Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Committee Begins Exploration of Merit Pay for K-12 Teachers

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Committee Begins Exploration of Merit Pay for K-12 Teachers

Article excerpt

Gov. Sam Brownback's policy director on Tuesday urged lawmakers to implement a merit-pay system for K-12 educators but didn't outline a specific plan during a legislative hearing that attracted opposition to the idea from representatives of three education organizations.

The governor raised the prospect of introducing a statewide compensation program based on classroom performance that goes beyond initiatives approved by local school boards to reflect education level and years of service. Some Kansas districts provide a bump of $1,000 or more for teachers who attain national board certification.

"Attracting and keeping high-quality teachers remains a high priority," said Brandon Smith, the governor's policy director. "By structuring teacher compensation to reward high-quality teachers, our schools can do just that."

He told the House Education Committee the governor hadn't formulated a strategy for putting in motion a merit approach that was referenced last week in the State of the State speech to the 2016 Legislature.

"Our office doesn't have a specific recommendation," Smith said.

Private industry in the United States has relied upon merit pay to improve competitiveness among international rivals, he said.

Rep. Jerry Lunn, R-Overland Park, was among education committee members enthusiastic about the prospect of implementing a structure financially recognizing the most effective teachers.

"I want to attract, retain and reward the best teachers. I want to differentiate pay," he said.

Representatives of the Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas-National Education Association and Kansas Families for Education shared with the committee their reservations about any state law on merit pay for public education teachers.

Mark Tallman, associate executive director for advocacy at KASB, said he wasn't aware of research-based consensus that pay for performance improved overall academic results in the classroom. …

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