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Senator Smith to Arizona Teachers: I want to hear from you!

My name is Steve Smith, current Arizona Senator from District 23, and I need input from teachers from all grade levels and subject areas in K-12 education. In this upcoming session, I plan on introducing performance-pay legislation in the hopes to provide an opportunity for great teachers in Arizona to be properly compensated for their achievements in the classroom.

So that you know my background, I currently serve on the Senate Education committee and I come from a family of teachers. My wife, brother, sister, cousin, and mother-in-law are all currently teaching and my step-father was a teacher in inner-city Detroit for 40 years – so this issue is near and dear to me. I have spent countless hours researching a multitude of models and discussing the feasibility of different options with the Department of Education, Superintendents, and Principals. What I need now is the most important part: feedback from the people this bill is designed to help, the teachers themselves. Too many times we find that when the government creates laws they do not consult with the very people the laws affect, but not this time.

The goal of this legislation is to have a fair and uniform set of standards in place, unlike the current method. K-12 teachers would have a clear understanding of what results are necessary in order to collect their performance pay, which would be in addition to their regular base salary.

The criteria would not comprise just from standardized testing results, but from an array of other indicators like in-class testing, overall student class performance, overall performance of the school, in-class observations, etc. The questions that remain are:

  • What are the criteria that you, the teacher, would like to see?

  • How would you want to be evaluated, and what is fair and reasonable?

  • Would you prefer to see performance pay based on a per-student model or an overall classroom model?

  • How should art, physical education, music, and other elective teachers be evaluated?

  • How would you involve the parents of the students more?

  • What thoughts in general to you have towards this discussion?

Again, your input is imperative and valuable, so please send your comments/ideas to me directly by no later than December 15 at

Thank you very much and keep up the outstanding work!

Sincerely, Senator Steve Smith

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