by Paul Kersey
Director of Labor Policy
Just how far is a union willing to go to avoid
accountability for results?
As a teacher strike in the Evergreen Park School District
(#124) passed its fourth day, there is little indication that the two sides
have managed to make much progress in reaching a contract.
Among the issues that separate the two sides is a bonus
program that the school board would like to carry over from last year. The Evergreen Park Federation of
Teachers would apparently rather go without it.
The bonus is based on the district-wide score on the MAP
is a computerized program that measures a student’s progress, and is unique in
that the software adjusts the difficulty of the questions to the student’s
apparent ability – get more questions wrong and the questions get easier, get
more right and the questions become harder. MAP also projects how far an individual
student should progress over a year based on past performance.
The district had a program that checked how many students
reached that cutoff, and if enough students succeeded district wide, all
teachers and staff got a modest bonus, three-quarters of a percent of base pay
for reading, one-quarter of a percent for math. For a teacher earning $60,000 a year the bonus could add
$600 to his or her income. Support staff received a little extra pay as well. (See item 3 from the board’s most recent
Unions have typically resisted merit pay awards, but this is
one that even a militant union should be able to live with: it’s district wide
so there’s no jealousy between those who get the bonus and those who don’t, and
there’s no chance of favoritism.
The bonus promoted teamwork (or “Solidarity”, if you prefer) among
staff, who rise and fall together.
Teachers in Evergreen Park were not exempt from new state
rules governing teacher evaluations anyway; teachers will be rated and that
rating will be affected by student performance. But the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers is so
resistant to merit pay that even if there’s no distinction between above
average and below average teachers they want no part of it. At no point is this union interested in
accepting responsibility for results.
image credit: José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / October 2, 2012