On Friday, the Department of Education announced that Virginia’s novel teacher merit-pay plan for 2011-2012 will not have many participants. In fact, close to 6 percent of the 169 eligible schools applied for the $3 million in Virginia performance-pay funding (10 schools in all).
Among those who applied by the June 15 deadline for the merit-pay plan are in Accomack, Caroline, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Greensville, Patrick Count, and the city of Roanoke.
Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle commented Friday that a committee will review each of the schools’ applications next week to pick recipients for the grants.
The merit-pay plan would award bonuses of up to $5,000 for educators employed in “hard-to-staff” schools.
Although Gov. McDonnell fought for the plan, critics have pointed out that the teacher performance evaluations may be difficult to fairly administer due to the difficulty of correlating a student’s in-school success directly to individual teachers.
If you don’t understand why so many schools in Virginia didn’t take up the federal government’s merit-pay plan, then you’re probably not alone.
Part of the reason is no doubt a fear on the part of many schools of taking from the hand that feeds (i.e. the Department of Education), but only on certain specific conditions. That is, schools probably do not want to lose power over how they go about their business at their respective schools.
If nothing else, introducing novel methods into any established institution is almost inevitably an uphill battle.
But Virginia’s schools need to improve, and improve quick.
Virginia’s relatively successful economy is based upon the talented work force that it possesses and unless Virginia wants to start importing its talent, it’s going to have to ensure that children in Virginia receive an adequate education, regardless of who they are.