Keeping Teachers Well-Informed

Published March 1, 2006

While the Houston Federation of Teachers, a local teacher union, claims teachers want higher base pay instead of merit bonuses, some teachers are pleased with the Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) new plan, as well as how the district developed it.

Monica Ramirez, a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Anderson Elementary, said while the new program has some unknown elements, teachers are “excited that excellent teachers are going to receive a bonus for the first time. HISD has taken risks, has been innovative, and has believed in change.”

While developing the plan, the district kept teachers informed through intra-school emails and invited their comments. Teachers appreciated that, Ramirez said. They also appreciated the fact that the board was willing to look at teacher pay differently. “Everything is continuously changing around us; school districts cannot live in the past,” Ramirez said. “We need to have strong leaders that build stronger leaders for the future.”

HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra agreed.

“If we are going to continue to improve academic achievement, we must change the way we compensate teachers,” Saavedra said. “We cannot continue to pay every teacher the same based solely on how many years they have been on the job and regardless of what kind of job they do in the classroom.

“The new pay program comes after years of strong commitment by HISD to raise the base salaries of teachers,” Saavedra continued. “Teacher base pay has increased by 36 percent over the last seven years,” he noted, adding the new plan “does not erase the need for across-the-board increases in base pay.”

— Connie Sadowski