Presidential candidates promote merit pay
National Public Radio had a story earlier this week about Barack Obama and John McCain's education platforms. A transcript is posted here, along with an audio link.
A couple interesting points the story made: Both of the candidates support merit pay for teachers. Obama has taken this position even though unions tend to oppose merit pay and the two major teachers unions are supporting him.
Obama has also proposed requiring all colleges of education to be accredited and rating how they do in preparing teachers. According to the story, one of his advisers is Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford education professor who believes strongly in the importance of teacher preparation. Darling-Hammond is a leading critic of alternative certification programs such as Teach for America (which, incidentally, is holding a press conference in Baltimore today to announce financial support for the program from the City Council). However, another of Obama's advisers is Michael Johnston from New Leaders for New Schools, which is essentially an alternative certification program for principals.
Both Obama and McCain support changing No Child Left Behind, but neither wants to scrap it altogether. McCain is interested in providing more tutoring to struggling students. Obama says NCLB is inadequately funded, and he wants to work with states to develop better tests measuring what students have learned and where they have weaknesses.