Obama backs merit pay, charter schools

In his first major education speech, President Obama came out for linking teachers’ pay to student performance and expanding effective charter schools, AP reports. He also supported lengthening the school day and year, improving early childhood education and raising erratic state standards in the speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He called for more spending and more reforms.

“The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens,” he said. “We have everything we need to be that nation … and yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us.”

Jay Mathews called it the “largest assemblage of smart ideas” on schools he’s seen, but wonders if Obama can make it happen.

“Provocative,” says Flypaper.

Ken DeRosa calls it “long on lofty rhetoric,” but “short on anything that stands a good chance of working. He was counting on five ponies.

Everybody loved the speech — teachers unions and charter advocates, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans included — reports Politics K-12.  The details will determine whether the teachers’ unions continue to cheer, says Teacher Beat.

Well, Gerald Bracey thought Obama blew it by listening to fearmongers. Here’s Part II of his HuffPo post.

In his obligatory section urging parents to shape up, Obama told this story:

When I was a child, living in Indonesia with my mother, she didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school so she supplemented my schooling with lessons from a correspondence course. I can still picture her, waking me up at 4:30 in the morning five days a week to go over some lessons before I left for school. And whenever I’d complain or find some excuse for getting more sleep, she’d patiently repeat her most powerful defense — “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

I love that story.  Raising your kid to be a functional adult — or president of the United States of America — is no picnic.

Update: The National Education Association unequivocally opposes merit pay, points out EIA Intercepts.

About Joanne


  1. Will it be like merit pay in MN?

    From the star tribune a while back: In 22 school districts whose Q Comp practices were examined by the Star Tribune, more than 99 percent of teachers in the program received merit raises during the most recent school year.

    Only 27 of the roughly 4,200 teachers eligible did not get a pay raise.

  2. I’m also betting that the “merit pay” will prove to have NOTHING to do with student learning, and everything to do with gaming the system:

    – expect favored teachers to be given assignments that are salted with likely academic stars.

    – expect that grade inflation will see double-digits. With $$$$ at stake, only the academically honest will give kids the grades they deserve. Diogenes would still be looking – for a L-O-O-O-N-G time – in the neighborhood of a school.

    – expect creative statistics to come into play.

    – expect school boards to finagle to classify students as not affecting the calculations (totally taking them out of the merit pay dynamics): LD, minority, ELL/ESL, etc.

    What WON’T happen: merit pay will be used to reward excellent teachers, and encourage schools to change their teaching practices to enhance student performance.

  3. Andy Freeman says:

    Does “backs charters” include keeping and expanding the funding of DC vouchers?

  4. That is exactly how it will work, greifer.