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Obama Offers Teacher Proposals in State of the Union Address

Question for the White House: Are the teacher proposals President Obama outlined last night new ones, a twist on old ones, or what?

Crack reporter Alyson Klein does a great job outlining the education contours of last night's speech and some of the reaction to it. The teachers' unions, in particular, seemed to like the bit of red meat thrown to them in reference to stopping "teaching to the test."

But what exactly is the administration talking about with this new proposal? According to a summary put out by the White House, it will seek to "comprehensively reform" the profession to make teacher education more selective, reshape tenure, create teacher-career ladders and leadership positions, offer retention incentives in schools, and align pay to responsibilities. That is a lot to take on in one program.

Perhaps the administration means to seek revisions to programs already on the books that appear to get at similar aims. One of them, as Alyson mentions, is the Teacher Incentive Fund, which doles out grants to get states and districts to set up new evaluation and differentiated-pay systems. The Education Department has made changes to this program before and has hinted at doing so again.

Meanwhile, the Teacher Quality Partnerships grant is the main federal teacher education reform grant program. But the Obama administration has proposed folding this into other funding. And House Republicans, led by Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, have introduced an Elementary and Secondary Education Act proposal that would quietly repeal TQP.

Another possibility: The Obama administration put out several proposals to help reform teacher education in last year's budget request. For the most part, they require congressional authorization and/or funding.

We'll keep our eyes peeled for details and be sure to bring them right to you.

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