NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 26, 2006

All those years of arguing that Texas should devote more money to education and teacher pay, and now -- among other steps -- the state has offered Bellaire Elementary School in Hurst $90,000 to divide among themselves.  They turned it down.  Big mistake, says the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Bellaire's teachers rejected the money, meant to be used as salary bonuses linked to demonstrated student achievement, by a 44-2 vote at an Aug. 28 faculty meeting.  The Texas Education Agency had offered the extra pay as part of an educator excellence awards program approved by the Legislature during its special session last spring.

Some teacher groups lobbied extensively against the incentive pay program, wanting instead across-the-board pay raises for teachers, not pay-for-performance programs.  The Legislature gave them both.

  • The initial educator excellence awards -- $100 million worth -- are going to schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students.
  • Bellaire Elementary and 1,160 other schools were selected to receive grants, if they submit a plan for how to distribute the bonus pay.
  • Now the incentive money is on the table, and Bellaire teachers declined to pick it up.
  • Only 56 other schools rejected the money.

They have their reasons.  In comments written on their ballots and recorded by Hurst-Euless-Bedford district administrators, many of the Bellaire teachers said that they feared that the process of deciding who gets what bonuses would harm the team atmosphere that they've worked hard to build at their school.

That's an admirable sentiment.  As a reason to reject the $90,000, it doesn't fly.  The program criteria allow the money to be distributed based on team achievements, says the Star-Telegram.

Source: Editorial, "Dumping the dollars," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 26, 2006.


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