National education and labor news

South Dakota teachers fight bonus pay, no-tenure law

The 7,000-member South Dakota Education Association submitted 30,000 petition signatures seeking a November public vote blocking Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s bill giving bonuses to top teachers and phasing out tenure. Some 16,000 valid signatures were needed to get the referendum on the state ballot.

Teachers in the NEA affiliate argue that the governor’s bonus initiative would stop teacher collaboration by sparking competition for bonus money. They also say that the law ignores the need to boost general state aid to schools while doing nothing to improve student outcomes.

Tenure in state law would be eliminated in July 2016 for any teachers not already covered by the due-process protection.

The bill would give a $5,000 bonus beginning in the 2014-2015 school year to the top 20 percent of teachers in each school district each year, based on a new evaluation system and measurements of student progress. School districts could create their own teacher reward plans or not take part at all.

The plan also gives $2,500 annual rewards beginning in 2014 to math and science teachers who are evaluated as distinguished or proficient.

South Dakota Daily Republic, June 18

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