|8-15-14 Education Issues in the News|
NJ Spotlight - New Pact in Paterson Gives Teachers Extra Pay Tied to Their Performance…Contract includes salary ‘steps’ tied to school district’s evaluation system
Star Ledger - Newark teachers, parents and students file lawsuit to stop school reorganization... A coalition of Newark parents, teachers and students has filed a civil rights complaint with the state Department of Education to stop the city’s school reorganization plan from going into effect next month
NJ Spotlight - Principals, Administrators of Camden Schools Get Ready for a Pivotal Year…Leadership workshops foster broader vision as state has its own people in key posts for first time since taking over troubled district
NJ Spotlight - New Pact in Paterson Gives Teachers Extra Pay Tied to Their Performance
John Mooney | August 15, 2014
Contract includes salary ‘steps’ tied to school district’s evaluation system
In a deal that finally breaks a four-year stalemate, a new contract for teachers in the state-run Paterson schools includes a version of pay-for-performance that will be a first for New Jersey.
The salary guide for all new teachers and included in the three-year contract made final last month will include an extra annual “step,” or pay increment, that can be earned by teachers rated “highly effective” under the district’s evaluation system. The steps are typically tied only to an additional year of service.
Teachers rated “effective” will get a single step, and “highly effective” a second step. Teachers rated either “partially effective” or “ineffective” will get no raise at all. Veteran teachers will have the option of joining the new guide or staying with a traditional guide without the incentives.
“Obviously, pay for performance is on everyone’s agenda these days, including ours’,” said Donnie Evans, the district’s state-appointed superintendent. “After a lot of input, we felt doing it in the guide facilitated that better.”
“We wanted to reward teachers by performance, rather than seat time,” he said in an interview.
The settlement is the second such performance pay negotiated by the Christie administration in its state-run districts, with Newark being the first. But in Newark, the contract that runs through this coming school year provides one-time bonuses for “highly effective,” instead of the salary guide bumps.
That was more amenable to the Paterson Education Association (PEA), the teachers union, as the sides tried to break an impasse that had seen talks drag on four years, Evans said it was largely stalled over the performance-linked pay, and what he said was a “disagreement in philosophy.”
The settlement this spring and tightly contested membership vote this summer were actually over two contracts -- one covering the previous four years, with $19 million in retroactive pay, and the new one for the next three years.
The New Jersey Education Association, the statewide union which counts Paterson among its largest locals, had opposed the Newark contract as a form of merit pay, which is anathema to the union.
Newark teachers are represented by the Newark Teachers Union, part of the separate American Federation of Teachers and unaffiliated with the NJEA.
While acknowledging the Paterson deal also can be viewed as merit pay, a NJEA spokesman said retaining the salary guide was important.
“We resisted the Newark approach because PEA wanted to preserve the integrity of the salary guide,” said Steve Baker, the spokesman. “All teachers, even those rated highly effective, would be paid according to a clear, transparent guide ultimately based on years of experience, not merit."
“So, while it is not necessarily a typical (contract), it helped preserve, rather than replace, the salary guide approach,” he said.
Efforts to contact Pete Tirri, the PEA president, were unsuccessful. Baker of the NJEA said Tirri was not granting interviews on the topic.
State officials were at the table with the district’s negotiators, including assistant state education commissioner Peter Shulman and special assistant Photeine Anagnostopoulos.
Shulman relayed the administration’s final approval of the contract on July 21 in a note to Tirri.
“Thank you and your team for their patience and perseverance throughout the negotiation process,” Shulman wrote.
Under the new contract, the guide will not be required for current teachers, who can opt to stay on a more traditional guide. All newly hired teachers will be put on the new guide. Teachers are currently making those decisions in a 30-day sign-up period, which will be binding for the life of the contract.
How much the extra step will earn individual teachers is still being determined, as the sides negotiate the intricacies of both the new and traditional guides, according to Evans.
In typical salary guides, the differences between steps vary widely, but can go as high as $10,000 or more in so-called “balloon steps.”
Evans did not have a breakdown of how many teachers this could effect, with evaluations still being finalized for the district’s 2,600 teachers. But he said about 10 percent so far had been found to be “ineffective” or “partially effective,” which would exclude them from a raise this year under the new guide.
The new guide also excludes an extra pay adjustment for gaining an advanced degree once on the job, a long-time staple of salary guides. A teacher’s existing degrees will be considered only in deciding where they are initially placed on the guide, Evans said.
“We think that the experience and the additional coursework is important and a plus,” he said. “But once they are on the guide, they’re on it and any movement will be based on performance.”
The contract also includes provisions for additional pay of up to $1,500 for hard-to-fill positions or for teachers working in designated “turnaround schools” that are the district’s lowest performing.
Star Ledger - Newark teachers, parents and students file lawsuit to stop school reorganization
NEWARK — A coalition of Newark parents, teachers and students has filed a civil rights complaint with the state Department of Education to stop the city’s school reorganization plan from going into effect next month.
An attorney, Robert Pickett, filed the complaint on behalf of 24 people who who the One Newark plan is “defacto racial segregation” that violates the state’s constitution.
The complaint also contends the plan violates the state’s charter school law because it gives three schools to charter school operators without the required support of the schools’ students, teachers and parents.
“We expect an administrative law just to hear the matter in the next few days and that Petitioners’ points of law shall prevail,” Pickett said in a statement.
The group plans to hold a press conference next Monday at the Bragaw Avenue School, one of the three neighborhood elementary schools set to become charter schools as part of the controversial One Newark plan. TEAM Academy is set to open there next month.
The lawsuit comes weeks after a federal civil rights complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education. That complaint also seeks a halt to the reorganization plan, which will affect one-quarter of the city’s schools. Federal officials earlier this month confirmed an investigation had been launched.
NJ Spotlight - Principals, Administrators of Camden Schools Get Ready for a Pivotal Year
John Mooney | August 14, 2014
Leadership workshops foster broader vision as state has its own people in key posts for first time since taking over troubled district
Amid all the debate over state control and the big expansion of charter schools, Camden schools administrators were busy doing their homework this week.
They were putting in long hours in professional-development training for the new school year, as the new state-led administration sought to put its imprint on the one area it can affect most. Taking part were school principals, as well as new “educational leaders,” a coaching position now in place for every one of the district’s 26 schools.
This year, the school administration under state-appointed Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard will for the first time have its own people in leadership roles, including new principals in close to a dozen schools. All but one of the new principals came from within the district, Rouhanifard said.
“Great schools begin with great school leaders,” he said yesterday. “It’s about making sure they are equipped with the skills to be able to set vision and direction for their leadership team.”
The training sessions, held at the H.B. Wilson School, have been intensive school leadership workshops in which the principals and other administrators are versed on every thing from setting school values to the intricacies of overseeing teacher evaluations.
For example, participants spent two hours yesterday afternoon laying out the leadership values for their individual schools. Such soul-searching is not unusual for corporate retreats, but Rouhanifard said he hoped it would provide some benefit in Camden schools, too.
He said that while there are plenty of specific tasks required of school principals, he hoped the workshops would help them at the broader picture.
‘These two weeks are very much about moving away from the compliance-oriented tasks we ask of principals,” Rouhanifard said.
The experience was not lost on the Camden school administrators, some of whom noted the difference compared to their experiences in the district over the last decade or two.
“We used to get binders and binders of things we had to do, and now it’s hands-on activities,” said Maricarmen Macrina, the new principal of the Dudley Elementary School and a 25-year veteran of the district. “It’s probably the best (training) I have had in 25 years.”
“Why didn’t we have this before?” she asked. ‘It is so basic.”
And while the new principal said she recognized there is plenty of controversy and debate over the state’s takeover of Camden’s school, she suggested that it might be a necessary prod to action.
“We had to be pushed,” Macrina said. “We talked a lot about change, but until this happened, we weren’t forced.”
Garden State Coalition of Schools