Oregon Student Learning Determines Teacher Pay, Ballot Measure 95 (2000)
Under the current law in 2000, a public school or school district may use length of time teaching and additional college course credits to determine a teacher's pay, including pay increases.
This measure prohibits public schools or school districts from paying a teacher based on length of time teaching or on additional college courses taken. Instead, this measure requires public schools and school districts to base a teacher's pay, including pay increases, on that teacher's job performance.
This measure failed at the November 2000 General Election.
Amends Constitution: Student Learning Determines Teacher Pay; Qualifications, Not Seniority, Determine Retention
Stuart Miller and Becky Miller
 Supporters believe that teachers should earn salaries based on how well they teach, not simply on seniority, which is how about 95% of teachers were being payed in 2000. Supporters believed that measure 95 would assure that good teachers are rewarded.
Chief petitioner Becky Miller said of the current system in 2000, "Thanks to collective bargaining contracts the teachers union has forced down the throats of every school district in the state, schools automatically keep the teachers who have been there the longest; even if they are the least competent, and even if some of the brightest and best must be laid off to protect those with seniority."
Bill Sizemore of Oregon Taxpayers United said, "The NEA, the national teachers union, and its Oregon affiliate, the OEA, hate merit pay. They know as well as you and I that the current seniority based pay system undermines public education. But as unions, they know they cannot survive a pay system that rewards job performance."
"...when the union demands higher salaries than the district can afford, the higher salaries must be financed by either increasing taxes or laying off as many existing teachers as it takes to save enough money to pay the remaining teachers the higher salaries."
"...why would teachers allow their union to demand pay raises so large that some of them will lose their jobs? They wouldn't, unless, of course, everybody knows in advance who would get laid off and who would stay. With a seniority based system, they do. Those who have been there the longest stay, and newer teachers are let go; all regardless of job performance."
 Opponents of the measure, including Lisa Laursen Thirkill, Vice President of the Oregon PTA, argued that there could be no clear way to measure progress in the classroom, which teachers' "performance" would be based on. Thirkill also pointed out that local communities would have no say in the process. Many opposed the competition the measure would encourage among teachers and believed the system should be set up so teachers will colaborate.
Some people were concerned that the measure did nothing to provide more funding for schools. The measure was considered vague and poorly written by some of the opposition.
The Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens argued that, "Nobody wants to see a bad teacher in our classrooms, least of all other teachers. The Oregon Legislature has ended teacher tenure and poor performing teachers are shipped out if they don't shape up. Measure 95 contains nothing that will weed out bad teachers." The organization also criticized adding "another level of bureaucracy" to the public school system.
Some others opposed are:
- John A. Kitzhaber, M.D., Governor of Oregon
- Confederation of Oregon School Administrators
- Oregon Consumer League
- Oregon Education Association
- Oregon 2000 ballot measures
- List of Oregon ballot measures
- Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Oregon
- Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon
- 2000 ballot measures