Teacher’s Unions Square Off With AP Incentives
Mass Insight seems to do a great job at stirring up teacher’s unions on the East Coast. I just read another article in The Salem News about how the Peabody Federation of Teachers is worried about how Mass Insight’s grant will be implemented at Peabody High School.
Mass Insight’s Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative supplies funds to provide training and reward students and teachers for great scores on Math, Science and English AP exams. Here’s an excerpt from their website:
The goal of the initiative is to increase student enrollment in mathematics, science and English AP courses, as well as to improve student performance as reflected by an increase in the number of qualifying scores (3, 4 or 5 on a 1 to 5 scale). The program will provide extensive training for AP and Pre-AP teachers, establish AP lead teachers, demand additional student preparation, and provide performance-based financial awards for students and teachers. Under the leadership of Morton Orlov II, who is the President of the Mass Math & Science Initiative in Massachusetts, up to fifteen additional high schools will be selected through a competitive process to participate in the program during the 2009-2010 school year, with the goal of implementing the program in 90 high schools by 2013.
It seems like a successful program that was started initially by Exxon Mobil and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There is a training piece for teachers as well as rewards for both students and teachers. This is where the unions get their hackles up. It appears that the teacher’s unions oppose the rewards for teachers as they view this as merit pay, and teacher’s unions definitely oppose merit pay.
Advanced Placement classes typically take more energy to teach as there is often more grading and preparation than other classes. It is a misconception that teachers all want to teach AP classes and nobody wants to teach the other classes. When I was teaching I did not find this to be the case. Most teachers understand the extra work that is involved in teach AP courses. Many also understand that there are added challenges in teaching the driven students, just as there are challenges on the other end of the spectrum. Most AP students parents are very involved in their student’s education. This is often a good thing, but can also be a problem. These parents require constant communication and are constantly questioning the teacher. For many teachers, it is just not worth it. There is also the added work of the AP Audit, a relatively new process implemented by the College Board.
So why are teacher’s unions opposed to outside organizations or grants supplying funds for training and stipends for success? Perhaps they want everyone to get paid the same, whether they are good or bad, work hard or are lazy. Unfortunately, this union mindset gives teachers a bad name. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good things the unions do, but things like this do not help the public perception of the profession.
The goal of the initiative is to get different students to consider AP courses. This is a good thing and works towards greater diversity in the AP classes and increased success in college. Obviously if the demand for AP classes rises there will need to be more AP teachers. This initiative funds training and incentives for teachers to take on the challenge of AP courses. Schools and teacher’s unions need to welcome this outside support, especially in times of deep budget cuts.