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Education

Performance pay for teachers moves forward in state House

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Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
The Michigan House of Representatives.

A state House panel has approved a plan to tie teachers’ pay to student performance. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they’re worried the bill would strip away local control.

Bill supporters say just because someone has been teaching for a long time, that doesn’t mean they’re a great teacher. They say educators should be paid more if their students are making progress, and less if they’re not.

Christine Beardsley is the superintendent of the Eaton Intermediate School District. She says the district is already implementing a merit pay system for teachers. But Beardsley says the bill would strip control from local administrators.

“Our system that we negotiated with our employees works for us, it’s designed by us, and we’re excited about it. Now I’m really depressed about it, because it’s wiped out. I can’t even do it.”

The bill would only apply to teachers hired after the law goes into effect.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) says it’s important to hold all Michigan teachers accountable.

“I’m encouraged that some schools do it, and I think that’s an example of how we can make it work. But I think more schools need to do it. Again, a teacher needs to be rewarded for being a good teacher,” said Lund.

The legislation would also prohibit schools from giving raises to all teachers who earn advanced degrees. Raises could still be awarded to teachers who earn advanced degrees that are directly related to their subject area.