More money for HISD teachers

January 9, 2008 6:41:28 PM PST
More money will soon be in the pockets of HISD teachers -- the district says it's a "green" pat on the back for a job well down. However, not everyone is happy about it. The frustrating emails have been in a constant flow to the offices of the Houston Federation of Teachers union. Union president Gayle Fallon, who fought against the bonus plan last year, is this year as defiant as ever.

"Well, it's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, because it's conceptually wrong," she said. "Conceptually it was not something the teachers accepted. It was something they resented and was divisive, and still is."

Starting today, teachers will find out how much in bonus money they earned over the last school year. The amount is based on student test scores and student academic growth. The district calculates amounts for each of their over 12,000 teachers.

Top HISD teacher bonuses are large. Teachers can earn up to $7,300. However, the district says the average bonus is about $1,800.

The bonuses are paid from a mix of local and federal dollars. About $25 million are available this year -- an increase in $15 million.

HISD Spokesperson Terry Abbott explained, "So, now the new system rewards not only individual teaching efforts but also team teaching efforts. We put a special strand in there just for that."

The change was the result of complaints from the union who accused the district of not rewarding teachers who work in teams. Yet, for all the changes HISD made this year to their bonus program, the union remains unsatisfied.

Fallon said, "Everyone forgets that programs like this, what you really want, you want to build a good team on campus and this isn't a team builder."

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