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Sunday, April 29, 2012

School Consultants Say Link Teacher Pay To Student Performance

$6 Million Nexus Partners Lets Their Bigotry Show

It's official: the Emery Unified School District thinks we need to bust the Teacher's Union and strongly consider tying teacher's pay to student academic achievement.   Oh, and never mind the fact that child poverty has been proven beyond a doubt to negatively effect their academic achievement.   
The anti-teacher message can be found at the Emeryville Center of Community Life blog and an entry about Education Secretary Arne Duncan posted by Nexus Partners, the moderators of the website.  Perhaps it should be further pointed out that we, the Emeryville taxpayers paid $6 million for the Nexus Partners' expertise to, among other things, allow us to hear this missive about teacher pay and academic achievement.

The toxic message about busting the union and holding teachers responsible for their student's parent's income comes courtesy of this group the Nexus Partners, the architecture / city planning consortium of  firms that the School Board hired several years ago to push forward the Center of Community Life.  That in mind, the Emery Unified School District also, is responsible, by extension, for this outrageous anti-teacher message.  
The Nexus Partners thinks Emeryville is best served by forwarding the anti-teacher message without any counter message in support of teachers, it should be noted.

It's hard to know where to refute this absurdity, but a good place to start is the idea that tying teacher pay to academic performance will somehow work to improve academic performance.  A good analogy is the idea that we should tie police pay to crime rates to  bring down crime, something the Emeryville Chief of Police Ken James said would bring the opposite results.

The teacher pay thing is especially egregious for a School District to float since not only does it bear no allegiance to reality, one only needs to consider the downward spiral  it would engender: As the pay rate goes down, down goes the ability to attract good teachers to the district, creating a negative feedback loop.  Plus it runs roughshod over the truism that children raised in poverty, a high percentage of Emery's demographic it must be noted, are scholastically disadvantaged from the start.

We are so tired of all the right wing attacks on teachers the last few years.  Why, precisely should teachers be held accountable for their students' disadvantaged home life?  Why is it teachers are expected now to solve the problems of poverty and student learning; that intractable problem of disadvantaged children's inherent disadvantaged academic achievement?  Are there any other fields where the workers are expected to produce results for things outside their control?  How about if we started blaming soldiers on the field of battle for how the war is going?  Instead of looking to the top brass, let's blame the soldiers.  How about if we dock their pay if the war starts going badly?

We have to ask, why would a school district, entrusted with children's educational welfare be enabling such an obviously false and disruptive narrative as tying teacher pay to academic performance?  The district has known about their consultants, the Nexus Partner's posting of this anti-teacher, anti-student piece of nastiness since it's inception but they have done nothing to remove it.  At this point we have to assume it meets with the District's approval.  
This has not been a worthwhile spending of $6 million of taxpayer's money, to put it mildly.  How about if we get a little pro-teacher, pro-children message for that substantial sum of money?

Friday May 4, 2012
The Nexus Partners have been revealed to be a consortium of three architecture / city planning firms plus the Emery School District.  Nexus Partners exists exclusively to forward the Center of Community Life and there is no web presence associated with the partners.  

Nexus Partners made changes to their blog and as of today, readers may now read the 'teacher pay' article for free.

The architecture/ city planning firms that comprise Nexus Partners are: mkThinkdsk architects, and Concordia.


  1. I respectfully disagree.

    1. Disagree? With what? Disagree with the school board's wisdom of paying $6 million to Nexus Partners?

  2. There is so much that needs to happen before children even reach school age to prepare them for an academic life to come. Most of it has to do with: a healthy social-emotional start, living in an environment that is rich in expansive language, literature, and a life with minimum stress, which includes having enough food to eat.
    Most countries that are successful with education have a strength-based approach, including waiting until children are approximately seven before formal education begins. The children are academically ready and have not been given messages that they are already failing. Nationwide we are told that children are not reaching the benchmarks set for them. Maybe we need to rethink the benchmarks and start teaching the way Dewey, Garden, Bruner, Forman, Malaguzzi,Freire, Piaget and Vygotsky taught us how to teach. We know what great teaching can happen. Teachers need support and not asked to do the impossible. Children are full of wonderful ideas, listen! We all learn in meaningful contexts.
    Ruth Major

  3. Forget their conclusions and analysis. How could we possibly spend $6 MILLION?

    Not $60,000.

    Not even $600,000

    Not even $1 MM.

    SIX million?


  4. Count on more anti-teacher, anti-union branding from EUSD. The new sup's intention is to award fat contracts on the backs of our students and teachers. We have been holding teachers accountable for test scores and overall student performance in some form or fashion, for years. Some students live in challenging environments that keep them focused solely on daily survival, not test scores.

    Why can't we hold administrators accountable for student achievement and test scores? They are responsible for decisions regarding curriculum, budgetary decisions that cut classroom materials, organizing professional development, etc. All of which impacts student learning. Perhaps, we need a more egalitarian approach where administrators are paid slightly above teacher pay, so we know they are committed to the job. Also, the savings in salaries could go directly into the classroom.
    $6 million --- EUSD always pays a great deal for nothing noteworthy!!!

  5. Good idea. Why not do this everywhere--like link doctors pay to how well their patients do. Link bank execs pay to how well their customers stay out of debt. Pleeeze. At some point, great teachers only have so much to work with, and the poor test scores fall squarely on the students and their parents. Maybe the reason they are failing is not teachers, rather the system is failing today's society. Kids would do better if they had hope of putting their education to use.