Merit-Based Rewards for Teachers Pushed on Hill; Local Performance-Pay Programs Attracts Bipartisan Backing

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Merit-Based Rewards for Teachers Pushed on Hill; Local Performance-Pay Programs Attracts Bipartisan Backing


Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Rewarding effective teachers with more pay has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill as about a dozen House members pushed a bill last week that would help states and localities set up merit-based pay systems for educators.

"If we are intent on placing a high-quality teacher in every U.S. classroom, then we must be willing to support innovative, locally driven concepts such as performance pay for teachers and principals," said a letter in support of the bill, distributed to House members last week by Republican Reps. Tom Price of Georgia and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California.

The bill has 12 co-sponsors, including two Democrats, and would establish in law the Teacher Incentive Fund, which was created by the Bush administration in fiscal 2006. The program would provide grants to help develop performance-based pay systems that reward teachers and principals who boost student achievement levels and close achievement gaps.

The fund received about $99 million in 2006, and administration officials doled out about half of that, but Congress essentially zeroed out funding in 2007 as a cost-cutting measure.

So now, the administration and Republicans are working to give the fund more legitimacy and permanency, which is why the administration is seeking $199 million in 2008 funding and Mr. Price and Mr. McKeon introduced their bill.

Taking steps to move to performance-based pay systems for teachers is contentious, especially with teachers' unions. But the idea appears to have growing bipartisan support, including key Democrats such as House education panel Chairman George Miller of California. …

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