by Christi Parsons
Barack Obama is planning to unveil an education plan today that would make affordable pre-school programs more widely available and offer pay incentive programs for effective teachers.
It would also allow schools to lengthen the teaching day or the school year. The $18 billion annual program would be offset by savings and cuts in federal agencies, including NASA.
According to the Obama camp, the idea about teacher incentives is not the same thing as merit pay, a concept long opposed by teachers' unions. It would not be tied to test scores and would be available to districts that wanted to "innovate" with new programs.
The cost of the early education plan would come partly from delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years, cutting costs in the government procurement process and auctioning surplus federal property. The Obama plan also cites "closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole" and ending the Iraq war as other ways to pay for the program.