Tuesday, July 5, 2011

COURAGE! Ogden School District Goes Performance Pay

In a courageous step, the Ogden City School District has contractually initiated a paradigm shift in teacher compensation toward performance pay.   This is a first-of-its-kind move and I believe warrants public support. 

Teachers who wish to stay and renew their contract with the Ogden School District under this new paradigm can do so by July 20th.  Here is a copy of the letter issued by the district:

For the facts, here is a video of Superintendent Zabriskie speaking to the Standard Examiner editorial board:   

It is quite remarkable to hear the reaction from the union chiefs at the Ogden Education Association.  The recent Standard Examiner article on this issue contains some interesting quotes:

Doug Stephens, president of the Ogden Education Association, one of the organizations representing teachers in negotiations, said he is shocked.
“It is unprecedented in the state of Utah,” Stephens said. “It’s crazy. No school district or school board has ever done this before. This is a horrible thing.”

Well, even Christopher Columbus had his skeptics.  He goes on:

"So the NEA, President Obama and Congress have all been trying to figure out a fair system of performance pay, and no one has been able to come up with a system that is equitable, but a few board members and administrators in Ogden just magically have the answers?” Stephens said.
“There’s going to be a mass exodus of quality teachers, and they may not be replaced with the same kind of exceptional teachers that can change a kid’s whole outlook and make him feel better about himself,” he said.
“We are losing teachers right now, over the summer. Teachers are not going to stay in a district when they can get paid $3,000 or $4,000 (more) in another district.”
Stephens said there is a false impression, created by the media, that teachers and their representative groups are greedy. He said Ogden School District teachers have not asked for a raise in recent years and have gone without step increases for three years straight.

Note To Self:  If President Obama and Congress can't get something done, then it's certainly not worth doing and it should never be thought of or tried by anyone else.

Tangential thoughts: Is it our public schools' job to teach self esteem?  Or is it to prepare for higher education and the job market?  Does self esteem come before or after being educated with the proper skills?  Where does a parent's responsibility end and the school district's begin?

Additionally, is Ogden School district really going to have trouble finding folks when they put a "Now Hiring" sign on the front lawn?  Granted, not every person can be a teacher but I am sure there are qualified folks out there who will jump at the opportunity.  Looking for a job now? Here is a list of job opportunities currently.  

Also, in regards to "step increases" (or "pay raises" as the private sector calls them) I am sure most of the taxpayers in our state have not recieved a pay raise in the last three years.

Yet, do we need to pay teachers more?  I believe we do.  However, we need to do it with the money that we have.  It's remarkable that teacher salaries were preserved at their current levels despite the severe contraction in tax revenues during the past several years.  Let's be grateful for what we have.

My hat is off to the Superintendent and the School Board for their willingness to innovate and work for change in the School District.  They have shown leadership and they have my support as I hope they do yours.


  1. Jeremy,

    Your ignorance on this issue is deplorable. As a representative in the Ogden area you need to understand that people are ultimately in control and not government. Similarly, if any school district, here or anywhere, goes above the voice of teachers this will wreak havoc for them down the road despite how right an administrator or representative feels on the issue.

  2. Austin,

    A couple questions and thoughts:

    1. Isn't the school board the voice of the people since they are elected directly by them?

    2. If the school board operates contrary to the majority will of the people, they will be replaced. The same applies to myself and my representation.

    3. How do we know havoc will be wreaked? Do we have previous examples? If so, where? When?

    4. We will see how right this choice was in six years. Lets keep our heads up, our pens in hand, and our note pads close by so we can learn from this experience we are going to have as a community.


Welcome! Your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated. Criticism, insights, questions and queries are always welcome. However, please be civil and composed in your presentation. I moderate comments, so be patient while waiting for your comment to appear. Debate is welcome, trolling is not.