Friday, July 06, 2007

Does he really support merit pay? 

Some are reading into this article that Sen. Barack Obama wants merit pay for teachers and would make it a priority of his administration were he elected president.

Obama said teachers' salaries should be increased across the board, but he also said there should be fair ways of measuring teacher performance and compensating teachers accordingly.

"If you're willing to teach in a high-need subject like math or science or special education, we'll pay you even more. If you're willing to take on more responsibilities like mentoring, we'll pay you more," Obama said.

The Illinois senator said it's possible to "find new ways to increase pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them and not based on some arbitrary test score."
So what is proposed as a measurement, if not "some arbitrary test score"? Do you think I can assess student learning if I develop the test with them and not impose grades based on "some arbitrary test score"?
Obama said he would only support a merit-pay approach after consulting with teachers.
...who will tell him anything that gets them more money without any real accountability. But Obama might show some interest in bringing to the table the one group that can hold teachers accountable and has an incentive to do so: parents.

Only one candidate, Barack Obama, suggested that maybe money was not all that was lacking when it comes to educating America's poor and minority children. Parents had a role to play, too. "It is absolutely critical for us to recognize that there are going to be responsibilities on the part of African American and other groups to take personal responsibility to rise up out of the problems we face," he said. What? It's not just a question of funding?

Obama has said this sort of thing before. Back in March, in one of his first major speeches as a presidential candidate, he struck just the right balance -- not only more money but more personal responsibility, too: "Even as I fight on behalf of more education funding . . . I have to also say that if parents don't turn off the television set when the child comes home from school and make sure they sit down and do their homework and go talk to the teachers and find out how they're doing . . . I don't know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was something white."

If Obama is really going to go Cosby on the education establishment, I'd have at least one thing to look forward to, should he win.