Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CMS teacher pay: Hope, fear and confusion

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' long trek toward teacher performance pay took another twist Tuesday,  when CMS leaders backed away from submitting a plan to the state this week.

Superintendent Heath Morrison and the teacher task force that has been working on the proposal since late last year decided there was no way to meet the March 1 deadline set by House Bill 950,  despite an earlier announcement that CMS would seize the opportunity to take the lead on this issue with a teacher-crafted plan.  CMS asked for an extension and didn't get it  --  but to hear Tuesday's presentation, that's just as well.

The Pay for Excellence bill invited districts to develop performance-pay plans by March 1,  with bonuses or raises awarded for such factors as student growth on test scores and teachers taking on additional responsibilities. But lawmakers have allotted no money to help districts do that.  Essentially, that means there's no reward for making the deadline and no penalty for missing it.  So CMS decided to submit a proposal on its own timetable,  which remains undetermined.  Morrison said 2014-15 would be the earliest a new pay plan could debut.

As of Tuesday night,  neither Morrison nor the task force had seen a draft proposal from Battelle for Kids,  the nonprofit consultant that's been guiding the work. Rather than try to whip something out and risk repeating mistakes that have marred the district's past work,  they opted to carefully shape a plan that  includes teacher voices and vet it with the district's employees before taking anything to the state.  CMS emailed a summary of the work so far and a 9-minute video promoting the work to employees on Tuesday.

In 2010,  when then-Superintendent Peter Gorman launched the first performance-pay push,  he consulted teachers as well.  But he lost the confidence of many employees when he worked behind their backs to get legislative clearance for a pay plan that wouldn't require teacher approval.

Without getting specific,  board members Eric Davis and Tom Tate both acknowledged the harm those early efforts inflicted on morale.  "I deeply regret the anger,  frustration and trust that was lost,"  Davis said,  adding that he didn't regret starting a worthy effort. "We certainly screwed up before,"  Tate agreed.

Erlene Lyde,  a veteran teacher from Harding High who spoke to the board Tuesday,  talked about the fear she has heard from colleagues:  Fear that they'll get a pay cut.  Fear that CMS will launch one more pilot without money to sustain it.  Fear that "someone would try to force an already-designed plan down our throats."

The task force agreed that any change in pay should be opt-in for current teachers,  allowing them to stick with the current system if they don't want to take the risk.  Lyde and her co-presenters  --  Allison Moore from Dilworth Elementary and Michael Pillsbury and Steven Oreskovic from Randolph Middle  --  voiced strong hope that this will eventually be the plan that is shaped and embraced by teachers.

"I want to save our profession,"  Lyde said,  "and to save our profession we must do things differently than we have in the past."

So the question remains:  Who will submit plans by Friday,  and what will happen next?  State officials said they'd received none as of Tuesday.  The Gaston Gazette reports that Gaston County Schools has worked up a plan for bonuses up to $10,000 and is hoping the state will agree to pick up the tab.

Meanwhile Thom Tillis,  the House speaker from Mecklenburg County,  has launched a weeklong focus on education initiatives that include performance pay,  according to Carolina Journal Online.  He met with superintendents on Tuesday and will follow up with principals and teachers.


Anonymous said...

Stop the foolishly complicated pay plans. Simply pay teachers a decent wage and benefits. Get rid of incompetent teachers. Stop this " pick and choose" pay idea. It's divisive, insulting, and cannot be administered fairly. Reinstate the logical pay scale and if you want to supplement for additional duties- well and good. Pay for student test scores is inherently unfair because there are too many variables teachers cannot control.

Anonymous said...

Hope fear confusion??? That's what CMS students think about the teachers and their race affected compromised educations.

This is a joke. FIre them all.

Anonymous said...

What video? I didn't get a video. Nor did I get an e-mail about the work so far.

But while we are on the subject, pay me a livable wage and then if you want to give me a bonus for working even harder, that's fine.

But if you do make my pay dependent upon how well a child learns (kind of like how much water I can get a horse to drink), then you had better darn well make sure that I don't have to put up with any behavior nonsense while I'm trying to teach. I better have the right to insist that the students in my room do their homework, not disrupt anyone else, keep their hands to themselves and when they don't come to school, that isn't my fault.

And yes, please do get rid of those teachers who give my profession a bad name. I'll give you a list. Can it include administration?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that the honorable(cough, cough) Mr. Tillis and the John Locke Foundation had that in mind. Go ahead and privatize, bring along those charters, virtuals, and make sure that teacher certification is no longer needed. Long live sequestration in education!

YoungLady said...

Pay for performance has been tried before by CMS. It idi not work then and will not work now. How can you base a teacher's performance on how well his.her students perform. If I have all gifted students they will out perform students who are high poverty on a bad day. It is not far to the teachers or the students. The money should be spent to hire additional Social Workers, School Psychologist and Truancy Officers. We need to get the students to school, require them to behave when they get there, work to correct issues that the school has no control over, hire/retain highly qualified teachers and hold the parents accountable.

Anonymous said...

It's fun sitting back and watching the ineptness continue to roll within CMS.

22 task forces and they still can't tie their shoes.

Maybe they should go to a pre-K class for a day.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Morrison and board members said they plan to push for higher overall salaries along with the new job categories and whatever other elements the new compensation plan may have. But asking is one thing, receiving is another ...

YoungLady, I get what you're saying about student ability shaping performance. But it's worth remembering that "poverty" and "gifted" are not mutually exclusive.

Jeff Wise said...

Personally, this looks to me to be more about what kind of influence CMS may, or may not, have on the state legislature.

I know there's still work going on within CMS and more importantly at the state level on various schemas for implementing student growth measures and some of it is being readied for full blown implementation next school year.

Anonymous said...

I told that girl that my prospects were good
she said baby, it's understood
Working for peanuts is all very fine
But I can show you a better time

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I'll love you

Beep beep'm beep beep yeah

-CMS Project LIFT Compensation For Greatness (Executive Club Limo Ride With The Boss)

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense for CMS to cry about teacher pay when they have enough to pay some Phys Ed teachers over $70,000/year. And according to the 2012 pay database, 2 of them are in elementary school.
There are thousands of unemployed phys ed majors. We cannot get science teachers because we don't pay enough. Seems like some rebalancing needs to occur first.

Anonymous said...

Physical education is just as important as any other subject area. Since NCLB, this country has been conditioned into thinking the only subjects that matter are math, reading and, more recently, science because they're the only ones that are tested. Right now, one-third of our children are overweight or obese. We won't be "globally competitive" in 30 or 40 years when this becomes a health care crisis.

Anonymous said...

It only took 17 minutes for the phys ed response.
Nobody said phys ed wasn't important. Nobody said they shouldn't earn even more. Nobody said obese children are the goal. When will people start prioritizing. If we cannot move a few dollars from phys ed to science and accomplish more by doing so this country is doomed.

Anonymous said...

March 2012 show 24 phys ed teachers earning over $65,000. We are losing science teachers to industry because we don't pay enough. Sounds reasonable to me to move funds.

TheEmperorHasNoClothes said...

Those PE teachers have probably been teaching for 30 years. That's how the pay scale works... When they started teaching (late 70s, early 80s?) starting teacher pay was around $10,000 a year.

How about instead of "strategic compensation" or whatever the buzzword is, the state and district give teachers the back pay that was "frozen" for 4 years? No (or tiny) raise + increased insurance premiums = pay cut. That is what has happened to teachers for about the last 5 years. And it isn't like teachers were getting huge bonuses during the economic boom years either.

Maybe CMS should model their compensation plan on Bank of America's executive compensation: pay an average "base" salary, then a bonus worth almost 15 times the base salary, awarded for a miniscule increase 9or even a decrease!)output. Works for business, and the "education reform" movement is trying to make education run like a business, right?

Anonymous said...

Raw nerve has been touched.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that the more experienced and higher paid teachers are doing something more important than PE.


Hire some younger, lower paid teachers for that job.

Sorry "coach"...

Anonymous said...

And use the savings to pay going rate for science, math, etc and hold on to the other teachers. Heck, even history teachers don't have anyone paid over $65,000. per March 2012 salary database.

TheEmperorHasNoClothes said...

Many of those "PE" teachers also coach sports, for which they receive a very modest (hardly worth it) stipend. That is added in when calculating their overall pay in the Observer's database.

As bad as the obesity epidemic already is, and with the knowledge that it will continue to worsen, we need all the PE teachers we can get! Obese kids --> obese adults --> higher medical costs, which we ALL pay for.

Also, stop razzing PE teachers for what they get paid. ALL teachers should get paid MORE.

Anonymous said...

I'm not necessarily adverse to the idea of paying the high school AP physics teacher more then the elementary school P.E. teacher.

However, what should comparative starting salaries and bonus pay be for the ESL teacher, the gifted teacher, the EC teacher, the Title 1 teacher, etc...? Do these teachers affect overall pay-for-performance test scores? How do ESL, gifted and EC teachers impact student achievement growth? Should regular classroom teachers be penalized for having to work with a lousy ESL, EC, or Gifted teacher who may or may not be doing their job? I'm confused as to how this all pieces together. If 1/3 of the kids in my class are ESL students who also happen to be gifted, how will NC measure my individual effectiveness as a classroom teacher as well as the individual effectiveness of the ESL and AG teacher who also work with my students?


Anonymous said...

What about highly-paid teacher leaders like the ones they are hiring at ProjectLIFT? What if, as an ordinary teacher, I'm assigned an ineffective highly paid teacher leader who doesn't live up to all the hype? How will this impact my performance pay? Will the state be giving out team bonuses or only individual bonuses?


Anonymous said...

What if 25% of the kids in my class are identified as learning disabled but the EC department isn't doing their job as effectively as they should be?


Anonymous said...

As coach White would say, "duh".

Anonymous said...

11:59 I'm not aware of elementary PE teachers coaching any elem teams. Over $60,000 for PE does sound ridiculous, as are the Art teachers getting paid over $60,000 at our elem school. CMS, reset your priorities. How about specials every other week? I would appreciate more time being spent on reading, math and science.

Anonymous said...

Maybe $4 million for leading a non-profit Durable Medical Equipment provider (CHS) is more in line for the PE teachers?

Anonymous said...

As long as the staus quo remains, nothing will change and any attempt to come up with a teacher pay for performance plan will not work.

The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments today about abolishing part of the Voting Rights Act, with a number of justices questioning the validity of the Justice Department keeping their thumb on those states.

“The problem, many of the justices say, is that now the law when it was re-enacted the last time (in 2006) isn’t forward looking enough. Many of the justices said that the problems in the South aren’t as bad as they are in some places in the North.”

This parallels the Swann case, where the Supreme Court refused to hear the case (appeal), thus effectively ending busing to achieve integration.

It's been nearly 13 years since Swann was overturned, yet the system itself still sucks. We got rid of busing but not the status quo thinking.

Until public education is reduced to its basic level - allowing teacher's to teach and kids to learn, any pay for performance plan will not work.

Too much time, money and energy is being spent on this issue. Fix the entire system first, worry about PFP later.

Anonymous said...

March 2012 database shows 40 phys ed teachers paid over $60,000. This includes bonus but does not include coaching pay.
Dozens more within a couple hundred dollars of $60K.
March 2013 could be interesting.

Ghoul said...

Hey Anne,

Why no comments allowed on the free laptop giveaway? We are not allowed to criticize government sponsored discrimination? I can not wait for the lawsuits to be filed by suburban students who are not given free laptops because of their race or nationality.

I remember a story about a guy wanting to donate a ballet bar to a local high school, but he was not allowed to since he was not giving a bar to every high school, what is different here?

Ann Doss Helms said...

Our online staff disable comments when too many of them cross the line into inappropriate/abusive stuff. That's their call; I haven't discussed that with them (I didn't even write that particular story).

I keep hearing variations on that donation story, but never first-hand with specifics that can be checked. It's simply not true that CMS won't allow donations to an individual school. There are all sorts of booster clubs, PTAs, alumni groups, business partners and houses of worship that give time, money and material goods to one school without having to do the same for the entire district.

Anonymous said...


You knew the answer to that question before you typed it.

Let's ask the question in two years as to how many can still be found and being used effectively.

What happens if more students come in next year? Who provides the additional laptops? What happens if enrollment drops? Where do the extra laptops go? What happens to fifth graders who all of a sudden have to give up a laptop they've had for four years? Who is paying for technical support? Will the laptops be upgaded down the road and who will pay for that?

So many questions, no answers.

But hey, I feel good, you?

Jeff Wise said...

Who is to say that $60,000 is too much to pay a PE teacher?

What if that PE teacher impacts your child more than their English teacher? What if that PE teacher shows your child it's okay to fail and your child ends up being the next Steve Jobs?

Because it's your taxes?

An Army Warrant Officer grade 4 with over 20 years of service is paid over $76,000.

That's taxpayer money too - is that person paid too much as well?

I'm curious to know how exactly that you know from just looking at a salary number that a particular teacher is overpaid?

Anonymous said...

If a warrant officer works the average working days in a year like most of us, 260, that's $292.30 per day.

A PE teacher making $60,000 at 180 days makes $333.33 per day.

Anonymous said...

Ann, As far as the donations rule goes perhaps there are (or maybe there once were) some parameters for donations and if a donation falls outside those parameters it doesn't make the cut. I do know for a fact that in 1998 (pre-laptop and tablet days) the husband of the principal at my son's middle school offered to donate to the school two unused computers from his office so that my son and another child could take an on-line Algebra II class from Stanford during their math period (both had completed algebra I and geometry). The principal was told this was unacceptable since every school wasn't getting two extra computers. My son used are at home computer to take the class. Wasn't particularly happy about having to take another class after school.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, above comment should have said "our" computer, not "are" computer. Long day!

Anonymous said...

I do believe PE teachers are much more valuable than Singleton.
If we have millions for Singleton then every teacher should be paid over $100,000.
Even if it is only for 8 or 9 months.

Anonymous said...


Why do we constantly spend millions on testing, consultants, surveys and the flavor of the month project?

How can any teacher watch this mess and have a positive attitude about the formulation of different pay plans every year and the continued waste of good taxpayer money?

Why cant the BofE and CMS start with:

ABC Bonus money that was never paid
Return of Vision benefits
Return of Dental benefits
Return of Health benefitls (80/20)
Return of the step increase in pay (A stretch I know because of previous articles that said the state could not affoard this)

Ann, please ask WHY these items that employees have lost thousands on over the last several years cant be returned first? Why also do we continue to spend millions of wasted dollars and wasted years to come up with ? plans.

Morale and quality employees will return with the salary and benefits that were STANDARD five years ago.

Anonymous said...

If PE Teachers are doing their job then why are 1/3 of our children obese?

The next crisis to bankrupt our country is healthcare, medicare and medicade.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree 7:26!

I am a CMS teacher and was very excited about being a part of the team last year to craft the performance pay system. However, I ended up being more frustrated than not, and eventually stopoed attending meetings. There were so many questions, scenarios, what ifs...etc. that it was impossible to get our group of 12 or so individuals to agree on anything!

I watched the Board Meeting and read the Power Point presentation. The Board needs to be asking more questions about how this is really going to work. The plan was very vague and still leaves many questions.

For example, how do you get to enter into these tracks? Do you have to prove your effectiveness somehow, before you can become an instructional/curriculum/assessment/technology leader? If so, how? Will there be a limit to how many teachers can become coaches, specialists, experts? What if I take on additional duties that do not fall into one of the categories? Will I be compensated for those?

This "pathways model" only seems to focus on compensating for additional responsibilities. Where do test scores fall into this plan? What about your yearly evaluation? Student surveys? Will these affect your pay? I didn't hear any talk of the multiple measures that the focus groups from last year had discussed.

Round and around we go....

Anonymous said...

Millions spent on consultants and surveys and testing and ect...

The powerpoint slide presentation showed a bunch of mixed up circles on a whiteboard. My God people does anyone know any 21st technology skills such as an Excel spreadsheet? What another sad case of ready, fire and aim. Did Latarza put together those whitboard slides?

Anonymous said...

"Teachers can become coaches,specialists,experts"

Teachers can become PAWNS to the whims of CMeS adiministrators.

This time they will stab the teachers in the front not the back like Gorman did. CMeS did learn from one of their biggest mistakes over the last 5 years.

Remember the June they fired 29 AP's to latter hire Dean positions. Great, more work for the same lowzy teachers pay. This shell game wil go on and on an on and on just like the wheels of the bus.

Anonymous said...

What was presented last night was not the plan, but a glimpse of the thinking behind what the teachers created...just a piece of the entire plan with will include information about test scores, evaluations, surveys, etc.

And it is being crafted without the heavy handed approach of Andy Baxter and Thom Tomberlin "refocusing" teachers on what the system wanted rather than on what the teachers thought would work. What you did last year is not what is being done this year, 7:50. This is NOT Pete's TEP (he was NEVER about do WITH teachers,) but a true mix of teachers and other school personnel trying to really affect change.

Anonymous said...


Like the last 4 Directors of the JOKE that is the Human Resources Department.

How can CMeS improve the Teacher when they have a constant stream of failures in that 1 job?

Anonymous said...


There is only:


Anonymous said...

I am a 5th year teacher. I am qualified and certified to teach all four core content areas at the middle school. I am also qualified and certified to teach Spanish at the middle school and high school level. I am still further qualified to teach English at the high school level. For these reasons, I have been assigned six different preps over the last 5 years-- 5 different preps in the last 3 years. And still expected to be "accomplished" and take on "leadership roles".

I have been paid-- and am still paid at-- a first year teacher's salary.

I will blame CMS for many of the idiocies that I encounter on a daily basis in my job. My salary, however, is not one of them. It is the "great" state of North Carolina that has held my wages down for the past four years, by abusing its ability to freeze its salary scale in times of emergency. 1% raise from the state this last year, you say? I have been much tempted to take out $340-- in ones-- from the bank and mail it to the legislature. My delivery will, of course, be accompanied by a note signed simply "Keep your raise. You apparently need it more than I do."

Did I mention that I coach, as well? Did you know that the modest coaches' stipend of $1000 for middle school is taxed as a "bonus" by North Carolina? Did you also know that if a school, for some reason, finds itself employing a non-staff member as a coach, this $1000 is NOT taxed as a "bonus"? Have you put two-and-two together and realized that this means teachers who volunteer to coach are paid less for their time (let's say 100-150 hours a season?) than a non-teacher would be?

Something is rotten in the state of North Carolina.

This "great" state can talk as it will about wanting the best for its children. What I know is this: I work 30 hours a week at a second job, in the hope that I will one day be able to buy a house, and god knows, raise a family. That is 30 hours a week I COULD BE using to make better lessons to engage and more effectively enrich my students lives. Every day that I leave school quickly to go work another job, I know that I am shortchanging my students. Unfortunately, this state, this system, leaves me with no other choice.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You are getting 1st year pay after 5 years?
With the qualifications you say you have.
Do you comprehend that one reason your pay is where it is is $70,000.+ going to elementary PE?
Something does not add up.

Anonymous said...

1. CMS does not set the pay scale for PE teachers or any other teacher. The state does.
2. All teachers in NC are paid according to their years of service and their level of education. To reach the 60K mark and higher as a teacher, you must have many years of service (20+ and a Master's Degree and National Board).
3. Why do we have more in the PE field that have managed to hang on for 20+ years? Math and Science teachers quickly find that there are many higher paying jobs outside of education, therefore not as many make it for 20+ years.
4. The parents are to blame for obese kids. They are in control of what their child eats and the one that sets the tone for healthy living, not the PE teacher who can only educate and encourage, with a student load of 500+ per year.
5. No teacher works 180 days. Those are the number of student days and do not include workdays. Also, remember that the school hours are spent with students and attending meetings. When do you think teacher create their lessons and grade student work?
6. I teach Algebra and math. I work about 55 hours each week at school plus spend additional,time at home grading student work. Teaching different courses, such Algebra and math, require different curriculum materials and lessons for each day. My job is difficult, but so is the PE teacher's who is responsible for the safety of the 50 students assigned to his class. If he or she is making making more than me, it is not because of some whim of CMS. It is because that individual has more experience and education than I do.
7. All teachers deserve a raise. You get what you pay for. And we are losing the best and the brightest.

Anonymous said...

Point 7 conflicts with point 3.
Put a max on PE pay so others can immediately get a raise.