241 teachers - representing 5% of the teaching workforce - have been fired in the US District of Columbia for being 'ineffective'
The judgement was based on the test scores of students - a technique which has been strongly promoted by Obama's education chief Arne Duncan. Those districts which use such methods will be first in the queue for extra so-called 'Race for the Top' funding. (see previous posts). Columbia education boss Michelle Rhee has been one of the most agressive initiaters of these methods - not only firing teachers for their students' low test scores but redistributing teachers' pay so that those who meet certain targets including students' test scores can earn a bonus of $20 -30,000.
The Washington Teachers Union (WTU) is fighting the dismissals and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) told the New York Times:
“Evaluations should include a component of student learning, of course, but there also has to be teacher development and support.It can’t just be a ‘gotcha’ system, like the one in D.C.”
Performance related pay systems are a central part of the neo-liberal agenda to consolidate business style methods in education, to weaken the power of teaching unions to collectively bargain on behalf of their members and to impose a rigid discipline on teachers to 'teach to the test' and stifle creativity in the classroom. In the UK, 'Payment by Results' was the system in the nineteenth century which was successfully defeated by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in its early years. Subsequent attempts to re-introduce it as part of the present neo-liberal agenda have been only partially successful.
Teacher solidarity would like to hear from any teachers who are involved in a struggle against such systems at the present time. Either post a comment or contact firstname.lastname@example.org