Merit Pay Rocks Denver--but not NEA Convention
Finally some actual data is coming out on the impact of performance pay. According to a recent study by Denver Public Schools (not exactly an impartial source but at least a source), the Mile High city's 'ProComp' compensation plan gets the credit for attracting hundreds of new teachers to its "hard-to-staff" urban schools, including those hard-to-find math, science and special ed teachers. Denver is now getting nine applicants for every available teaching position, compared to only three applicants for every position just two years ago.
While some like Mathew Springer, director of the National Center on Performance at Vanderbilt University, caution that it is too early to celebrate, 1,800 of the city's 4,000 teachers are now enrolled in the pay plan--not obligatory for veteran teachers--since the inception of the program last year. Of the 1,800 ProComp participants, 550 are teachers new to Denver and 1,250 are veteran teachers that have opted in.
While ProComp's existence can be credited to the hard work of the local NEA affiliate, presidential hopeful Barack Obama's ever-so-brief mention of merit pay at the NEA conference two weeks ago was met with, shall we say, awkward silence. Take New Jersey Education Association President Joyce Powell's remarks: "I can't imagine if he were informed he would [have] come before 10,000 people and say what he said." More savvy presidential candidates also speaking at the event knew better--they studiously avoided the subject.