Arkansas

FROM THE EDITOR: “Pay attention”

 

Incentive: (noun) a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something.

A good classroom teacher leads to success in that classroom. A good principal in an office building leads to success in school. And we would guess that a great superintendent at district headquarters leads to success throughout the district.

And every day there is more and more hope for the Little Rock School District.

The school board seems to be doing an outstanding job. One of the best decisions the board of directors has made recently is to hire Jermall Wright. The Superintendent keeps making the news for the best of reasons.

LRSD leaders are exploring the possibility of retention and incentive payments, according to the organization’s news section, with more money going to those who work in the toughest schools. Teachers will receive incentive payments. Leaders will receive incentive payments. The money for the first year for the extra salary (which may be received in the next school year) will come from federal coronavirus funds.

The plan looks like this: directors will be given three-year contracts to help retain employees. Teachers at the school could then receive up to $6,500 in incentive pay, depending on the school. Less money will be allocated to teachers in less challenging schools. Executives could receive up to 10,000. We refer you to Cynthia Howell’s story in the Monday paper.

“No matter how many programs we acquire and how many programs we introduce into schools,” Superintendent Wright said, “the most important thing we can focus our efforts and attention on is hiring a highly qualified teacher.” in every classroom and having a highly effective pedagogical and organizational leader in all of our schools.

“All of our work in this plan is about developing the people that we have or recruiting other people in our district who can help us get the ball rolling,” he said, adding that in order for the district to Little Rock has been a viable school system, 30 percent of third graders reading at grade level should at least double over the next few years.

This is remarkable on several levels. As in, someone should notice.

It’s a sign that Little Rock’s school leaders understand that people respond to incentives. In education, this should not be sneeze. Far too many in the educational bureaucracy—not just in Little Rock, but everywhere—have opposed incentive payments in the past because they demanded a general raise instead. After all, inept teachers also pay union dues.

The incentive works. At least it’s motivating. This is part of the definition of the word.

According to our report, there was a discussion about whether what is being offered is merit pay. Superintendent Wright says that’s not the case, as he defines meritorious pay as money going to individual teachers. His proposal applies to all teachers in the school, as performance is measured from year to year. Making this distinction can make it easier to accept the plan. Or maybe the phrase “pay according to merit” is non-political.

Whatever made them survive the night. The mere fact that this proposal comes from the school system and meets with universal attention is enough to make the reformers sing.

Someone take notes: if this is the start of something good in Little Rock, other school districts might want to copy and paste.

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