StudentsFirst sends out deceptive email urging support of “Teach to the Test Teacher Pay” bill

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Last month, I wrote about yet another Republican attack on teachers in the form of House Bill 4625. This bill, as I said then, would make teachers’ pay primarily based on student progress. Current law says that teacher pay should be using job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor. House Bill 4625, introduced by Republican Pete Lund, would make teacher pay based primarily on these factors. As I pointed out then, Republicans have made it harder for teachers to help their students succeed and now want to punish them by making progress, something that is much, much harder to achieve, the basis for their pay.

Today Deb Shaughnessy, a former Republican state House member who is now the Michigan Outreach Director for the anti-teacher group StudentsFirst, sent out the following wildly deceptive email in support of H.B. 4625:

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Dear StudentsFirst Supporter:

Mr. Abud, an outstanding science teacher at Gross Pointe North High School, was awarded 2013-14 Michigan Teacher of the Year. His impact on his students, school and district has been invaluable. Yet he makes $21K less than the average teacher salary for his district!

There is something wrong with this picture. How can we attract talented individuals to the teaching profession and keep our great teachers in the classroom if we don’t value excellent performance? Fortunately a bill to address this issue was passed by the House Education Committee and now it is up for a vote on the House Floor.

Please ask your Representative to vote YES on HB 4625, and let’s start paying teachers what they deserve!

In most districts, the only way that teachers can increase their pay, besides just teaching longer in the same district, is to obtain additional degrees. We ask teachers to spend thousands of dollars out of their own pockets and to take time away from professional development and lesson planning in order to move up the salary scale. What’s worse is that research shows that advanced degrees have limited impact on teacher effectiveness.

We should eliminate onerous advanced degree requirements for teachers and put into place programs that pay teachers for their talent and hard work. HB 4625 does just that. Teachers would then be paid for things that matter — like their commitment to students and contributions to their school. Click the link below to ask your state Representative to vote YES for performance-based pay for teachers.

[Link removed]

Thank you for taking the time to speak out for great Michigan teachers.

Sincerely,

Deb

Deb Shaughnessy
Michigan Outreach Director, StudentsFirst

(I’ve removed the link so nobody accidentally sends an email in support.)

This email is incredibly deceptive. There is nothing — NOTHING! — in H.B. 4625 that would ensure teachers like Mr. Abud would receive higher compensation after it has passed. In fact, given how strapped for cash most school systems are right now thanks to the GOP, it’s pretty unlikely that he would be. The only thing the bill does is remove a teacher’s years of service and the attainment of advanced degrees (unless they are in the subject area the teacher is in) from being factors in determining compensation. Instead, it would all be determined on student test scores and improvements in them.

In other words, if you wanted to accurately title this bill, it would be called the “Teach to the Test Teacher Pay” bill.

They also say, “In most districts, the only way that teachers can increase their pay, besides just teaching longer in the same district, is to obtain additional degrees.” This is absurd. The current Michigan School Code specifically requires using job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor in determining teacher compensation. Here’s the actual language of the existing law (emphasis mine):

A school district, public school academy, or intermediate school district shall implement and maintain a method of compensation for its teachers and school administrators that includes job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor in determining compensation and additional compensation. The assessment of job performance shall incorporate a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system that evaluates a teacher’s or school administrator’s performance at least in part based upon data on student growth as measured by assessments and other objective criteria.

The only thing that changes in this with H.B. 4625 is swapping out the word “significant” for the “word” primary. So, suggesting that this bill would somehow give Mr. Abud a big raise is ludicrous.

Ironically, when the anti-teacher Mackinac Center tried to get Mr. Abud to support THEIR support of this legislation, they didn’t recieve it. Quite the opposite, in fact:

It is not what goes into a teacher’s wallet, but what comes from their heart, that guides their decisions about classroom practice,” Abud said. “Blows to the hearts of teachers, such as negative public rhetoric directed toward Michigan teachers will propagate a seemingly hostile professional environment that discourages the best and brightest from entering and remaining in the field.

Those blows are delivered daily by StudentsFirst and the Mackinac Center.

But StudentsFirst doesn’t want you to know any of this. They want you to think that the teachers unions, for some unknown and completely illogical reason, don’t want good teachers to be adequately compensated and this bill is needed to solve this problem. Except, of course, that it’s not a problem that even exists. This deception makes no sense and has one purpose and one purpose only: to create hatred of unionized teachers and the organizations that represent them. Demonizing of teachers unions and their members is their primary modus operandi.

Don’t be fooled and don’t let anyone you know be fooled. This is simply more anti-union, anti-teacher, corporatist propaganda in its purest form.

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