After all the fanfare last winter over Denver teachers? acceptance of a pay-for-performance package, it turns out that the school system is only now settling stalled negotiations over the teachers? basic contract. Last week parties on both sides worked through a significant budget crunch to accept a contract that will offer only minimal cost-of-living raises and typical stair-step increases for experience while protecting the much lauded "ProComp" program.
Thought it sounds like a farm product, ProComp is actually an innovative pay initiative that offers bonuses to teachers who set and reach measurable student achievement objectives and work in underperforming schools. The fact that ProComp survived contract negotiations during a tough budget cycle isn?t surprising since teachers voted on districtwide adoption of the program just last winter, and no one--just yet anyway--wants to axe a program that has achieved such national acclaim (and that keep us ed wonks buzzing). No, if history serves as an accurate predictor, the more likely pattern will be that the axe will fall a few years down the line, when Denver's teacher pay package is no longer a hot news story. Too cynical on our part? Just talk to one of the many teachers who lost their National Board bonus pay this year because states can no longer afford to foot the bill.