SUPER TEACHERS: A GOOD IDEA?

Since it was first proposed, the “super teachers” program of DISD Superintendent Linus Wright has drawn fire.
Under the program, teachers would be hired who would guarantee that their students will produce two years of
achievement in one year of teaching. Wright wants to use this method at the high-school level, where he says it is
particularly difficult to help students who have fallen behind their classmates.

In order to attract teachers of this caliber, Wright says the school district would have to pay them salaries much
higher than other teachers in the district – perhaps as much as $50,000. Wright says this method has already been
proven effective with “Project Seed,” a program that has been used for about 20 years to teach students at accelerated
rates.

We asked several people close to the issue about their opinions of “super teachers.” Their responses follow.

Linus Wright, Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District: “We have tried several methods
[of teaching] at the high-school level and have been unsuccessful. If we had teachers willing to take on the
responsibility, it would be cheap. We’ve been spending $1 million per year at the high-school level with almost zero
results. As long as they [super teachers] can guarantee [their work] like Project Seed, then that’s what we need.”

Mary Rutledge, member of the DISD school board: “If students could increase learning by two full years,
that would save a lot. To go back and try to catch kids up, you’re spending money. Somehow, we have to have students
with similar skills grouped. We could end up saving money. If we can identify those people who can bring out these
results, I’m in favor of it. So far, we haven’t found these people.”

Jerry Bartos, president of Bartos Inc. and former member of the Dallas School Board: “One of the great
problems in teaching in the public schools is that there is no premium pay and this is a step toward that. I’m
supportive of the concept.”

Herb Cooke, executive director of the Classroom Teachers Association of Dallas: “I think it’s a
ridiculous proposal. It’s a gimmick; it doesn’t deal with the basic problems of the Dallas School District. We already
have super teachers on the payroll. They just need the time, material and support to do their jobs.”

Sandy Kress, attorney with Johnson and Swanson, and one of the originators of the Committee for Quality
Education in Dallas:
“I have mixed feelings about the proposal. I’m certainly in favor of the district bringing
the highest quality teachers into the system, including ’master teachers,’ but that effort ought not divert the school
system from its primary task of improving the quality of teaching throughout the system and paying all teachers who do
a good job a professional wage.”

Leonard Clegg, president of the Dallas School Board: “We already have many super teachers in the DISD,
and we’d be happy to have more, but offering super money does not guarantee super teachers. A super teacher impacts on
a very small group of students. A much better plan is to identify the super teachers, and through training sessions
attempt to transfer their skills to other teachers and multiply that impact.”

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