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Michigan Teachers "On the Same Page" With Obama Education Plan

March 11, 2009

Lansing, MI - President Obama gets an apple on his desk from Michigan teachers for his education agenda, including improved early-childhood and K-12 education programs, promoting innovation and excellence in the classroom, and merit pay for teachers.

Some observers believe the question of merit pay will generate criticism from teachers' unions, which supported Obama's presidential campaign. However, Michigan Education Association communications director Doug Pratt says the MEA is on the same page with most parts of the President's education plan.

"He doesn't want to tie pay strictly to test scores. He wants to include everyone in the conversation about what's best for our students. That's the key take-away for us."

Pratt says one idea worth talking about is school-wide bonuses to keep teachers from competing with each other.

Obama said his administration will make sure schools get the money they need to administer the No Child Left Behind Act. Pratt says that's a switch from the unfunded mandate of the Bush administration.

"He wants this law to succeed and to make possible the high goals it sets - which we all support - by providing schools and teachers the resources necessary to get the job done."

Obama also called for lifting the cap on charter schools. Pratt says the MEA supports charter schools that are innovative and held accountable to high standards.

Critics of the Obama plan say the President should focus on fixing the economy first before unveiling an ambitious and expensive education overhaul. Obama says better schools are key to reviving the economy.

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI