Monday, July 11, 2011

Performance Pay

The following is from Dixie Allen, Vice Chair of the Utah State Board of Education followed by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh's response.

To my friends who serve education,

I wanted to share with you a deep concern I have, which I hope collectively we might solve.

The newspaper bylines noting the concerns of Utah teachers about the precedent that is being set by the Ogden School District only underlines the extra concern that should be felt by not only educators, but all who have a vested interest in a quality education for our state and nation.  Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President, has stated, "this move is a symptom of a national controversy" which I believe effectively takes teachers/educators completely out of the process to insure quality education. 

During the past decades, under a Federal reform effort proclaiming "No Child Left Behind", teachers have become the "heavy" in a race to insure that every child can read and do math at the state standard grade level, while throwing out that which has made America the leader in innovation and leadership for well over a century.  That being the process of providing opportunities for everyone to find their talent and build upon that talent for the individual, community and national success.

Teacher/Educators, before Socrates, have provided the mentor-ship to enhance and build on the talents, prior knowledge, and dedication of students as they strive to increase their ability to become life long learners.  Teachers come from many different roles in a child's life, but when as a community we entrust that role to those who choose to be the teacher/mentor of many as a vocation, one would believe that we should entrust them with the latitude and respect to determine not only the methods for educating each individual child, but also the outcomes as defined by the partnership they develop with the student and the parents. 

As we continue to move even farther away from entrusting teachers to control the educational environment and entrust the determination for quality education to the political process, I fear we chance to loose all we have gained and what other nations are now finding so important as they try to compete with this nation.  Look at the common denominators of the quality education programs around the world and you will find that first and foremost is the respect and honor of teachers.  They are rewarded with equitable salaries, esteem befitting the highest careers of their nation and support not only in the classroom, but continued support from parents and the community, as they collectively work to educate their most valued treasure -- their children.

Where have we lost this very valuable understanding and belief in a time honored profession?  I hope we soon refocus on the quality education by supporting quality educators with respect, salaries and trust.

Dixie Allen, Vice Chair
State Board of Education

My Dear Dixie,

Thank you on behalf of all of the teachers in Utah and this nation. Your advocacy and support goes beyond any other leader I have known. You exemplify the courageous leadership needed so desperately in public education.

I suppose the piece that is most concerning for us is that the Ogden Board of Education never mentioned performance pay to the teachers-not in 2009, 2010 or 2011. It is difficult to be against something when you have no knowledge that it is even “on the table.” Now, OEA and the teachers are being vilified as the obstacle to this idea. How can we collectively allow this to go unchallenged? UEA and its locals have collaborated on many alternative compensation models in our state. We have never taken a position of opposition but rather advocated for being partners in the design of any type of alternative compensation model. The Ogden Board notified teachers of their intent to implement “performance pay” in the letter sent to them on July 4th.  Even the Board has no idea as to its parameters!

In addition, Utah Supreme Court Judge Zimmerman was the fact finder in this case. The Board ignored his findings of fact. What happened to good faith negotiating? What happened to collaboration? When did teachers become the enemy?

As we have seen this past legislative session, when we collaborate on issues affecting us all, we can win. UEA stood behind the School Boards when the legislature wanted to eliminate state and local boards and give control to the Governor. We stood by our USOE and our local school boards when they were being maligned by those in our legislature. UEA needs you all now. Your dedicated teacher need you now. We must stand together in our belief that collaboration is the only way to improve our schools for our precious children.

Dixie, the words “thank you” are simply not enough. I hope through your example others will be courageous and stand up together for what is right!

With deepest admiration and respect,


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