Teacher Incentives Bill

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, a Democrat in Union, has introduced a two-bill package that would pay teachers more to work in low-performing school districts. From the press release:
Skilled teachers are the fundamental building blocks of ensuring a quality education, but the unfortunate reality is that low-performing schools are unable to attract new qualified teachers into its workforce.
The first bill, labeled the WIN Act, would give new teachers an annual $5,000 income tax credit to teach in chronically failing schools. The second bill would require the teachers to sign a five-year contract, which would also benefit them by requiring the State to pay back 10% of their student loans in each of those five years.

The bills are right in step with Acting Comm. Cerf’s tenure proposal, which includes monetary incentives for teachers willing to teach in high-poverty school districts. In the draft bill, schools are deemed eligible for the new teacher incentives by having 40% of students fail the math and language arts portion of state assessments, or if 65% of students fail one of the two standardized tests.

How will NJEA execs respond to this form of merit pay? Adamantly opposed to tying student test scores to teaching evaluations, their resistance to this sort of incentive is far softer: NJEA President Barbara Keshishian notes that “NJEA believes in rewarding teachers for taking on additional roles and responsibilities, and for showing educational leadership." However, look for high dudgeon at the restriction of incentives to new teachers instead of any teacher willing to tackle more difficult populations than those commonly found in suburban districts.

Perhaps this is a rare instance of a potential compromise: retain the $5K incentive, open it to all teachers, and maintain the college debt relief.