You Had Me At Reform

The President’s speech today includes a lot of interesting tidbits, a shout-out for performance pay, a call to lift charter school caps, and even a very pro-Broad Prize signal embedded in the data section.  I’ve been lukewarm on some of the stimulus, more on that later, but this is an important speech.   They’re scrambling on 16th Street…

Update:  It’s on? AP’s Libby Quaid breaks some news on the lines that are being drawn:

[National Education Association President Dennis] Van Roekel insisted that Obama’s 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.

However, administration officials said later they do mean higher pay based on student achievement, among other things.

Hmmm…doesn’t seem like they both can be right…

Among others the Fordhammites are nervous about Obama’s call for tests that measure “21st Century Skills.” But it looks like he was just giving voice to issues around test quality rather than buying into the whole 21st Century Skills construct or sending some signal there.  It’s a catchphrase, there was a 21st Century conceit to the speech, and that issue has been on the table long before the 21st Century Skills idea came into vogue.  It is worth noting, though, that there is language in ESEA about assessments and higher order thinking and money in the stimulus for test quality so there’s an opportunity for the President to step up the pressure on assessment quality through executive action if he wants to.

Update II:  Sawchuk has more on the teacher issues.

Update III:   The perplexing “merit pay” – “performance pay” distinction seems to be emerging again.   If the cover story to get anything done here is that it’s not “merit pay” so it’s a victory for the NEA, then fine.   Otherwise, the distinction between the two eludes me.   And a professional occupation that can’t talk about “merit” has some issues…

3 Responses to “You Had Me At Reform”

  1. Mike Antonucci Says:

    You’re confused because you’re supposed to be. Ignore the public statements and check out the policy (http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2009/03/11/nea-on-merit-pay-without-the-sugar-coating/).

  2. BenjaminL Says:

    “And a professional occupation that can’t talk about “merit” has some issues…”

    So depressing. If the public ever held the educational Blob responsible for what it perpetrates…

  3. R. Blaine Says:

    Expect to see yet another NEA “all hands on deck” initiative on the subject of merit pay. Once the states begin reporting on the status of their own teacher evaluations as part of the stimulus requirements, the pressure will become intense to show some sort of reform profile out of NEA headquarters. Coherence on policy matters is always a problem with the assorted fiefdoms and overlapping mandates that is the NEA structure, but the difficulty is especially severe with the pending departure of Joel Packer, the last real policy brain in the building.

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