Dallas Black Blog

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Merit Pay For Teachers Goes To Affluent Schools

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SENTINEL SPECIAL REPORT

September 9, 2007

At Palm Lake Elementary, two out of three teachers earned a bonus through Orange County Public Schools’ merit-pay plan.

At Richmond Heights Elementary, the number was zero.

Palm Lake is a predominantly white school in the affluent Dr. Phillips area.

Richmond Heights is a predominantly black school in a poverty-stricken pocket of Orlando.

The two schools illustrate a marked disparity in the distribution of merit bonuses to 3,911 Orange County teachers and administrators uncovered in an Orlando Sentinel analysis of the program.

The Sentinel’s review showed that teachers at predominantly white and affluent schools were twice as likely to get a bonus as teachers from schools that are predominantly black and poor.

It wasn’t supposed to work that way.

Florida education officials promised that imbalances along racial or income lines would not happen under the state’s beleaguered and now-defunct merit-pay program known as Special Teachers Are Rewarded, or STAR. Officials said the best teachers could win a bonus no matter where they worked or what they taught.

“It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in the system,” said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman with the Florida Education Association, a teachers union.

Among the Sentinel’s findings:

At Orange County’s 39 predominantly white schools, an average of 27 teachers per school won bonuses. Only two of those schools had a majority of students getting free or reduced-price lunches, an indicator of low-income.

At the 38 predominately black schools, an average of 13 teachers per school won. All of those schools had a majority of students receiving subsidized lunches.

At the 31 schools with a mostly Hispanic population, an average of 20 teachers per school got bonuses. Only three were low-income schools.

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