Friday, December 19, 2008

My Speech to the DISD Board, Dec. 18, 2008

Trustees I am here this evening to speak to you about keeping promises. A little over a year ago, you the Board, over our objections, voted to approve doing the Pay for Performance portion of the Teacher Incentive Fund grant. By doing so, you promised teachers that if they had a high enough CEI or SEI, which we maintain is still invalid and shouldn’t be used; had a 95% percent attendance rate; and, signed on for two observations would be eligible to receive money this December.

It is now December and time for those teachers who “did the dance” to be paid. However, many of them will not get what was promised to them by you because their campus administrators failed to do the second observation. Thus, tonight, I must ask you to keep your promise and approve Ms. Olson’s request for money from the General Operating budget to pay these teachers. However, with a little caveat: That if any cuts are needed to fund this money, it comes from the Administration’s portion of the General Operating Budget.

The teachers in question did everything you requested of them. Please do not punish them for the shortcomings of their campus administrators. Those responsible for this are the ones who should be held accountable and you should make sure of it.

With that said, let me be perfectly clear. NEA-Dallas will continue to oppose any “Pay for Performance” plans until our teachers have concrete, protected salary schedules that cannot be amended or waived each year as you and the Administration see fit. We will continue to oppose the use of the Classroom Effectiveness Index (CEI) and School Effectiveness Index (SEI) in any fashion as we feel these measures are invalid.

And, NEA-Dallas will continue to urge you to keep your promises to our employees whether we philosophically agree with them or not.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Incentive Pay, DISD and the Alliance-AFT

With all the mess going on at 3700 Ross over the Performance Pay portion of the TIF grant, it's hard to believe that the DISD is set to roll this thing out district-wide next month. This year's fiasco is just the "pilot" of this program for 59 schools.

At the same time, the DISD is rolling out the D.A.T.E. grant program. This incentive pay scheme is the brainchild of the state of Texas. It's just now making it to the campuses even though the Governor presented Dr. Hinojosa with a huge check at Cowart Elementary school several months ago.

The D.A.T.E. is based on the same principal as the Pay for Performance of the TIF. The CEI! This time, however, the Administration is trying to provide some incentive money for teachers who do not have a CEI of their own. Those are the "elective" teachers in our schools. The way they plan to do this is to "team up" non-CEI teachers with CEI teachers. The two of them then have to develop a plan, and a way to evaluate that plan, where the non-CEI teacher supports what the CEI teacher is teaching in their class. Once that is done, the awards then depend upon the CEI receiving teacher's CEI and progress on test scores! Again, our children are nothing more than test scores and NEA-Dallas feels that they are much more!

Each school that participates must conduct a vote of its faculty. Seems that during several of these votes in the last week, the campus administrators have called upon the representatives of Alliance-AFT to get up and say why the teachers should vote in FAVOR of doing the D.A.T.E. grant. In schools where there is a known NEA-Dallas representative, that representative has been ignored and in one instance, deliberately not called upon.

Now why do you think that would happen? Could it be that the campus administrators know that NEA-Dallas is opposed to this "performance pay" scheme? Could it be that the campus administrators know that NEA-Dallas is opposed to the use of the CEI for ANY reason and we believe that our students are "more than just a score"? Or, could it be that Alliance-AFT has become so "cozy" with the administration of the DISD that they are seen as "one of the family"? You decide...

Either way, NEA-Dallas will continue to oppose the Performance Pay portion of the TIF program, the D.A.T.E. and any other "incentive pay" program until all of our employees have concrete, contracted salary schedules. Salary schedules that can not be amended or waived by the Administration and the Board of Trustees on a yearly basis!

Will this stance win us brownie points with the Administration? No. With most of the members of the DISD Board? No. With even some of our members? No. This stance is not one that is politically popular, but is one that is necessary. One that is necessary for our children because they are much more than just a test score!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DISD Must Keep Its Promises!

A little over a year ago the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees approved doing the Teacher Incentive Fund program. This program is funded through a grant from the U. S. Department of Education to the tune of $22 million over five years. It's designed to pay teachers who's students show academic improvement.

NEA-Dallas has, and will continue to, oppose this program for two very good reasons: 1) Employees do not have a rock-solid base salary schedule that is contracted and mandated to be met by the Board of Trustees each year; and, 2) The instruments used to determine this incentive pay, the Classroom Effectiveness Index (CEI) and School Effectiveness Index (SEI), in our opinion, are invalid. I will give you one of many examples on how we believe this to be so.

Ninth (9th) Grade Science teachers have their CEI's calculated by using their students' Eighth (8th) Grade Reading Scores. Since the there is no science test in 8th grade, the district uses the reading score for the baseline. You can not compare reading scores to science scores and be accurate. That's like comparing oranges to corn. It just does not compute. But, that's what the district is doing.

Now it has come time for these teachers who participated in the program to be paid. Many have been paid from the Federal Grant money, but over one hundred (100) others are unable to be paid from the grant. Why? Because their administrator did not do their second observation as required by the law that legislated the grant.

As a result, the DISD Administration now has to go before the Board and ask them to approve $450,000 from the General Operating budget to pay these teachers tomorrow night. These teachers have met the criterion that they have control over to earn this award.

This is about keeping promises, not philosophical differences. The Board promised these teachers the money last year when they approved this program over our objections. Now, because administration has fallen down on the job, again, the Board must step in and make sure it happens. Therefore, I will be asking the Trustees to support paying these teachers from the General Operating budget.

I will, however, urge the Trustees to require that this money be cut from the Administration's budget and that wording actually be put it in the motion. If they don't, then the Administration can get the money from where ever they want to.

I am also cautioning the Trustees that this may not be the last time that the Administration comes before them asking for money for this. The reason being is that this amount only covers the teachers who filed an appeal with the TIF Appeals Committee. If this is approved, then the teachers who did not appeal, may come back and file grievances against the district to get their share as well. I believe that total amount will be closer to $1 million rather than what is being requested tomorrow night.