San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) April 2, 2009
New ways of compensating teachers in an era of ferocious budget shortfalls were the topic of discussion for about 400 school superintendents, leaders of teacher organizations and school board members from across California at conferences Monday and Tuesday (March 30-31) in Oakland and Los Angeles.
The programs were in response to encouragement from President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for educators to experiment with new ways to pay teachers, and to a wide range of experimental approaches already being implemented - such as a recent voter-approved parcel tax in San Francisco to fund innovations in teacher compensation.
The events were organized by Full Circle Fund, an engaged philanthropy organization in the San Francisco Bay Area and by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a nonpartisan and independent research center based at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Southern California (USC) and Stanford University.
"The goal of the conference was to provide school districts and local unions with solid information and shared understanding about what's happening in compensation policy across the country, and what's possible in California," said David Plank, executive director of PACE. "Many districts are sending teams that include both administrators and union officials. These local leaders are ready to begin a conversation about how teachers are paid and how we might pay them differently, and this conference can help them get started."
In an address before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on March 10, President Obama applauded teachers and noted the importance of their preparation and retention. He said that's why his administration supports "creating new pathways to teaching and new incentives to bring teachers to schools where they're needed most. That's why we support offering extra pay to Americans who teach math and science to end a teacher shortage in those subjects."
The recently passed economic stimulus bill includes $200 million to fund innovative pay plans in up to 150 school districts across the country, via the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). "California is rightly known as a center of innovation in many fields," said Jeff Camp, who heads up the Education Circle at Full Circle Fund, "but we're way behind the curve on teacher pay. The new TIF money gives California a chance to take the lead on this critical issue."
"The potential benefits from this kind of innovation are huge," said Andy Ball, president and CEO of Webcor Builders, and head of the Education Committee at the Bay Area Council. "California businesses and other taxpayers should strongly support districts that innovate by directing additional pay to the teachers that can make the biggest difference for kids."
Some of the conferences' speakers were:
--Brad Jupp, senior policy advisor for Denver Public Schools and a leader in labor-management negotiations that led to adoption of a pay-for-performance system for Denver teachers
--Representatives of school districts participating in the Teacher Advancement Program, which enables teachers to become a master or mentor teacher in order to earn higher salaries and advance professionally
--Dan Katzir from the Broad Foundation, who will speak about philanthropic support for new thinking about teacher pay
--San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia and United Educators of San Francisco President Dennis Kelly, talking about a recently approved parcel tax that will fund innovations in teacher compensation
Others in attendance at the conferences included Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ray Cortines, California Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles) and a representative of the U.S. Department of Education.
The Oakland conference was held on Monday (March 30) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Marriot City Center, 1001 Broadway. The Los Angeles program was on Tuesday (March 31) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the USC Davidson Executive Conference Center, 3415 S. Figueroa St.
More details about the events and the sponsoring organizations are available on the PACE and Full Circle Fund web sites at:
The conferences were co-sponsored by teachers unions, professional associations, and business organizations around the state including the Association of California School Administrators, Bay Area Council, California Federation of Teachers, California School Board Association, California Teachers Association, San Diego Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Unite-LA.
Financial support for the programs comes from the Noyce Foundation and the Stuart Foundation.