Thursday, May 16, 2002

Teachers begin voting on merit plan

Proposal would link pay to quality of their work

By Jennifer Mrozowski,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        About 1,200 members of Cincinnati Public Schools' teachers union — more than a third of its 3,300 members — voted Wednesday on whether to tie their pay to their evaluations.

[photo] Crowding a ballot box, members of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers cast their votes Wednesday.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        If approved, it would be one of the nation's first pay-for-performance plans for teachers.

        Voting will continue today, and results are expected by Friday.

        The pay plan will be implemented this fall unless 70 percent of union members who vote choose to reject it.

        If approved, the plan would put a dent in an 80-year tradition of paying teachers by years of experience rather than teaching quality.

        The union, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, recommended in April that its members reject the plan.

        “There's nothing (the union) is more committed to than improving student achievement, but this plan is half-baked,” union president Sue Taylor told the members before the vote.

        The union has said the 2-year-old evaluation system has not been tested by enough teachers, and it questions whether the district can fund the plan.

        Eyvette Hammett, a third-grade reading intervention teacher at Gamble Elementary in Westwood, has been with the district for 22 years. She voted against the plan.

        “It hasn't been explained well enough,” she said. “And I don't like that our pay can be docked.”

        Wednesday's secret-ballot vote, which took place at Xavier University's Cintas Center, and today's vote are being overseen by the American Arbitration Association, a New York firm that conducts arbitration and mediation for major companies and unions.

        “We want the vote to be beyond reproach,” Ms. Taylor said.

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