Well, I was wrong. Barack Obama took the bull by the horns today in accepting the endorsement of the National Education Association Representative Assembly. He spoke live via satellite from Butte, Montana, with a group of local teachers behind him.
He expressed support for much of NEA’s agenda – overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act, higher pay, college tuition for new teachers, etc. – but he also specifically noted his backing of charter schools (around the 4:45 mark of the video) and caused quite a stir, including some very loud booing, when he said (around the 6:10 mark):
“Under my plan, districts will be able to design programs to give educators who serve them as mentors to new teachers the salary increases they’ve earned. They’ll be able to reward those who teach underserved areas or take on added responsibility. As teachers learn new skills or serve their students better or if they consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.”
After the booing, Obama said, “I know this wasn’t necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then, and I’m saying it again today, because it is what I believe.”