An article in the WaPo today has Chancellor Rhee asserting that her pay plan for teachers is sustainable. Rhee had a consulting firm construct some economic models, and they say that there should be enough money to pay for the raises with district dollars in five years.
Of course, not everyone will take the Chancellor's statements at face value. The documents related to the consultant's research are confidential, as they are part of the contract negotiations. Chancellor Rhee has declined to name the private foundations that are going to fund these raises, and that has a lot of people worried too. There are others who think it's just generally bad news to fund public schools with private funds.
I personally think Rhee's pay plan makes sense -- teachers in DCPS require a special set of talents and skills, and simple supply and demand says when you need something that's in short supply to have to pay more for it. But Rhee's plan went nowhere with the union, and who knows if it ever will. The biggest problem, of course, is that teachers don't want to give up tenure, which is what Rhee was asking for in exchange for the increased pay.
I know a dicussion of "Rhee" and "Contract Negotiations" usually devolves into unbridled craziness (from both sides), but I'm willing to brave these waters anyway. Here's my question: what exactly are we, as teachers, willing to give up in order to receive higher pay? Is the answer, "nothing" and we want to remain on the same pay scale? Is the answer "tenure rights" and we want Rhee's scale? Or is there some in-between point that we'd be willing to settle on?
For me, I say screw tenure. This isn't Tennessee in 1926 and we're not going to get fired for teaching evolution or being agnostic. I do my job well, and I'm not concerned about getting the axe. The increased salary would allow me (and many other teachers) to afford to own property in DC -- something that is pretty much out of the question right now. So my vote is to go with Rhee's pay plan. Of course, that's just one vote.
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