Governor Susanna Martinez announced a new program yesterday offering some New Mexico teachers an extra $5,000 if they agree to work in a struggling school or increase the number of students passing advanced placement courses.
The stipends will be awarded to about 100 teachers who agree to move from a school with an A or B grade to one with a D or F. An additional 300 teachers instructing Advanced Placement classes will also be eligible for the incentive.
But critics of the initiative say the plan does little to benefit New Mexico’s students and teachers. Ellen Bernstein is the president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. She says programs like this only make for good headlines and has not been shown to improve student achievement.
"So for example if a teacher in an A school, when the grading system is so arbitrary and unproven, moves to an F school, it’s not necessarily going to produce different results. It’s just going to shake up that school community which is actually detrimental to the students."
Public Education Secretary, Hannah Skandera, disagrees, adding that teachers are important change agents for students "and to think that they’re not" she says "is a miss hit, and certainly, to think that we shouldn’t acknowledge that and provide an incentive when we see great teaching would be really disappointing."
Teachers who choose to take part in the program must remain at their new school for at least 2 years to stay eligible for the stipends.