Archive for the ‘Randi Kirchner’ Category

Oklahoma House Committee Holds Second Hearing on Performance Pay for Oklahoma Teachers

September 12, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 11, 2007) — A Minnesota teachers’ union official told Oklahoma lawmakers Tuesday that a performance pay plan in that state has encouraged collaboration among teachers, and that union members worked with lawmakers and the Minnesota governor to develop the plan.

“We view performance pay as a generational opportunity for our members and for public schools in Minnesota,” said Randi Kirchner, Professional Pay Systems Coordinator with “Education Minnesota,” the teachers’ union in that state. Kirchner’s testimony was part of a hearing on performance pay held by the House Education Committee. The hearing was the second in a series of five hearings that will run through Oct. 9. (Click here for audio)

In addition to Kirchner’s testimony, lawmakers heard supportive and positive testimony from officials with Professional Oklahoma Educators and others.

“I was encouraged by the support we heard today from teachers, administrators and school board members,” said Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah. “In particular, the Minnesota example shows the willingness of teachers to embrace performance pay reforms.”

“Oklahoma has literally spent tens of billions of dollars on education over the past few decades, with essentially the same pay system in place for teachers for a century,” continued Cargill. “We’ve practiced the politics of ‘the impossible’ for 100 years. Now it’s time to move forward with practical reforms and the politics of ‘the possible.’ Our kids deserve nothing less.”

Cargill also pointed to testimony from Professional Oklahoma Educators officials, which conducted a survey of its members that showed strong support for performance pay. Nearly 70 percent of the 750 Oklahoma teachers from across the state in the survey prefer some form of performance pay system, said Ginger Tinney, POE Executive Director.

“Teachers feel they should earn more if they do better work,” said Tinney.

According to Tinney, a Fort Gibson teacher summed up many teachers’ sentiments when she wrote, “I’m tired of working hard and watching mediocrity getting the same pay.” (Click here for audio)

Cargill said he was encouraged by Tuesday’s hearing.

“Performance pay just makes sense,” Cargill said.” There are some who seem to believe there can be no accountability before there is more money. But most Oklahomans don’t see it as an either, or choice. They want high investment in education and accountability. There shouldn’t be a false choice between pay raises and reforms. We can have both. Oklahomans deserve both.”

House Education Committee Chairman Tad Jones, who chaired Tuesday’s hearing, said he felt it began to lay the groundwork for a fair and effective performance pay system for Oklahoma teachers.

“Oklahomans support the common-sense idea that teachers are professionals and should be paid like professionals,” said Jones, R-Claremore. “Good teachers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work.”

Cargill, Jones and House Republican lawmakers first signaled they would pursue a comprehensive performance-based pay system for Oklahoma teachers after lawmakers completed a $4,800 pay raise commitment for teachers over the past three years. Part of this year’s state budget agreement included an additional $400 on top of an already-agreed to $600 pay raise – with the additional funds weighted toward veteran teachers or those with advanced degrees.