Education in the Media
Federal Merit Pay Program to Reward Teachers Across N.J.September 28, 2012
kewood, Hillside and North Plainfield will be among the first in the state to earn federally financed merit pay, a spokesman from the U.S. Department of Education said.
In partnership with the four low-income districts, Rutgers University will distribute $39.7 million over five years through the department’s Teacher Innovation Fund to bolster educator recruitment, evaluation and rewards systems.
It is not yet known how much an individual district or teacher might receive.
Gov. Chris Christie supports the idea of merit pay for the best teachers, but a bill allowing its distribution has stalled in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, opposes merit pay.
"Our best teachers and principals are invaluable leaders in changing life outcomes for students," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "They are desperately needed in our struggling schools and they deserve to be recognized and rewarded."
Rutgers University could not be reached for comment about what proportion of the grant money will be used to strengthen the district’s evaluation systems verses the amount that will fund the performance-based bonuses.
The New Jersey Department of Education is piloting a teacher evaluation system now that will be rolled out statewide by fall 2013.
The fund also awarded $9.5 million over five years to the New York based Center for Educational Innovation to identify and reward the best teachers in five South Jersey charter schools.
Also, high-performing teachers were not the only New Jersey educators awarded federal funds. National charter school chains Democracy Prep and KIPP received a total of $14.4 million to start or expand schools in New Jersey and other communities across the country.
KIPP has partnered with TEAM Academy to run two elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school in Newark.
However, a spokesman for the state Department of Education could not confirm that Democracy Prep runs any charter schools in New Jersey.