Running at the NEA

Among seven Democratic presidential candidates and one Republican (Mike Huckabee) at the National Education Association convention, Barack Obama stood out by endorsing merit pay. Well, he endorsed talking about merit pay. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

That faint endorsement of merit pay, on the last day of the national assembly, was the only deviation from the buttering-up attendees got this week from Obama, six other Democratic candidates for president, and one Republican. Everybody was for higher teacher pay, financial incentives to lure teachers to low-achieving rural and urban districts, smaller class sizes, and a retooling of the No Child Left Behind law that requires states to measure student performance with standardized tests.

Obama may be swinging right, thinks Darren of Right on the Left Coast. After all, the feds don’t decide how teachers are paid so he’ll never be held to what he says.

At EIA, where he’s been blogging the convention, Mike Antonucci thinks Obama misunderstood the NEA’s take on pay for performance. Obama praised the NEA for collaborating on a Minnesota pay plan called Q-Comp. He probably didn’t understand that other NEA affiliates don’t like Q-Comp and it’s not that popular in the Minnesota affiliate either.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a conservative Republican, got a standing ovation for backing music and art classes in every grade.

“We’re leaving a lot of kids’ talents behind by denying them the opportunity to experience their creative self and to have a complete education,” Huckabee said. “An education is more than simply a data download from an information source to a kid’s brain.”

He also drew cheers by proposing to “unleash weapons of mass instruction” and calling an uneducated population “a form of terror.”

“Terror” is not a synonym for “undesireable activity.”

Eduwonk longed for someone to “make the true and courageous point that while hardly perfect, No Child Left Behind isn’t nearly as horrific as it’s made out to be.”


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