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Via: charlotteobserver.com

Two days before Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Peter Gorman publicly pitched his reform vision for the next five years, he summoned a small group of teachers for a sneak preview.

Mary McCray, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, was among them. She listened with mixed feelings as Gorman touted districtwide performance pay as a way to transform teaching and jump-start student success.

She shares his passion for creating a culture where creative, successful teachers are supported and rewarded.

But she doesn’t believe either the district or the state will put up the money to sustain such a venture. Both have a record of launching rewards for successful teachers, then letting them fade when grants or temporary infusions of government money run out.

“It’s very disheartening to get this extra income for a couple of years and then to have it yanked out from under you,” says McCray, who taught in several CMS elementary schools before she became the full-time leader of her professional organization – a National Education Association affiliate that is the closest thing to a teachers union in a right-to-work state.

Gorman says creating performance pay must be done ” with teachers, not to teachers.” That’s not just personal philosophy. N.C. law says CMS can tinker with the standard pay scale only if a majority of affected teachers approve.

It’s a tough time to win teachers’ trust. Faced with a bleak budget, Gorman laid off hundreds last spring, then rehired many later. The state withheld teacher bonuses based on test-score growth this year.

Gorman’s still trying to figure out how to get teachers involved in planning CMS’s performance pay.

Meanwhile, McCray is already organizing her members into study groups to look at what has worked and failed in other states.

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