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NYC Merit Pay: Will It Change NCLB Debate?

Lots of talk in the education blogosphere about New York City's merit-pay deal. (See here, here, and here.) The Swift & Change Able Charles Barone suggests that this announcement could be a turning point on the NCLB debate over teacher pay.

I see one key element in the New York City plan that could be a congressional roadblock: Union approval. In New York City's case, the United Federation of Teachers' approval was central to getting the deal done. Unions will certainly point to UFT's support as the reason why teachers are willing to experiment with merit pay.

I'm hearing House Democrats are contemplating changing their draft to require local union officials to approve any district's proposal to spend federal money for alternative pay plans. That may make it easier for Democrats to vote for the bill, but it would drive away Republicans, I've been told.

If Democrats want a bipartisan bill, they'll need to be more creative to satisfy both the unions and Republicans. Remember, if they don't get the Republican who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to agree to the bill, they'll need a lot of congressional Republicans with them on this.

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