Bulletin: Teacher Union Head Agrees to Performance Pay

Bulletin: Teacher Union Head Agrees to Performance Pay

In a stunning bit of news, it is reported that John Tarka, head of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, agreed in principle to the concept of performance pay for teachers in order to help the school district secure a $40 million grant from the Gates Foundation.

Anyone familiar with the long and strident objection by teacher unions to merit or performance pay has to be surprised by this apparent breakthrough. But before we regard this step as an indication of the softening of teacher union resistance to an idea that should have been the norm for decades, bear in mind that the teachers in the union still have to approve the "performance pay" plan. And, as is commonly said in these situations, the proof is in the pudding. Will teachers in fact approve a meaningful performance based pay system?

More likely they will approve a system that provides equal bonuses for all teachers or some equivalent measure of performance that does not differentiate actual performances. Further, even if a meaningful system is put in place, the likelihood of its being implemented as designed is remote.

The question is, "Will the grantor accept such a turn of events and continue to remit annual installments of the six and half year grant?" A true test of their own philosophy will be on the line.