Obama Rocks School Bus Education Policy Challenges Teachers
Byline: Associated Press
WASHINGTON u President Barack Obama called for tying teachersAE pay to studentsAE performance and expanding innovative charter schools Tuesday, embracing ideas that have provoked hostility from members of teachers unions.
He also suggested longer school days u and years u to help AmericaAEs children compete in the world.
In his first big speech on education, Obama said the United States must drastically improve student achievement to regain lost international standing.
"The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens," he said. "We have everything we need to be that nation ... and yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us."
His solutions include teacher pay and charter school proposals that have met resistance among members of teachers unions, which constitute an important segment of the Democratic Party.
Obama acknowledged that conflict, saying, "Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom."
Despite their history on the issues, union leaders publicly welcomed ObamaAEs words, saying it seems clear he wants to include them in his decisions in a way President George W. Bush did not.
"We finally have an education president," said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers. "We really embrace the fact that heAEs talked about both shared responsibility and making sure there is a voice for teachers, something that was totally lacking in the last eight years."
The president of the 3.2 million-member National
Education Association, Dennis van Roekel said, "President Obama always says he will do it with educators, not to them."
"That is a wonderful feeling, for the president of the United States to acknowledge and respect the professional knowledge and skills that those educators bring to every job in the school," van Roekel said.
Van Roekel insisted ObamaAEs call for teacher performance pay does not necessarily mean raises or bonuses would be tied to student test scores. It could mean more pay for board-certified teachers or for those who work in high-poverty, hard-to-staff schools, he said. …