“Despite raises, MontCo’s achievement gap persists”

MCTL Board Member Gordon Brenne had a letter to the editor published in The Washington Examiner of September 27, 2012:

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr recently said he wants to focus on the achievement gap and community engagement.  Last spring, he said his record budget request was “bare bones” and then gave all teachers two pay raises.  Before that, our teachers were paid 15 to 20 percent more than Howard and Fairfax County teachers, but this hasn’t bought us superior academic performance.

The money for raises went disproportionately to teachers in wealthier (green zone) schools, where our school-by-school analysis showed there is no correlation between pay and performance.  Teachers in our higher-poverty (red zone) schools are paid on average 4 percent less.

Since the red zone is where the achievement gap lives, why don’t we pay red zone teachers more for taking career risks to tackle the achievement gap?  Wouldn’t this attract the best principals and teachers to schools that need the most help?  Why doesn’t the strategic plan detail intervention strategies and link to the budget?

Now what?   Can we expect innovative academic strategies?  As for community engagement, the superintendent has declined to meet with us.

Gordie Brenne

Board member, Montgomery County Taxpayers League