Count on a piece by StudentsFirst, published here in the Rupert Murdoch-owned NY Post (according to Steve Brill, Murdoch is a big backer of SF - it's probably much easier to control the narrative when you control both the message and the messenger) to misrepresent what happened in Newark.
The Newark contract calls for bonuses, but there is no mechanism for determining who will get them. Inevitably, the system will rely at least, in part, on student tests scores; because this method is so prone to error, many teachers who deserved the bonuses will not get them. There's also a severe danger of using observations in a way that gives them phony precision, simply to meet the needs of the merit pay system.
Further, the Newark contract does not "end" the use of longevity in compensation: pay scales are used in both tracks of the contract, and one track for teachers with advanced degrees will still grant pay solely on seniority and degrees earned.
The notion that merit pay won't drive test cores is a complete fantasy. Reports from around the country on current merit pay and test-based evaluation systems clearly predict test scores will become the focus of instruction in Newark. It's only logical: teachers teach the test when the test tests teachers. Besides, we all know that believing in merit pay is like believing in fairies.
And this "most valuable teachers" nonsense has got to stop; ALL teachers are valuable. Any idea that we can identify the "irreplaceables" with any sort of precision is demonstrably untrue. Teachers who take the hardest students are the ones who will pay the price under this line of thinking.
Finally: the Newark contract is only possible through the use of private monies (specifically, Mark Zuckerberg's grant to Newark's schools). This is a one-shot deal; this contract can't be replicated unless you can get another big pile of private money for merit pay bonuses. And there's no guarantee the money will be there in a few years anyway; that's what happened in Washington, D.C. under Michelle Rhee.
Given all this, it's clear that the Newark contract is not a model for the rest of the country. But StudentsFirst doesn't want you think about any of this:
If SF had bothered to actually to look at the results of Chicago's school closing policy - started under our current SecEd, Arne Duncan - they would have found that it has been a failure. No surprise: New York's school closing strategy under Michael Bloomberg has also been a disaster.
The solution to "failing" schools isn't closing them; it's fixing them. Unfortunately, the privatizers don't have the time or will to gather the resources necessary for a comprehensive, broad-based education reform plan (those plans have the added disadvantage of gaining teachers union support, which looks bad politically for many of these folks).
Folks like this say they want collaboration - but they only want it on their terms. They want unions that are compliant and docile. They don't want anyone pointing out that their schemes don't work, aren't working, and have never worked. They want a labor movement that acquiesces to their demands, no matter how detrimental they are to teachers, students, or families.
They didn't get that in Chicago, and it drives them crazy. They live in terror that Chicago is the future of teachers unions - not Newark.
Let's make sure we work to make their nightmares come true.