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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pres. Obama proposes Merit Pay for teachers

President Barack Obama speaks, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, speaks during an unscheduled visit to a meeting of the Council of Chief State School officers, Tuesday, March 10, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
One way I can tell if an elected official is doing the job she or he is supposed to be doing is that I find myself agreeing with the lawmaker most of the time and disagreeing with the lawmaker part of the time.
Today, President Obama came out in favor merit pay for teachers, paying those teachers who can demonstrate they doing the best jobs, more money. He also said that he favors removing restrictions on charter schools.

I am trying to avoid a knee jerk reaction to this announcement. As they say, the devil is in the details. What I worry about with merit pay is that if the details are badly handled, we may see the best teachers abandoning the inner city schools because the low test scores that often accompany these schools are do to factors mostly out of the teachers' control.

Charter schools are even more problematic for me since in too many cases the teachers in these schools lack the protections of due process that public school teachers have gained, often through years of tough negotiations.

We shall see what the president is proposes and how he expects to fund it. Then we will debate its merits. My suspicions are somewhat allayed by the fact that I have confidence that Obama typically does the right thing in matters of social justice.

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