Laura McKenna at the Atlantic (hat tip: Hannah J. Waters, one of the kinder) ponders the Newark Teachers Union’s approval of a new contract that includes merit pay, due in part to the surprisingly warm relations between Joseph Del Grosso, head of NTU (an AFT affiliate), and the “Commander-in-Fleece,” Gov. Chris Christie. Remarks McKenna, “The N[J]EA, the other major teachers union, continues to fight these measures, which makes a state-wide plan unlikely. Yet, the AFT worked jointly with the Governor to create this plan.” She continues,
According to Jeff Henig, a professor of political science and education at Columbia's Teachers College, the merit pay program in Newark is a sign of the political weakness of teachers' unions. The AFT, which is more nimble and politically savvy than the NEA, has recognized that they must show that unions are not in the business of supporting bad teachers or opposing innovation. [Harry] Brighouse, [a professor of philosophy and education policy studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison] also noted that the AFT, more than the NEA, is responding to the increasing pressure to do things differently.
Henig said, "local teachers unions with the blessing of the AFT are softening their rigid objection to some kinds of merit pay and some incorporation of student outcomes rather than risk that this will happen without them at the table."