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Obama Leans Toward NEA's Stance on Funding

Sen Barack Obama wasn't shy about taking on the National Education Association in his speech on Saturday. As in 2007, he endorsed performance pay to reward teachers who "consistently excel in the classroom." A few of the 10,000 NEA members booed, but most were silent, Vaishali Honawar reports in her blog on the convention.

But Obama did give a nod to NEA's desire to increase federal K-12 funding. In the litany of things he would change about NCLB, increasing funding for the law was at the top. "Forcing out educators to accomplish all of [the law's goals] without the resources that they need is wrong," he said in a speech given in Butte, Mont., and broadcast to the NEA convention. Later, he said that special education funding needs to increase.

The NEA has been consistently in favor increased funding for NCLB's Title I and IDEA. In the union's latest plan, it recommends making both programs entitlements, which would guarantee full funding for them every year. As I wrote last week, the NEA plan would double funding for those programs. Obama didn't endorse that idea. So far, he hasn't explained how he would trim spending elsewhere or raise revenues to create the money for those programs.

The NEA has the video of the speech, but it's for members only. The Education Intelligence Agency has a handmade version that is the most complete copy available to all.

For commentary, Joe Williams says that Obama successfully distanced himself from the union. Alexander Russo is unimpressed.

Sherman Dorn says Charlie Barone's post overstates the meaning of the boos.

Obama "deserves credit for backing a smart idea" on teacher pay, Liam Julian writes for NRO. At the Daily Kos, BDA in VA likes that Obama is willing to take unpopular stand. "Three cheers for Obama for having the guts to say something he knew wouldn't be popular with the most powerful Democratic interest group," Whitney Tilson writes.

The USA Today's On Politics has a statement from Tucker Bounds of the McCain campaign. "Barack Obama has never spearheaded education reforms while in the U.S. Senate and has no record of working across the aisle for change," he says.

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