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Obama's Education Plan to Reform Schools & Reward Teachers


Obama's Education Plan to Reform Schools & Reward Teachers

Photo taken on Nov 20, 2007: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Part Two: Recruit, Support, Reward Teachers
The second part of my education plan is to recruit, support, and reward teachers and principals to ensure that every school in America is filled with outstanding educators.

We know that from the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it's not who their parents are or how much money they have.

It's who their teacher is. It's the man or woman who stays past the last bell and spends their own money on books and supplies.

It's people like my sister who go beyond the call of duty because she believes that's what makes the extra difference. And it does.

Treat Teachers Like Professionals
Well if we know how much teaching matters, it's time America started acting like it. It's time we treated teaching like the profession it is.

I don't want to just talk about how great teachers are - I want to be a President who rewards them for their greatness.

U.S. to Pay for College Education of Teachers
That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals to replace the generation that's retiring and to keep up with the record number of students entering our schools.

We'll create a new Service Scholarship program to recruit top talent into the profession, and begin by placing these new teachers in areas like the overcrowded districts of Nevada, or struggling rural towns here in New Hampshire, or hard-to-staff subjects like math and science in schools all across the nation.

And I will make this pledge as President - if you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education.

Preparing New Teachers
To prepare our new teachers, we'll require that all schools of education are accredited, and we'll evaluate their outcomes so that we know which ones are doing the best job at preparing the best teachers.

We'll also create a voluntary national performance assessment that actually looks at how prospective teachers can plan, teach, and support student learning, so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively.

New Hampshire is already leading the way here by having designed a performance-based educator preparation system, and the national assessment I'm proposing would help states like this one achieve their goals for state-of-the-art preparation of all teachers.

Mentoring Programs for Teachers
To support our teachers, we will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced, successful teachers with new recruits.

We know that mentoring is one of the most effective ways to retain the one-third of new teachers who leave the profession in the first five years.

In states that have tried this, like California, only five percent of new teachers have quit. As President, I will expand these mentoring programs nationwide to give all our teachers the chance to succeed.

And I will also make sure that teachers have the conditions in which they can succeed - including excellent principals who support their work, the materials they need to teach effectively, and time to plan and collaborate with one another on improving instruction.

Reward Teachers with Increased Pay and Resources
And where they do succeed - where our teachers and principals go above and beyond the call to make a real difference in our children's lives - I think it's time we rewarded them for it.

Cities like Denver have already proven that by working with teachers, this can work - that we can find new ways to increase pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them and not just based on an arbitrary test score.

My plan would provide resources to try these innovative programs in school districts all across America.

Under my Career Ladder Initiative, these districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as mentors to new teachers with the salary increase they deserve. They can reward those who teach in underserved places like rural New Hampshire and across urban America.

And if teachers acquire additional knowledge and skills to serve students better - if they consistently excel in the classroom - that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Peer Review Plans to Evaluate Teachers
Now, if we do all this and find that there are teachers who are still struggling and underperforming, we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they're still underperforming after that, we should find a quick and fair way to put another teacher in that classroom.

Teacher associations and school boards in a number of cities have led the way by developing peer assistance and review plans that do exactly this - setting professional standards that put children first. We owe our teachers that, and we owe our children that.

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