Friday, April 25, 2014

Pay flexibility and public scrutiny

Forget, for a moment, the legal questions about public disclosure of charter salaries.  Richard Vinroot and Eddie Goodall,  local leaders in North Carolina's charter school movement,  have raised the argument that pay flexibility makes it essential to protect teacher salaries from disclosure  --  to their colleagues.

"Common sense suggests that we value the delicate balance by which charter operators and employees, who together, negotiate just the appropriate wage to satisfy each other,"  Goodall,  head of the N.C. Public Charter School Association,  wrote recently.  "Charters don’t mind if the public knows what everybody makes!  They only care about the third grade teacher, Tim, learning what Sally, the other third grade teacher, is making. The whole issue is about poisoning the chemistry of the charter team, adding an ingredient that might alter the flavor of the whole dish."

Vinroot contends that performance-based pay,  unlike that of teachers on a traditional salary schedule,  would cause disruption in two charter schools he works with if colleagues knew each other's pay.
Bertrand: Performance pay does create pressure ...
It's true that on the state pay scale,  you can figure out what your colleagues make if you know how many years they've worked and what kind of credentials they hold.  That locked-in schedule evolved from a time when pay discrepancies were often based on gender and race.  Some experts call it a good solution to yesterday's problems.

Charters are hardly alone in seeking better options.  The quest for a smarter teacher pay system is a national obsession,  with North Carolina and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in the thick of it.  One of the few points of near-universal agreement is this:  Done right,  performance pay doesn't just boost teachers' paychecks,  it improves the quality of teaching.

That means teachers who earn richer rewards should be doing so for reasons that people who cut the paychecks can explain.  Maybe it's because of test scores or classroom management or leadership skills.  Maybe it's because they're qualified to teach high-level math or science and it's hard to fill those jobs.  You can argue whether the standards are the right ones,  but they shouldn't be a mystery.

Those of us outside the classroom can argue theory all day long.  Reality can be a different matter.  So I asked Kristin Cubbage and Romain Bertrand,  two teachers who have been publicly identified as getting hefty raises based on their skills,  to discuss the question of working with colleagues after that disclosure.

Cubbage: Salary report didn't cause strife
Cubbage and Bertrand are part of the CMS/Project LIFT  "opportunity culture"  experiment.  Since more than 700 teachers applied for 19 jobs with greater responsibility and higher pay,  it's reasonable to suspect that some of their colleagues wanted the jobs they got.

Cubbage,  a first-grade teacher at Ashley Park PreK-8 School,  is blunt:  If it were up to her,  individual salaries, bonuses and incentive payments wouldn't be disclosed.  And when she agreed to be featured in an Observer article as one of the people receiving higher pay,  "I was a little nervous because money is a touchy subject within education."

"However, I did not feel any 'strife' at my school. In fact no one mentioned the salary portion of the article at all,"  she wrote. "I have only heard comments such as: 'I would not want your job because of all of your different responsibilities each day.'  ... If the teachers at my school are aware of the extra pay, they are also aware of what my role entails and the responsibility that what comes with it."

Bertrand,  a Ranson Middle School math teacher,  said the pressure doesn't come from the knowledge that he's making more money but from the need to prove he's earning it.  He's now responsible for six other teachers and more than 800 math students.  Not only will he be judged on year-end test scores,  but he feels a need to prove himself to his colleagues daily.

"They need to see how this position brings added value to the team: what is this person doing to make us all better?"  Bertrand wrote.  "They need to understand what they need to do to get a shot at such an opportunity in the future.  How does this ladder work?  What are the skills required to move up the ladder and be given a chance to hold such a role?  What is the equitable process in place to give everyone a chance to get there?"

Under the traditional system,  a teacher like Bertrand would have had to leave the classroom to earn a good raise.  Now he remains  "in the trenches,"  where his colleagues can judge whether his work makes a difference for kids.

When this year's CMS salaries are posted,  the additional pay for Bertrand,  Cubbage and the other opportunity culture teachers will be on display. I'll wager those schools will have bigger salary differences than charter schools do.

As the effort expands,  we'll see how other schools select and reward their high performers.  Private donations are paying for the consultants who help schools define the duties for those teachers,  and public jobs are being rearranged to cover the higher salaries.  Eventually,  the work of these individual teachers will determine whether this was just another idea that sounded good in theory or a real breakthrough in reforming the profession.

That's a lot of pressure.  But these folks are stepping up to show they can handle it.


Larry said...

So the fact donations make at least 25 percent to cover the fact the State only pays 80 percent per student, or 2500.00 dollars less per student over what systems like CMS get is not of importance.

Nor the fact donations, investments, loans take up the building of these schools, over tax paid buildings which only show in bonds which our taxes pay over the years, is considered.

Only the fact we have the Charter Schools where we want them. They will become part of CMS and systems like that or they will be closed.

Sounds like a great plan to me.

Oh and I agree, with disclosure, that is why we should never have any closed door meetings, any secret government funding or anything that is not show to us, at at our beck an call.

After all we all spend hours and hours just looking though all that government stuff just to make sure they are doing the right thing.

Like our spending at CMS. Or the salaries well paid folks get on the UNCC system. Why the list is endless of what we watch and keep them from spending tax money on.

Anonymous said...

Public money, public disclosure. Teachers in public schools have complained about having their miserable salaries in the paper for years. To bad, its public money. Charters should do the same. It's the law. If you don't like it get another job.

Wiley Coyote said...

If you receive tax dollars, your books, including salaries, should be public information.

Renaissance West is a "cradle to career" community, which seeks to break the cycle of poverty with a mix of high-quality child care, public education, health care and support services.

Not one penny of tax dollars should go to child care, health care or any other service that is not customary in a traditional public school down the street and we should demand accountability showing that is not happening...

Even though we know CMS is salary bloated at the top and mid-level, they don't care and will never cull the herd.

We as taxpayers should demand CMS do so....

Anonymous said...

This article seems like justification for the effort to expose charter teacher pay files.

This effort to expose teacher pay at any type of school is wrong. If you are in the bottom third at a regular school, there's no shame in that because your salary is set by a formula that has nothing to do with how well you do your job. Good job performance in public schools is neither rewarded nor discouraged through the pay system. Good job performance simply is or it isn't.

This isn't the case in charter schools. It's unfair to charter teachers to expose how the system values them.

Yes, expose salaries of administrators at public schools and charter schools. Expose teacher salaries if you have to, without names. But you shouldn't expose teachers' names and their salaries at any school, Ann. You wouldn't like it if somebody did that to you. What you're doing is harmful to teachers and harmful to the kids they teach. It may be the law for now, but that doesn't make it right.

Anonymous said...

Larry, charters get less for many reasons. They don't have to provide transportation which would greatly increase their expenses. They don't have to accept all students. Cms has kids who have incredible disabilities such as brain damage from car accidents, etc. They send a nurse and a taxi to get kids like this. They then pay one adult to work with that kid all day long. Then they send the kid home. One kid can run into the 100s of thousands of dollars. When charters are forced to accept and keep all kids then they should get the same money.

Anonymous said...

what I find interesting in the comments by Vinroot, is that he is indicating there is a salary difference between teachers within a charter school. I will admit, money is a touchy subject, it can have a profound effect on morale, especially if one teacher finds that another teacher is making a larger salary. However I do agree with a previous post, charters should disclose their salary information, it's the right thing to do.

Larry said...

Charter schools get about 3 thousand per student less than systems like CMS.

With 58.7 Charter Students, the State is getting a great deal.

Also they are not paying or giving any buses to Charter Schools.

So maybe this whole thing can be a time to start paying them the full rate per student.

Anonymous said...

8:31, the "bottom third" issue raises a great point. If low salaries are designed to be punitive or send a "you ought to leave" message, then disclosure could be public humiliation. But that's not the way good performance pay systems are supposed to work. Dismissals, action plans, counseling out -- whatever you want to call it, that process is supposed to be done in a professional and constructive way.

If I could vote on whether the Observer would disclose all salaries by name, I'd vote yes. Knowledge is power. If I simply saw a list of reporter salaries and realized that some made more than me, it wouldn't tell me much. Depending on who it was, I might have questions about the pay system.

Anonymous said...

Good for Richard Vinroot who should take all his students from public charters and open a private school instead to get away from these never ending liberal whiners especially the one who writes this blog and pretends to be concerned and needs to get a life and out of other peoples business. Liberals are all obsessed with race and busybodies.
Fake Fake Fake ...

Wiley Coyote said...

Position SalaryDescending Total Compensation
Facilitator, Math - Title I $61,467.80 $61,467.80
Facilitator, Math - Title I $49,111.90 $49,111.90
Facilitator, Math - Title I $46,800.50 $46,800.50
Facilitator, Math - Title I $41,784.10 $41,784.10
Facilitator, Math - Title I $39,619.20 $54,119.20
Facilitator, Math - Title I $39,619.20 $39,619.20

Notice anything in the numbers posted above?

Salary ranges from $39,600 to $61,400.

One person making $39,600 received a $14,500 bonus for a total compensation of $54,000.

Why did they receive a bonus and the others did not?

Why does the top facilitator make over $20,000 more than others? Years employed? Experience?

Do these individuals work in other schools or just the school listed?

If just the school listed, why do we have only 6 Title I Math Facilitators?

Do we need any facilitators at all?

I'm just a taxpayer paying their salries asking these questions.

Larry said...

Say it enough and it is fact.

Why is it people still say
Charter Schools do not take in everyone.

Charters Schools have students who have have medical situations, and like at CMS they get special pay from the Government, State, Local and Federal.

Oh and the buses, why is it on Sunday you see kids getting picked up left and right, yet those buses in those neighborhoods do not move during the rest of the week?

Maybe folks in those neighborhoods just do not want to be bothered going to any schools except CMS.

If so, great. That is unless they look at the difference between most Charter Schools and just about any other CMS School.

And Yes, full rate per student from the State and full rate per student from the county without going through the hands and deciding what Charter Schools get CMS.

I just wonder where they are going to get all of that money since they can not even come up with a raise for CMS Teachers.

Someone once told me, you get what you ask for, so maybe we taxpayers who are so concerned with the salaries at Charter Schools and not the spending at systems like CMS will finally get what we asked for.

Anonymous said...

Larry, if you say often enough that charters get so much less state money, people might believe that, too. But you're comparing total CMS per-pupil spending (state, county, federal and grants) with the state allotment for charters. State allotment for charters is $5,187, as you've stated elsewhere. CMS got a per-pupil average of $4,924 from the state, $2,298 from local and $903 from federal, according to the most recent state report cards

Current CMS budget proposal sets the TOTAL per-pupil spending for the current year at $8,714, with $2,500 of that local. Could that be where you're getting that $2,500 gap?

Larry said...

So this is wrong?

That is what I am using for my per pupil spending in NC

We can take the budget of CMS and divide it by the number of students but that would be even higher per student than you mention.

So repeating and showing facts over and over again does show that it is indeed fact.

Anonymous said...

Larry, that report is a year old, and I can see how the wording in that blog post could be confusing. The 2014 NEA report puts current expenditures per pupil at $8,363 for North Carolina (p. 55). It also notes on p. 42 that 59.7 percent of North Carolina's revenue for K-12 public schools comes from the state.

Here's the link to the 2014 report:

Unknown said...


One day I'd like for CMS to show how their often used line "funding follows the child" works.

Well they can't and never will be able to because as Dr. Gorman told me, "That's not exactly how it works."

Anyway, it's not the amount average is spent, it is how it is spent.

I opt to believe CMS makes every effort to put the money in good places. But the politics of Equity are more powerful than good sense.

It’s a shame.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

So what does each child get for $8,700 dollars?

What is the breakout of that money?

Larry said...

Ok then with everything said, are Charter Schools getting as much as CMS type systems. In fact what is the difference?

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I suspect that's a rhetorical question and/or a setup for a quick retort. But if you want 310 pages of explanation, you can check out the CMS budget proposal:

Wiley Coyote said...

I've looked at a fair portion the data.

The question is a valid one since 82% +/- goes to salaries and benefits.

So if we were to spend an additional $3,000 per student, what do we/they get and where does the money go? To more bloat?

Will it magically improve their learning, the graduation rate, etc.?

Larry said...

Oh and we need to get the CMS website up to your facts.

Anonymous said...

Why are you such an ardent supporter of charter schools, do you have freinds or relatives who's children attend one, are you employed at one? If so would you explain the differences with regards to academics, can you give me a comparison of a child's academics while at a regular public school and then a charter. Please don't misundertsand me, I really do want to know, I would like an explanation. Very few people actually explain the difference between the two based on their actual experience. Please note, my children attend a different school system than CMS, a much smaller system and I see this as a huge benefit. This is one area where I agree with Thom Tillis, CMS might eb better split into sperate school systems. I also agree with him in that "IF" charters are truly that much better, then why not make traditional schools more charter like? He has a point, doesn't he?

Shamash said...

Sad that such a huge bureaucracy cannot answer a simple question such as how much is spent per child.

Not that I'd necessarily trust their answer.

Shamash said...

Better yet.

How much does CMS spend on these kids:

Vs this kid:

Just for funsies.

Maybe have them all wear price tags so we'll know where all the money is going.

Anonymous said...

3:48, are you sure Tillis supports breaking up the district? As I recall he opposed it back when Larry Gauvreau and some of the other folks in northern Meck were pushing it. I can't imagine it's even on his radar now.

Anonymous said...

I know some of you like to keep the conversation going over the weekend, and I normally log on enough to keep it flowing. But this weekend I have family business that requires my full attention. And while almost all of you do just fine without my supervision, there is a persistent troll who would take advantage of an unfiltered stretch.

So ... log off, enjoy the nice spring weekend and I'll see you Tuesday. I'll post any backlogged comments then -- just send 'em once and be patient.

Anonymous said...

I don't really care about charters. I believe in parent choice. I also believe parents need to live with the choices they have made. If your student is excepted into a character, he or she should not receive special education services from CMS. If your student joins a charter, he or she should not be aloud to play sports for another school because the charter does not offer them.

Anonymous said...

Ann, your earlier post said:

"If low salaries are designed to be punitive or send a "you ought to leave" message, then disclosure could be public humiliation. But that's not the way good performance pay systems are supposed to work. Dismissals, action plans, counseling out -- whatever you want to call it, that process is supposed to be done in a professional and constructive way."

I respectfully disagree. First of all, paying some people more than others for better performance does not imply that an organization is not "professional" or "constructive."

More to the point, good performance pay systems are specifically designed to send a message. Pay your hardest working and most talented employees more than those who are less talented, less motivated or who simply need to improve their skills. It's not that complicated. Paying people more for better performance and less for worse performance / less valued skills is simply the way the world works.

Of course, when some teachers at charters are paid less than others, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're not doing a good job. But salaries matter. To a large degree, salaries are a reflection of how much the charter school values the teacher.

If you start disclosing everyone's salary, you'll be doing a lot more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how many of the teachers that received these hefty raises are connected to Teach for America? It has been my experience that most of the positions were given to TFA reps and seldom were seasoned, tenured teachers considered.

Anonymous said...

Ann, teachers pay and names are in the observer. Why are people acting like its a guessing game?

Larry said...

Someone asks: Why are you supportive of Charter Schools.

Well I could ask you to go to just about any Charter School and ask for a tour.

But the best example I can give is the Charles A Tindley School in Indianapolis.

I will bet not many folks can tell me who Tindley is and why his family started this school.

Discovering that will make you really understand this school. In fact do so and let others know.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was a time Tillis wanted to split the northern part of CMS into it's own seperate school district. Apparently I am mistaken, I do apologise.

interesting news regarding Common Core in our state legislature. This will be really interesting to read what others think about this potential change.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is that teachers DO NOT want the public to know their salaries. It is dreadful to them that students and parents see what they make and know that a 15 year experienced teacher with an advanced masters degree makes less than a truck driver and an assitant manager at Burger King.

The disrespect flows from parent to student in that they have no regard to the teachers knowledge or ability. Only an idiot would work for that salary and benefits.

Anonymous said...

So in oher words, you have absolutely NO experience of your own to justify your support for charter schools. Don't get me wrong, we are all entitled to our own opinions, and that is precisely what you have been providing, an opinion not derived from experience.

Shamash said...

I'll bet Larry's opinions on the death penalty and abortion are not derived from personal experience, either.

Just saying...

Larry said...

Good one Shamash

On Charter Schools and my experiences.

Actually I traveled to see the best and the worst in Charter Schools before I ran for office a few years ago.

And since that research, I have worked with several groups who have either started Charter Schools and/or have applications or plans for Charter Schools.

I have also volunteered with which is a great resource for those of you wishing more information on starting your own Charter School.

And have worked with groups who opened Charter Schools using this group Parents For Educational Freedom NC.

As well as helping get folks for the boards of a few Charter Schools.

My original interest came with a Charter School which was located on Hawthorne Ave in a Church, but funding dried up for them and they went out of educating Children who needed it the most, and were dumped back into the CMS system.

To keep it going we tried to show how the levels of achievement was astounding, but back then, folks did not seemed interested in keeping a Charter School for African American kids in business.

But now that we have the drop out factory of CMS running full steam, folks are finally seeing the investment in Charter Schools over CMS is the way to go.

So thanks for being patient in my getting back to you as you seem to want the full facts and not a person who jumps to what you think with out facts.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate you taking the time to explain yourself further. While I appreciate and respect the fact you worked on the behalf of minority children, unfortunately I believe what you stated is still very much the case today and this is one of my primary concerns about charter schools. In most cases, charters either weed out the poor and underachieving students or exclude them from enrolling. This is generally accomplished by the location of the school. If you don't believe me, reaserch the location of all of the successful charter schools that currently exist in this region.

"but back then, folks did not seemed interested in keeping a Charter School for African American kids in business. "

with the exception of a handful of charters schools in this region, the vast majority of charters schools in this area serve white students, especially the ones who have high academic ratings. There are few charter schools within the Charlotte area who serve primarily African American students. Sugar Creek appears to be best example and is making a difference, but others like, Kennedy K-12 (11.7% proficient) and Crossroads(5% proficient), are woeful with regards to academics. It is also worth noting that another charter that served primarily African American students was recently closed,Student First Academy.

since you clearly have been involved with the charter school movement for many years, I have a question for you regarding academics. If charter schools are so much better at educating children, why are we not incorporating those charter school concepts into the traditional public schools?

Larry said...

I know what you mean, someone could tell me how great CMS is doing and I would not be able to agree, as I have done due diligence in making my decision based on the facts.

Apparently you are seeking a better sales person than I, as you apparently have done some type of research on Charter Schools, and I see Charters in a different light than you are willing to shine on it.

But one last shot:

First, the majority of students in Charter Schools are white, as that is the majority in Mecklenburg County.

The White Community apparently were early adapters, on getting Charter Schools. But I am sure you know that and have your own ideas as to why.

But I have worked with many new start up Charters that will be located in the areas we all can agree we would call challenged.

So maybe you will be happy seeing so many African Americans who are demanding these schools in their neighborhoods, finally getting what they want, and know they need for the future of their Children.

So while I feel you and I will always disagree, I am happy to see the competition for CMS.

Not because the competition is stellar, but the fact that we tried it the CMS way for close to 50 years and the results are dismal.

Larry said...

Oh and incorporation of Charter Ideas and CMS, this story might be of help: