Over 200 of Boston’s best teachers won’t be getting bonuses this year, at least not if the Boston Teacher’s Union has anything to say about it. The Union is strongly opposing a performance bonus plan for the best teachers in a move that has education experts scratching their heads.
The program was launched by Exxon Mobil and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations in 2008 at the John D. O’Bryant School. It pays Advanced Placement teachers $100 bonuses for each student who passes the test. It also pays up to $3,000 a year for meeting other goals and after-school study sessions for Advanced Placement classes that count toward college credit.
The union feels the money should be divided up amongst all teachers – both good and bad. “There’s no one solely responsible for the development of these students. They should all share in the money,” said Union head Richard Stutman.
Jim Stergios, executive director of the nonpartisan Pioneer Institute sees it differently, “It’s insanity. They’re less concerned about promoting the interest of individual members than maintaining control over their members.”
School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson agrees, “(The union) is standing in the way off innovation. I think we have to realize we can’t do business as usual…. We have to be willing to make changes and give kids the opportunities they need,” she told the Boston Herald.
The program is just one of many ways Boston Public Schools is looking to boost its schools’ academic performance. And according to Morton Orlov, the president of the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative at MassINSIGHT, the schools that currently accept teacher bonuses have seen a 39% increase in students passing Advanced Placement exams.
Competition is what drives the world and these days, many educational systems are experimenting with it. Paying teachers based on performance and motivating them to work harder to see to it that children succeed seems like a great idea and countless studies have shown that it almost always works out for the positive. But the Unions aren’t concerned with children acquiring knowledge and passing tests so they can get into college, they’re only concerned with keeping themselves in power and pleasing their members. If there was ever any proof that Unions hurt business rather than help, this is it. It may not seem like such a big deal to many when it comes to the corporate world but seeing how they could possibly affect our children should be an eye-opener for parents.