Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gorman to teachers: We won't cut your pay

As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders work toward crafting teacher performance pay for 2014, they're dealing with resistance and questions from teachers who worry that the new plan will cut pay, pit teachers against each other competing for rewards, and overburden classrooms with testing. Here's an email Superintendent Peter Gorman sent to CMS employees this morning, after telling Observer staff Tuesday that he'll avoid cutting pay.

From: Peter C. Gorman
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 7:31 AM
To: cmsmailall
Subject: Update on teacher effectiveness

Dear CMS employees,

We first began talking about teacher effectiveness three years ago. But the last three months, most of the questions we’ve gotten have been about teacher pay, which is only one part of the reforms we want to make.

The questions, and much of the public conversation about this issue, have made clear that many of our teachers are anxious, even fearful, that we’re going to cut their salaries. It’s understandable. We’ve had reductions in force, frozen salaries, budget cuts and school closures in the past two years. All of this is unsettling and it has made our jobs harder to do.

We do not intend to cut teacher pay. Teacher salaries will not go down as a result of our work to improve the way we evaluate teachers. Instead, we will focus on measuring effective teaching using multiple measures and reward our top teachers with additional money.

How we will do that, and what form it will take in our budget, has not been decided. That, along with much of the evaluation work, remains to be done. The anxiety and the fear around salary reduction has begun to get in the way of our work. But we cannot be distracted. Our work must be about improving student achievement – and the only way we’ll get there is to teach our way there.

Every child deserves a great teacher. We must do a better job in the classroom and we can do a better job. That is what we want to accomplish. It’s not about punishing teachers. It’s about helping kids – and we have to always focus on that first.




jon golden said...

Raise your hand if you believe him?

Anonymous said...

What a load. If he thinks anyone believes this intentional misdirection he really does have his head stuck in a "Management for Dummies" book. I think it is interesting that he points out that this is getting in the way of teaching and yet directing that an unnecessary test be administered this week - which, hello??, is very much getting in the way of teaching.

This whole "mess" is ridiculous. If you need help balancing your budget, I would be glad to help. If you need advice on employee performance assessment, I would be glad to help. But can we please CMS stop with the continued delivery of untested programming issues. And by the way, how dare you even put out there that you may need a special tax. You just promoted an area superintendent and gave her an $18,000 per year pay increase and hired a new HR person at $160,000 per year, an increase of $20,000 from the last waste of space. Are you kidding me? This board can't find their behind with both hands - No way.

Anonymous said...

So tell me Pete, why the behind the scenes work to get Ruth Samuelson to propose a bill, and not get the teacher's vote supporting promised... - if you are indeed being truthful in what you're saying?

Anonymous said...

If it is all about the kids, then let them learn instead of wasting their time with more unnecessary testing.

therestofthestory said...

Considering the pickle the state budget is in now and for the next 3 to 4 years, and we have $2B to pay back the feds not counting interest, I do not see much chance of "extra" money coming to CMS to pay this "efective" teacher rating without raiding the existing pot. So one of two things, raid the existing pot or the effective rating deal is a sham.

Anonymous said...

High performance teachers have nothing to worry about...they never do. If you are performing a mediocre job, tired of teaching, have not updated your skills and or lost the passion to should be concerned. In fact we (parents) are all concerned and would rather you are identified and given the opportunity to improve or asked to leave. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:13

And teachers should be very concerned about which students are placed in their classrooms - only the students from families that provide a good home environment and have lots of involvement with their children should be desired to be in teachers' classrooms - that would ensure that teachers get their pay increase and bonus.....sounds silly doesn't it? about as silly as what you just said

jon golden said...


THANK YOU! We play with the hands we are dealt. The idea that my financial future may be tied to the type of student in my room, or their parents, is ABSURD!

Anonymous said...

Not teachers, but cut Obamas pay in 2012 for inciting riots govt overthron creating general mayhem havoc and chaos in the oil rich arab world raising the price of gas since Nov 08 by 2.00 a gallon to over 100 a barrel.
Prediction is 200-300 a barrel for oil due to OBAMAS ignorance and stupidity meddling in others affairs !!!!

Re-elect this idiot? He is a world tyrant revolutionist dictator wasting 3 trillion a yr. HE alone is to blame. Gas to 10-15 a gallon? Govt overthrow needed in DC.

Anonymous said...

I think the title to this article is misleading. The key word in Gorman's email is "intend". I don't think that he intends to do any reduction but reality is that he and the BOE will do what they feel is necessary.

I think a good example of this is with the school closings. If I recall correctly, the NAACP recommended furloughs and salary reductions as part of their solution. Everyone comes to the table with different priorities, whether it is a group of neighbors pulling for their local schools, students, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers.

I've made it priority to participate in several of the community forums last summer and attend some of the board meetings as well as listen to what Mr. Baxter has shared with teachers. One of the points that came out and that I personally agree with is that an alternative to all of this testing is to spend the time and money on raising principals and administrators that teachers feel are objective, fair, and knowledgeable to do their evaluations. If the "evaluators" are doing their "job" then they will also be in a better position to know the students and parents as well as the teachers and deal with effectiveness issues on a timely basis to the benefit of the students.

Teachers this year are being evaluated under a more complex system than in years past which includes providing artifacts and self evaluations (more documentation) than expected previously. This is the first year and I suspect that if a teacher is ineffective, the additional documentation or lack of it will provide evidence to that fact. If it is a classroom management issue then administration should be there to help provide mentoring support or security depending on the situation. Each class has its own challenges that won't surface from the types of tests being proposed.

The only problem I see with the current system is that it does not quantify the performance of one teacher over another. My husband is in management and part of his job is to annually rank his employees and then work with his peers to determine an overall ranking to determine raises and promotions. They do this over a day or two and his people have to trust him to stand up for them. The size of the group is similar to the number of staff in a small school. No work time is lost aside from the one-on-one feedback time and the time he spends on the process is considered part of his job.

He works in the private sector vs. the public sector and I confess that I am not familiar with all of the nuances involved with the state and local issues and how the accountability works but my understanding was that the state funds which are the majority of the portion of teachers' salaries required the teachers votes, the local portion is smaller and at the mercy of the CMS BOE who wants to develop "Pay for Performance". The timing of this email is a response to the reaction to the bill proposed by Samuelson. I doubt that it will sway teachers' opinions but since it was released publicly, I suspect it was to influence the tax paying public which will have more influence in passing the bill than the teachers.

Anonymous said...

How about " we must PARENT our way there...every child deserves a great PARENT". Of course we want great teachers...but they cannot correct faulty parenting. THAT will stifle almost anything teachers may do. They are working themselves to death now!

Wornout_Teacher said...

I don't think "Pete" "intended" to single-handedly turn everyone against him while he works hard to ruin our school system, but that is what is happening. Sometimes things we don't "intend" for to happen have a way of, in fact, happening. And if you didn't "intend" for it to help, well, gosh you can't really be blamed for that, right? Like, "Officer, I didn't INTEND to kill them man when I shot him. It just HAPPENED. I can't be blamed for something I didn't INTEND to do." Hm.

Anonymous said...

The current approval rating of teachers in CMS is 94% based on Principal evaluations. Everyone knows this number is incorrect. Even knowing a teacher is ineffective, it takes two to three years to get them out of the classroom--or longer if age discrimination or other cards are played. I welcome an effective tool. So should the teachers.

Anonymous said...

If a principal is doing his/her due diligence, it really does not take that long at all.

I agree with the others in saying that I would be much more encouraged if, instead of saying he does not intend to cut teacher pay, he instead laid it out on the table. "If it comes between cutting teacher salaries or putting PfP off until later, I will postpone the implementation of PfP."

Anonymous said...

Pete....YOU LIE!

Anonymous said...

Half A League
Half A League

Into The Valey Rode The 600

Anonymous said...

Teachers should be able to participate in a confidence vote on Dr. Gorman's leadership. I urge all parents to speak at this Tuesday's school board meeting to demand that the school board send a survey to all CMS teachers that would allow them to vote on whether they have confidence in Dr. Gorman's ability to lead them.

Dr. Gorman has been in his job for six years. If teacher morale was low when he took the job, he has had ample time to change that. If not, than the low teacher morale that sullies the current educational climate has happened on his watch. Either way, Dr. Gorman has not done his job.

While he cannot be blamed for the repeated teacher layoffs year after year or the lack of pay raises, Dr. Gorman is to blame for trying to implement this ridiculous system of standardized testing that cuts into instructional time and the pay for performance plan that is linked to it. There is no excuse to spend $2.3 million on testing plus an exorbitant salary of $93k for Mr. Baxter's position at a time when fourth grade students will find themselves in classes of 32 students (next year) because of more teacher layoffs.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I see firsthand that there are other teachers who are ineffective and should be let go. There is no need to do pay for performance if principals would have the guts to actually fire the teachers that need to be fired. There is so much red tape involved, but in many cases it NEEDS to be done.

But, BTW, @12:13 PM, high performance teachers who are not tenured yet have every reason to be worried. CMS is taking into account performance ratings in this next job cut to an extent. But they will cut high performing un-tenured teachers before they will cut a terrible tenured teacher, according to the RIF policy they emailed out. There's still that divide.

While I don't feel my faculty is 94% effective (again, I see those that need to GO!), everything is working against us too. Discipline is not taken care of at an administrative level at our school--we handle it all in our own classrooms and referrals for more severe infractions do not result in ISS or OSS for the students. Did anyone outside the system know that Gorman tracks the number of suspensions administrators give a year? It deters them from suspending students even for some physical and verbal fights because it goes on the AP's "record." So our morale is TERRIBLE. We are overworked and underpaid as it is, but now our classes keep growing, the student discipline gets worse and worse, and the administrators refuse to help us with anything. Not to mention this is year 4 of job cuts. My school stands to lose several teacher positions and we are strapped as it is.

I am a music teacher. Next year our kids will be taking a district-wide standardized test written for music classes (a specific test is being written for each individual course). I've noticed that the media has caught hold of the number 52 as the number of tests that will be added next year. That is not even close. EVERY SINGLE CLASS will be tested next year: art, chorus, band, dance, foreign language, etc in addition to every single core class. The ridiculous parts are in the arts: elementary special teachers such as music teachers see their kids for 45 minutes once a week. They will be tested at the end of the year. Middle school wheel classes are on a rotation of 6 or 9 weeks. Those classes will be tested at the end of the 6/9 weeks, according to what CMS is currently saying. Not to mention the amount of time it will take to test every single subject area! Especially if the test is legitimate. In a performing arts class, performance should be one of the components besides written knowledge. We'll have no time left at the end of the year/semester/quarter if someone has to assess individual performances in these classes and grade them.

I completely agree with the growing sentiment that teacher effectiveness needs to be measured. However, taking a paper test is ONLY ONE way to measure a teacher's effectiveness.

Gorman has said to us teachers from the start that he wants teacher input on this process. However, just as @11:25AM said, he is currently trying to get a bill passed that gives CMS complete control over all teacher pay without teacher and board of education approval. CMS will be messing with not just our supplement, but the entire salary so there will be no base state pay. So he's talking out of two sides of his mouth (what a shock!). Here's the news story about the bill:

Anonymous said...

"We won't cut your pay." Bait and switch. If this PfP goes through, it will turn into whatever they want it to be. At a recent meeting, Mr. Baxter told a school staff that salaries would be lowered, perhaps by 15%. Teachers would be shown what their new salaries would be a year ahead of time, "so you will have time to make adjustments."

Robert said...

E Pluribus Unum

Anonymous said...

"Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"

Squealer, Animal Farm,
George Orwell, 1945

Sam Lowry: I only know I got the wrong man.

Jack Lint: Information Transit got the wrong man. I got the "right" man. The wrong one was delivered to me as the right man, I accepted him on good faith as the right man. Was I wrong?

Brazil, Terry Gilliam

Anonymous said...

I don't believe a word he says. Nobody seems to be able to explain how much of a loss we are going to take. If he takes away my Masters pay and National Board pay, I can't afford to live in Charlotte and try to put two boys through college. I've also heard rumors that we won't even be on the state retirement system. That's fine for those coming into the system if they want to work based on those criteria. It's too late for me to choose another occupation. Gorman needs to go. He's lost touch with those who work for him. He needs to admit that he's just trying to make a name for himself because he has his sights on Washington DC. By the way, he says a higher degree and NBCT aren't worth anything. What about HIS higher degree?? He's got several!! Let's reduce his salary. By the way, while our salaries have been frozen the last several years, he's actually received higher salaries EVERY YEAR!! Get rid of him and the school board. What a bunch of idiots!! Teachers are breaking their backs for this system every day! For those of you who say that teachers should be based on performance, try having a room full of kids who simply don't care and don't think twice about standing up and cussing you out! People in the private sector, you would never work under the circumstances teachers do. You would never put up with the disrespect day in and day out that teachers do. You would never put in the hours that teachers do. On average people at my school work from 7:30am to 6:00pm. They MIGHT have 20 minutes to eat lunch. Oh, part of that wonderful 'planning' period they have they'll probably have to sit in on some 'conference' where a parent has brought in their 'lawyer' so they can make sure their child is treated a certain way. Give teachers a BREAK!!

Anonymous said...

You should see some of the "doctored" Dr. Gorman letters floating around... HYSTERICAL!!! We have a fair few satirists in our midst... It really is hard to help it when he signs everything "Pete" he's our buddy, he'd come over and have a beer and play horse shoes, watch a game, doing something non-anti-christ-like.
Dear Pete,
I don't believe anything that comes out of your mouth, or off the tips of your fingers, or through those who screen and answer your emails.

Larry said...

This afternoon I met with a Teacher Group and found out some things you may need to know.

First the Teachers understand that evaluations are necessary and they agree with them.

Second they understand that the cold winds of the economy have been blowing in the tax payers households for a while and they are going to make education tax dollars the top value and best use as the tax payers are demanding.

Third they are surprised that this sold to the Elected Officials as a necessity in order to save a 22 million dollar Gate Grant which now it is being said never existed. However the Elected Officials are still under the impression they are helping to keep this 22 million by passing this as well as other axillary benefits which are nebulous.

Fourth, they have questions as to how can the Elected officials vote on a Bill that references standards that have not even been written yet? For instance they mention how the Teachers would be evaluated but do not state the source, method, who will evaluate or anything of substance other than a placeholder for a future panacea evaluation.

And yet several other such questions remain glaring in this bill yet seemingly it seems to be too important to get it passed instead of getting something that covers the bases passed and of substance.

That is why I would suggest the Elected Officials get with the Teachers Groups and discuss the great ideas they have on this bill and even some ideas outside this bill.

Go to for more info and to see that I will be happy to set up a meeting.

Anonymous said...

Everyone blames Pete Gorman, he was sought after by the school board and selected. He is doing what was asked of him. If he knows something is wrong he will not speak up. He may ask (to the board)are you sure about this (situation) and if the board states yes we are sure, the plan moves forward. He is marketable that's way he is wanted in Chicago, Las Vegas, etc. He does what he is told to do. In the corporate world, he's a yes man and he's the man the school board wanted. Need to get new school board members!

Anonymous said...

@ 10:09

You give the board WAAAY to much credit. And "Pete" is a climber, everything about him is predictable.

Anonymous said...

Dilbert is alive and well. Gorman must have taken his mgt style from that GE crook, Jack Welch. Everyone will have a job, we'll take care of everyone, 10 minutes later we were escorted to a guarded room and given our "packages," that left everyone unemployed. A target number for layoffs under the guise of "excellent teachers." "Every child deserves a great teacher," yeah those 250 On the Job Trainees via Teach for America's 6 to 8 week prep really beat certified teachers and are guaranteed 2 years to prove themselves. Makes perfect sense. Just ask Pete.

Anonymous said...

They say they want ineffective teachers. In many cases teachers are considered ineffective due to the test scores of their students. Speaking as one of the RIF victims, I can say first hand test scores don't always indicate the effectiveness of the teacher. I worked for 3 years at one school. For each year I was there, my students performed extremely well on their EOG's. When I transferred to another school, each year most of the students in my class performed poorly on the EOG's. Did I lose my effectiveness when left the first school? I think not. As a matter of fact, I felt that I worked harder, prayed more, stayed longer, and spent more of my own money at the second school than at the first. However when I was let go, the conversation consistently was about the EOG scores at my second school. Dr. Gorman should take a walk in some teachers shoes and actually be a teacher for a month or even a week. He should have to prepare lesson plans, deal with behavioral issues, communicate with parents, etc, and see how effective he is.

Anonymous said...

what he meant was we will not cut your pay, we will just fire you

Anonymous said...

As the son of a teacher, the husband of a teacher, and a parent. The problem are that teachers are expected to be the parent as well as the teacher, since most parents are too busy working, or involved in their own agendas to spend the time working with their kids on homework, and show an interest in what the kids are doing in school.

The other issue is that Gorman, the NAACP et al. Don't seem to understand that if you cut the budget and number of teachers, you will have a larger student to teacher ratio and it will be very difficult to raise the quality of education when teachers will have less time to spend with individual students.

Anonymous said...

As gas hits top Bush era prices the Obama homosexuality connection keeps getting closer with his anti-bully and his pro gay military law changes re-training. Maybe Obama will admit hes bi & downlow.

Anonymous said...

Gorman figured out he does not need to cut the teachers pay now that he has not given them pay raises for so many years.

chupacabra said...

the check is in the mail

I was going to call you.

read my lips no new taxes


I think the saddest thing is that if teachers were as stupid as he seems to think, they really should not be in charge of education our nation's future.

Anonymous said...

Who is holding this guy in 'check'? Where is the school board to stop him? Why isn't the press giving him a harder time? He doesn't have the funds to pay the teachers that perform but he is still going through with it? Schools are to nurture. If you want your child chastized like most of us are at our jobs, then support pay for performance. It will be the children that suffer. Testing is only beneficial when directing instruction. Anyone can manipulate numbers. It is time for parents to speak out for their children.

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