The Washington, D.C., schools chancellor has proposed spectacular raises for teachers willing to give up tenure in a move that has stirred up controversy, reports the New York Times. Michelle Rhee, the hard-charging chancellor of the D.C. public schools, thinks teacher tenure might be great for teachers–but it hurts kids, she says, by making incompetent instructors harder to fire. So Rhee has proposed raises of as much as $40,000, financed by private foundations, for teachers willing to give up tenure. Policy makers and educators nationwide are watching to see what happens to Rhee’s bold proposal. The 4,000-member Washington Teachers’ Union has divided over whether to embrace it, with many union members calling tenure a crucial protection against arbitrary firing. "If Michelle Rhee were to get what she is demanding," said Allan R. Odden, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies teacher compensation, "it would raise eyebrows everywhere, because that would be a gargantuan change." Rhee has not proposed abolishing tenure outright. Under her proposal, each teacher would choose between two compensation plans, one called green and the other red. Pay for teachers in the green plan would nearly double by 2010. But they would need to give up tenure for a year, after which they would need a principal’s recommendation or face dismissal. Teachers who choose the red plan also would get big pay increases but would lose seniority rights that allow them to bump more-junior teachers if their school closes or undergoes an overhaul…

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