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Performance Pay by Any Other Name


"Obama and the NEA: If elected, will he be willing to part ways with the union?"

Or that's what the Rocky Mountain News wants to know. And here at Teacher Beat, we think it is a question worth examining.

It is true that so far Obama has expressed support for merit pay, which the NEA is famous for not liking. But does anyone even know what Obama means when he talks about supporting performance pay? So far, at the convention in Denver, we've heard many other Democratic voices endorse it without actually going into any specifics, and many others have denounced the unions for opposing it.

Here's what Obama said at the NEA convention in July when he was greeted with boos: "Under my plan, districts will be able to design programs that give educators who serve as mentors to new teachers the salary increase they deserve. They'll be able to reward those who teach in underserved areas or take on added responsibilities. And if teachers learn new skills to serve students better, or if they consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well."

Meanwhile, the NEA's Reg Weaver has said time and again in recent months that his union supports "enhanced pay" for teachers who are national-board-certified or who agree to teach in high-risk and hard-to-staff schools.

Now am I the only one who thinks Obama and Weaver are saying mostly the same thing?

Maybe they don't need to part ways. All they need is a new term for merit/performance/enhanced pay. That should make everyone happy.


I do believe the Dems are generally on the right track for merit based pay and other educational issues. It is clear on Obama's website what his plans for such are and I was happy to see some hope for future teachers. Education has always been one of the most under-rated and least appreciated vocations, albeit its great importance. That doesn't necessarily means I denounce the right to organize, or to even be a part of a union, however we must give incentive to those who chose to perform at higher levels rather than reward those collecting a tenured paycheck. Particularly in high-risk areas, we had the greatest need for quality education. That's what NCLB should really be about anyway. All in all, a teacher has a right to receive a proportionate salary for work earned, and all children have the right to receive instruction for those who are willing to work for it.

You may be one of the few who are correctly describing the positions, and I think there is a reason why.

Throughout the election, the people have spoken loudly about NCLB, and its evil cousins. I suspect that the NEA's investments in congressional races will pay off handsomely.

If we are talking democracy, or if we are talking educational evidence, the EEP has lost. If they can't win through backroom politics, then its over for their 90s brand of negative politics. They will spin their inside politics victories - just like they spin their alleged gains in student performance. But the people have been speaking. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, if the people won't stop hating the NCLB brand, then you can't make them.

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