Under the governor's proposed plan, high-performing "master teachers" would receive an additional $15,000 annually for four years to mentor less-experienced educators.
"You're going to have certain teachers doing an extraodinary job at beating the odds in the classroom," said New York State School Board Association Executive Director Tim Kremer. "Those teachers should be rewarded. We are all for the idea of merit pay in the sense that we believe there are some teachers who do a better job than others."
The concept is nothing new to the Rochester City School District, according to Rochester Teacher Association President Adam Urbanski. He says the district has been offering "differential pay" for the last 25 years.
"They are like master surgeons. They spend half their time teaching students and half of their time teaching new teachers how to become better teachers," Urbanski said.
Districts would have to apply for the program and if chosen the state would foot the bill. Critics worry the funding won't be around after this year. It's also unclear who would determine whether a teacher qualified for the pay increase. Urbanski says that detail would have to be worked out before supporting the proposal.
"We're not in favor of different salaries given to different teachers because the boss thinks that one is better than the other or because the boss likes or dislikes somebody," he added.