The fight in the LAUSD to shift the emphasis toward judging teachers' performance is in the middle rounds. Last month, a Superior Court judge ruled L.A. Unified to be in violation of a 41-year-old law requiring student progress to be part of teacher evaluations. That emboldened Superintendent John Deasy -- not that Deasy really needed a lot more encouragement, since he'd already been advocating data-based evaluation of teachers' effectiveness, using a formula that includes students' standardized test scores.
Given the unions' stated skepticism about the reliability of teacher-evaluation formulas, one way to encourage teachers' support it to involve them in designing merit-pay systems.
That happened in the case of the Green Dot Public Schools, which operate 18 charter schools in Los Angeles, Inglewood and Venice. About one-third of Green Dot's more than 500 teachers took part in crafting the evaluation method.
Green Dot teachers will be ranked in five tiers. Those in the top tier at the end of the year will receive a $2,000 bonus, those in the second tier $1,000, those in the third tier $500.
More like it indeed. Hats off to Green Dot, and let's hope that other teachers -- both in Los Angeles and statewide -- follow their lead. If, as they so often tell us, "it's all about the children", they should welcome the incentives.
What's more, as a union official told our reporter Rob Kuznia, the bonuses could also serve the purpose of persuading those who never receive them to quit the profession. Then they can be replaced by more promising teachers. That's more like it.