Promised Base Pay before Merit Pay
OKC – The Oklahoma Education Association was both encouraged and concerned with Speaker Lance Cargill’s announcement yesterday of his plans for a merit pay system for Oklahoma teachers.
“We have always said we are open to discussing merit pay if it is available to all teachers and is fair and properly funded,” said OEA President Roy Bishop. “But before we do anything like that, we have to get our base pay right.
“Governor Henry got it right yesterday when he announced a plan to give teachers an average $1,200 to get Oklahoma teachers to the regional average. The governor and the legislature made a promise four years ago to raise teacher pay to the regional average by 2008, and he is making good on that promise.”
The OEA has a long history of taking a pro-active look at alternative pay plans, including the Association’s proposed Accomplished Teacher Project in 2002, a proposal that did not receive legislative funding. Last April, OEA members approved a list of principles they believe are needed in any proposed pay-for-performance plan. The Association was excited to hear many of those principles repeated in the speaker’s proposal.
“As for Speaker Cargill’s plan, we are encouraged that it requires teacher input into the development of the local plan, includes a professional development component, and allows for both teachers and support professionals to qualify for any proposed performance pay,” Bishop said.
However, Bishop was quick to point out that the Speaker’s plan would be very expensive to districts already strapped for funding. The speaker’s plan has no funding source identified. One of our OEA performance pay principles is local districts should not be burdened with additional cost. We cannot support a plan that might add more unfunded mandates on school budgets. Bishop reiterated OEA’s call to “keep the promise” of getting Oklahoma teacher pay to the regional average before implementing any alternative pay plans.