Stop implementation of ‘divisive’ incentive system – public school teachers

“In truth, any rewards system that pretends to set apart the ‘performing’ from the ‘non-performing’ falls flat in the face of the shortages that continue to be unmet by this administration.” – Alliance of Concerned Teachers

Sidebar story: Teachers question basis for determining, taxing incentives

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – They work hard, making do with the incomplete teaching materials, double class size and the dismal state of public schools in the country. Despite this, the government does not want to increase their salaries unless they go through an appraisal of their performance to see whether they “deserve” an incentive. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) stand firm that what teachers need is an across the board salary increase and not a deceptive bonus.

“It is not true that we do not perform. In fact we do jobs beyond what our profession as teachers calls for and in cases of abnormal situations in our place of work, we make the most out of the limited resources to aid us in our job. Our commitment is our motivation. The PBB will never be an objective system that will serve as a truthful evaluation of the performance of teachers,” Benjamin Valbuena, chairman of ACT said.

The PBB or the Executive Order 80 Directing the Adoption of a Performance-Based Incentive System for Government Employees was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 20, 2012. It was immediately implemented last year. Government employees received P5,000 ($115.27) instead of the P10,000 ($230.55) Performance Enhancement Incentive (PEI) that they have been receiving before the Aquino administration. According to EO 80, the PBB is the top-up bonus that will be “given to personnel of bureaus or delivery units in accordance with their contribution to the accomplishment of their Department’s overall targets and commitments.” The EO 80 indicated the criteria that should be met by the Departments.

The PBB ratings are based on the performance of departments and its employees. The performance is categorized as best, better and good. Departments and individuals who receive a “Below Satisfactory” performance rating will not be qualified for the PBB.

pbb table

Divisive, not unifying

Teachers deem the PBB as deceptive, divisive and discriminatory. The group said that the PBB promotes unhealthy competition instead of cooperation among government employees.

“What is worse is that the divisive and discriminatory nature of this scheme is very obvious. By rating teachers according to ‘good, better, or best,’ it implies that some teachers and staff do not perform at all,” Valbuena said. He added, “In truth, any rewards system that pretends to set apart the ‘performing’ from the ‘non-performing’ falls flat in the face of the shortages that continue to be unmet by this administration.”

In its position paper, ACT said the situation of teachers and students, the availability of supplies, facilities and other needs for teaching and an orderly, comfortable and conducive school are critical factors for students to learn and for teachers to teach.

“Some schools, with the help of the local government, have complete classrooms and other facilities that is why students are not jam-packed in classrooms. But there are also schools that are practically being neglected, where classrooms and even water and sanitation facilities are lacking especially in urban poor areas and far-flung areas in the provinces. There are teachers who persevere in teaching students in congested classrooms; some even hold classes under the tree. There are teachers handling ‘multi-grade classes.’ These are only some of the factors that prevent teachers and schools and divisions to achieve the highest rating indicated in the PBB. Clearly, the PBB is an injustice to teachers and only serves to divide us.”

Valbuena cited Lewis Solomon and Michael Podgursky’s findings on the “Pros and Cons of Performance-Based Compensation,” citing that instead of providing incentives for cooperation and unity among education personnel, such a scheme fosters competition.

“It is against the union environment and the collaborative nature of teaching,” the study noted. Only a minute percentage of the faculty are being “rewarded” for “exemplary performance” instead of improving the quality of teaching conditions as a whole, it concluded.

On the ground

Public school teachers, like nurses, are in the forefront of the education system. They deal with the shortages of classrooms, lack of books and teaching materials. They are the ones who have to find ways for children to learn even if it means shelling out some of their own money to provide students with what they need.

Photo courtesy of Alliance of Concerned Teachers/Bulatlat.com
Photo courtesy of Alliance of Concerned Teachers/Bulatlat.com

That is why teachers are enraged at Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo of the Department of Education when he was quoted as saying, “It’s just fitting to reward teachers who perform, because in the past, without the PBB, teachers tend not to perform. Unlike now, when you perform, you will be rewarded.”

“Is Assistant Secretary Mateo saying that, we, teachers, are not performing well? That we, teachers, tend to not perform our duties? That the P5,000 cut from our Christmas Bonus last year is because we do not deserve it due to our poor output and performance? This is a clear underestimation of our vocation as teachers,” Valbuena said. He added that teachers demand an apology.

“Teachers are in a very difficult situation. They teach in a classroom where there is no ventilation, with double class size of almost 100 students in one class. They are implementing a new curriculum with incomplete modules and teaching guides. We make do with what we have. What performance do they want?” said Joselyn Martinez, vice-chairwoman of ACT.

Valbuena also said the basis for the PBB set by the government is beyond the control of teachers. “We cannot blame students who drop out of school because of poverty and also because of the inconvenience they feel in their classrooms. We do not also manage the total maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of our schools that is why the liquidation of such is mainly a task of our school heads. Even the results of National Achievement Tests are not within our control as teachers. In fact this controversial NAT has set the standard of ‘teaching to test’ instead of ‘teaching to learn.’ This has also encouraged competition among schools. This should not be allowed.”

Based on the complaints received by ACT, teachers are being required to liquidate MOOE; results of the school’s NAT are also used as basis for determining the teachers’ performance. Teachers also complain of the guaranteed P35,000 ($813) bonus – the highest incentive level of PBB – to teachers who are recipients of awards such as Literacy Awards and national awards from the Civil Service Commission, among others.

For Alex Medina, 46, teacher for 23 years at the Pinagbuhatan High School in Pasig City, teachers should be treated properly by the government. “Teachers are always in the news, not only because we are fighting for our rights but because we are also under the scrutiny of parents. When a student accuses a teacher of ‘maltreatment,’ he or she is immediately judged even without a proper investigation of what has really taken place. People don’t know the difficulties of teachers. We deserve to be treated with respect. The government should treat us properly and not like this,” Medina told Bulatlat.com referring to the “unfair” PBB.

Across-the-board salary increase

Medina has four children, two are now in college and two are in elementary. He said the salary upgrade is more appropriate than the PBB for teachers who are also grappling with the crisis.

Valbuena stressed that what the teachers need is an across-the-board salary increase. “The PBB will never be a justifiable system of measurement of the performance of public school teachers. What is needed is an across the board salary increase for all teachers and personnel in the education sector nationwide. We call for the abolition of Executive Order No. 80.”

Valbuena calls on public teachers to unite and fight for House Bill No. 245 –An Act Increasing the Minimum Monthly Salaries of Public School Teachers to P25,000 ($581) and P15,000 ($348) for Non-teaching Personnel. “Let’s unite and fight for our rights,” Valbuena said. ()

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  1. PBB is the government’s way of pushing teachers and school heads to fake data. They don’t care whether the data submitted are right or “doctored”. All they care about is the good statistics. When the data submitted to their office looks good, they won’t have to fake data themselves. Then, our education stats would look really great. We could boast to the whole world that the K to 12 program is indeed the proven solution to all of our problems! We can have better ranking too.

    It is indeed enraging. People in the higher offices would tell teachers that some are better-performing than the others. It’s sad because we, teachers, do know better. I know we look stupid sometimes because so many of us are deeply indebted and poor. But we are not stupid not to understand what really is going on here. What an insult this is to all of us!

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