try merit pay one more time? Who cares that it has been tried repeatedly for decades and never worked? Just in recent years, it failed in Nashville, it failed in New York City, it failed in Chicago. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Ditto for the 100th time.
“Success” would be a kind of failure, too, though I know of no examples of success. Success would mean more teaching to the test, more narrowing of the curriculum to what is tested, more focus on tests as the goal of schooling rather than as a diagnostic measure.
So Newark will do education the Broad Way, which has seen no success anywhere it’s been tried.
The Broad Way means a fervent belief in carrots and sticks as tools of control by management. It means management by numbers and targets and return in investment. It is the ethos of billionaires and management consultants.
It is totally inappropriate for professionals. Professionals always do their best. If they don’t, they should not be hired or they should be fired.
I’m on an airplane about to take off. Should I offer the pilot a bonus to get me to Chicago safely? That’s his job.
What happens when the Zuckerberg money is exhausted? Will Eli Broad promise to keep it going?