State Superintendent visits Macon, has questions about merit pay idea

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Teacher merit pay is expected to be a hot topic this upcoming legislative session. State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Alexander II Magnet School in Macon Thursday to give the school its certificate for being named a National Blue Ribbon School last year. He also gave his thoughts on the idea of giving teachers money based on student achievement.

This is the second time in 10 years Alexander II has won this award. The last time was in 2006. Alexander II is one of seven schools public schools in Georgia to win the 2015 award. First Presbyterian day School won the Blue Ribbon award among private schools. 

Bibb Schools Superintendent Dr. Curtis Jones credits teachers as one of the reasons Alexander II received this award again. The State’s Education Reform Commission believes Georgia needs to make changes to recruit and keep top teachers. In a final recommendation given to Governor Nathan Deal in December, the board claims of new teachers hired in 2005, only 44 percent have remained in education for the required ten years to become vested in the Teacher Retirement System. The Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Compensation Subcommittee gave recommendations to the governor that suggest paying teachers based on how well their students perform. Both Dr. Jones and Woods have some questions about these ideas.

“I would like for you to pat the back of the person in front of you,” said Dr. Jones during his speech Thursday morning at Alexander II.

It was a way for students and staff at Alexander II to congratulate themselves on their National Blue Ribbon Award.

“In order to be a National Blue Ribbon School, I think two things are very key. One is culture and climate. The second part is having parents who are fully engaged in making the school work,” explained Dr. Jones. 

Woods visited the school Thursday to recognized its accomplishments and present the principal with a certificate. 

“It shows that we are really turning the tables here in Macon and that the school system is making a positive impact on education,” said Woods. 

Woods also gave his opinion on the possibility of legislation for teacher merit pay in the 2016 General Assembly. 

“Our school systems already have the ability to adjust teacher salaries or have a merit system. We’re looking at perhaps moving into a student based funding system as well, so, not seeing what all the details [are], all I can say right now is school system’s can already do that,” said Woods.

The ERC Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Compensation Subcommitee made 12 recommendations to the governor. The first is to develop guidance to assist districts in developing strategic compensation models for teachers. Committee members offered the following guidance principles as suggestions:

  • Provide the opportunity for teacher involvement in the creation of strategic compensation models at the district levels
  • Allow currently employed teachers to opt in to the new compensation systems or remain on current state salary schedule
  • Refrain from using degree level as a significant determinant of compensation increases. Instead, consider reimbursing teachers for the costs of pursuing advanced degrees
  • Provide additional pay and/or signing bonuses for high needs subjects and hard-to-staff schools
  • Provide additional pay for accepting additional responsibilities
  • Provide additional compensation for teachers who complete the requirements for Teacher Leader Certification
  • Provide opportunities for teachers to earn higher salaries earlier in their career

“I’m not convinced at this point that teachers are going to work any harder because you offer them more money. They’re working hard because they believe in the students that are sitting in front of them everyday. I think what teachers really would rather have is more pay because [they’re] working hard everyday. Give it to me because it’s what we deserve,” said Dr. Jones.

A number of teachers in Georgia don’t want to be paid based on their student’s test scores. A Facebook page called TRAGIC has more than 3,000 likes. The group is against merit pay. The Professional Association of Georgia Educators also opposes the idea. Representatives from PAGE said the governor plans to push some sort of merit pay effort through this legislative session. The Governor’s Office said as of now, the ERC’s recommendations are simply recommendations.


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Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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