Merit pay expansion? 

Merit pay

We apparently haven’t heard the last of “merit pay,” or compensating school teachers based on performance measures, in the Little Rock School District.

It was recently disclosed, after complaints about secrecy from this newspaper, that Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman underwrote a $145,000 bonus plan for teachers at Meadowcliff primary school last year, the money distributed according to how their students did on national standardized tests. The school district is paying to continue the program this year and Hussman has offered to pay to expand the experiment to Wakefield school as well.

The teachers union has been resistant to such pay plans. Such bonus plans have resulted in cheating in some districts; some experts question the wisdom of tying pay to standardized tests, and teachers fear administrators’ favoritism in bonus pay schemes. Also, as it stands, teachers administer tests whose results help determine their pay.

A rumor circulated last week that a donor associated with the Walton fortune was prepared to under

Something is up

Little Rock School Superintendent Roy Brooks says “there is no existing proposal for any broad merit pay proposal” in his district. But, he added, “We would like to talk to anyone who’d like to help provide financial support.”

We pressed. Has he talked to anyone? “We have had a conversation with someone regarding exploring it as a possibility.” He said the talk didn’t narrow the focus, at this point, to strictly elementary schools.

Who has he talked with? “I can’t say.”

If the plan goes forward, would the school board make the decision? (It had no official role in the Hussman experiments, which weren’t publicly announced and which were implemented in violation of a union work contract that specified a school vote before a bonus pay plan could begin.)

“This is something we would not do without board authority,” he said.

Brooks made it clear that he’s working hard on bonus pay. “We have to look at determining alternate ways to compensate teachers. Businesses do it all the time. There’s nothing wrong with looking at it.”

Something in the air

This can only be described as second-hand, though from a reliable source. A report is circulating that Gov. Mike Huckabee has told legislators that he might add so-called clean air legislation to the agenda if and when a special legislative session is held on public education. Previously, Huckabee, though an advocate of healthier lifestyles, has refused to throw his diminished weight behind measures to restrict smoking in restaurants and the workplace. Legislation that died last session would do that. Polls show the idea enjoys wide public support. Huckabee’s switch to this position, though courageous in the face of the powerful tobacco and restaurant lobbies, would be popular with the public (voters) and not considered harmful to a health-advocating presidential candidate.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in The Insider

  • All in the family

    Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • 'Circuit breaker' legal

    When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • Church goes to school in Conway

    An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
    • Jan 23, 2013
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Taking on trainers

    As our legislators return to work this week, they will take up House Bill 1040, preventing athletic trainers from practicing in nonclinical settings and severely restricting what they can do to provide assistance to students.
  • Plant of the year

    The legalization of medical marijuana was Arkansas's most significant news of 2016.
  • Racism, materialism and militarism

    And more power for the House Speaker.
  • Profile of a plant

    What science does and doesn't tell us about the health benefits of cannabis.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 7 years. A couple of months ago…

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • There is plenty of studies out there, which fill in the holes in this story…

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Plant of the year

    • The only dope I see in this is that Kleiman, talking about things he is…

    • on January 19, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation