- We should reward good behavior and punish bad behavior.
" Teachers are extraordinarily frustrated about how their performance is assessed. And not just their own performance, but the school's performance generally. So they're teaching to the tests all the time. What I have said is that we should be able to get buy-in from teachers in terms of how to measure progress. Every teacher I think wants to succeed. And if we give them a pathway to professional development, where we're creating master teachers, they are helping with apprenticeships for young new teachers, they are involved in a variety of other activities, that are really adding value to the schools, then we should be able to give them more money for it. But we should only do it if the teachers themselves have some buy-in in terms of how they're measured. They can't be judged simply on standardized tests that don't take into account whether children are prepared before they get to school or not." ~ Barack Obama, 2007 Democratic primary debate on "This Week" Aug 19, 2007
Q: As president, can you name a hot-button issue where you would be willing to buck the Democratic Party line & say, "You know what? Republicans have a better idea here?"
A: I think that on issues of education, I've been very clear about the fact--and sometimes I've gotten in trouble with the teachers' union on this--that we should be experimenting with charter schools. We should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers.
Q: You mean merit pay?
A: Well, merit pay, the way it's been designed, I think, is based on just a single standardized test--I think is a big mistake, because the way we measure performance may be skewed by whether or not the kids are coming into school already 3 years or 4 years behind. But I think that having assessment tools and then saying, "You know what? Teachers who are on career paths to become better teachers, developing themselves professionally--that we should pay excellence more." I think that's a good idea.
Source: 2008 Fox News interview: presidential series Apr 27, 2008