Joe Robertson of The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City, Missouri school district has received $13.6 million in federal grant money through a program designed to place high-performing teachers in low-performing schools. Hogan Preparatory Academy also received a grant, totaling $607,000.
With the obvious qualification that it would be better if this money had never gone to Washington, D.C. in the first place, incentive programs like this one would seem to be a sensible part of broader education reform efforts. Obviously, it’s a boon to the LEAs (local education agency) involved.
It’s an interesting thing, though. Is the KC school district acknowledging that there is such a thing as a difference between teachers? That not all teachers are equal, and what’s more, that the district can distinguish between them?
By accepting this grant, it would seem they are saying exactly that. Presumably everyone would agree that good teaching matters. Now, the district acknowledges that some teachers are more effective than others, and that the difference is discernible. Together, these facts beg the question: why not a broader system of performance pay?
I’d be interested to see what the union position on these Teacher Incentive Fund grants are. It seems like they are the only actor within the system who will not acknowledge, let alone point to, more effective and less effective teaching whenever that contrast may exist.
Side note: I remember when “Hogan Preparatory Academy” was “Bishop Hogan Preparatory Academy, but I did not see any mention of that on the school website. It is now a charter school operated with oversight from the University of Central Missouri. Its mission statement does retain a reference to a “values-based” education.