The Swamp
Text size:  A A A A A

« Swamp Gas, November 20, 2007 | Main | Top turkey guests: The official list is out »

Obama plan: reward teachers, lengthen school time

Email Print Link
Election 2008
[What is this?]
Posted November 20, 2007 8:53 AM
The Swamp

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.

Digg Delicious Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo


Incentives for effective teachers is a good idea.

Although, to go along with it, we need a way to get rid of ineffective teachers, something that seems impossible under the teachers' unions.

It seems that this nation is always coming from behind to get it right in education. We have the resources to improve, but usually do not put the right brains in the right places to make a difference, as was the case with the numb nut that Bush made education secretary.

Obama also has an education plan to boost community colleges that is very exciting. These colleges are often the last gasp for many who aspire to higher education but cannot afford, or are unable to attend, a four year institution. I hope he also targets educational benefits for this new generation of veterans.

Mr. Obama seems to know where to target the resources and the energy, so maybe we can get on the path to getting it right this time.

Heavens, I actually agree with something from John Chuckman??

Anyway, I don't have a problem with incentives, per se, but teachers are increasingly making a pretty good buck (average pay in my ole high school district is in the $100,000 range). Doing a good job for the money one makes and knowing you did your best to prepare students for the next grade or life should be incentive enough.

I also give credit to Obama for even looking at cost savings in some other areas to pay for his plan.

But some of his savings areas are questionable. Cutting NASA also seems like an easy place, though in my view it's one of the worst to begin cuts. NASA should always be a priority, not an afterthought.

The problem with firing ineffective teachers is that there is nobody to take their place. It isn't like the best and brightest are waiting in line for those jobs. Most of the teachers I know in the local high school couldn't even pass the math portion of the state exit exams given to the students. Teaching is now a dumping ground for those who want summers off (although you do find exceptional teachers here and there). It should be demanded that teachers get real educations and stop these teacher's colleges from churning out diplomas.

Incentive pay for teachers good - let's see this get by the teacher's unions.

The problem I have with this, is why is thsi a federal gov't , and not a state or local gov't, issue?


Don't know what they pay teachers in Canada, but here in Illinois, they are well paid - take a look.

Obama plan:

Real, specific spending increase of $18 billion per year.

Vague promises of spending cuts to pay for the program.

This must be the "new leadership" Obama has been talking about.

Johnny D,
Please tell us what your old school district is so that we may expose your lie. Average teacher tenured and non-tenured makes 6 figures. Those numbers exceed Highland Park school district if we are to believe you. Also include the average salary of East St. Louis school districts please.


Check you own figures:

Dumb Dumb Janet, while this does not average it out per teacher, this link does show individual teacher salaries. The $100,000 may be a little high, but it is in the $90,000 range.

Lots o teachers in the district making in EXCESS of $100,000. In addition, I do not believe this number includes their pay including additional monies for things like helping with Student Council or other extracurrical activities.

And Dumb, Pitiful Janet, here is the teacher salaries for East St. Louis:

And Dumb, Pitiful Janet, just to the end of the B names, I counted nearly 40 who were making in excess of $60,000 a year.

I am not begrudging teachers a good salary, but they are not poor.

A friend of mine has been teaching in the District 211 since college, six years now. She is making $65,000 a year. She is not even 30 yet. Not too shabby in my book.

I love how NASA is always the first thing to be cut. Its budget is 0.6% of federal spending, with many agencies losing more money than that amount in a year. If the Constellation program is suspended by five years, then the US will not have the capability to reach space for about ten years after the shuttle retires-longer than the post-Apollo gap. NASA can inspire kids a lot more than an excessively rewarded teacher. For the price of six cents per ten dollars the government spends, I think that the opportunity to support manned spaceflight to near earth objects is certainly worth it. Now I'm angry...

Delay NASA Constellation funding by five years? I have supported Obama for several years but I really don't understand how someone who says he stands up for math and science education can say that delaying the Constellation Program, one of the biggest assets for inspiring America's youth to pursue math and science in the first place, is a good idea. This will make us lose a huge chunk of the aerospace workforce in manned space exploration and we should get used to Chinese astronauts being on the moon long before the U.S. can return. PLEASE Barack- find the money elsewhere!

How dare those teachers want to make decent salaries! The nerve of them! They should all be willing to work for the minimum wage and scrounge leftovers from the school cafeterias to feed thier families.

Pathetic how folks like John D and Terry feel teachers are paid too much.

The median income in 2006 was $48,000. $60,000 grand for a position requiring a college degree after 6 years experience is really a pretty lousy salary. But hey , their just teaching our kids. Screw 'em, right guys?

For the amount of responsibility, time-off and pay, teachers are in an average profession as far as pay. Depending on where they teach, pay could vary significantly.
You all should read this article at

This is why I am not voting for Obama. He is inexperience.

Tell me how lengthening school time helps with education? It's the quality of education not the time. I can sit in a class with a bad teacher, no proper tools, and outdated books, all day and not learn anything.

A good education is where a school has all the qualified teachers, tools, updated equipments, updated technologies, and updated textbook.

A good education is a system where students go to class and have the opportunity to learn and apply their knowledge because it is interesting.

A good education is a school where someone's kid doesn't have to worry about getting beat up. Seperate those who wants to learn and don't want to learn.

A good education is affordable college. If someone's kid is going to end up with $100,000 loans when he or she graduates; why would anyone attend?

A system of reward for excellent teacher is flawed. Who decides? How do you measure? Is it a popularity contest? It has to be measurable and consistent. It should be tied to test results or something that can be scientifically proven. For example, did all her or his students learn the basics?

John D. and Terry,
Are those salary figures the take home pay or is it inflated because it includes the costs of employee benefits as part of their salary? According to my company my I earn $10000 more if you include my other non pay benefits. It's a good way to lure job seekers by showing them the inflated numbers. Too bad you can only pay your bills with the money you actually take home though.

I know teachers are well paid in Illinois. I know a couple of them.

But pay which rewards merit and punishes lack of skill is found nowhere on the continent so far as I know.

Lil Janet, that is SALARY, not salary plus benefits.

The alleged "teachers rule," please show me where I begrudge good pay for teachers or think they make too much.


I just laid out the facts for you to decide.


I am not sure if that is just salary or includes benefits. My guess, is it is salary, since teachers have nice healthcare benfits, absent time benefits, and pensions.


I'm all in favor of incentive pay, but you want to see the unions have a cow.

At our company, the union bought into our incentive pay for one year as long as we met corporate goals, the union employees would share EQUALLY in the incentives. They did it for one year only, even though their members benefitted. I can't figure union leadership logic.

How can you determine an effective teacher without looking at test results? We should try a similar tact with our sports teams and save those men the travel time and injuries. We could even run computer simulations that are as accurate as those predicting global warming and fans can come to a concensus on the champs.

10 year gap in our space-flight capability is unacceptable. Find the money in some other larger and more wasteful program. NASA is already a very thin slice of the federal budget.

"No Buck Rogers = no vote"

LOL. Dumb Dumb Johnny D. you are the worst journalist. From the site you and Terry linked:

"The word "salary" used here is synonymous with "compensation." According to the ISBE, the technical term for the data we post is "total creditable earnings."

Public school employees are compensated in many ways. The numbers we post are the official "total creditable earnings" that school districts report annually to the Illinois State Board of Education.

According to the ISBE, the annual salary data reported to them is the same as the "total creditable earnings" reported to the Teachers Retirement System. It includes, among other things, extra-duty pay (coaching, clubs, etc.), board-paid retirement contributions, vacation and sick day buyouts, bonuses, and other compensation that the Teachers Retirement System includes in total creditable earnings."

The part of the NASA budget we could kill is that of the chief bookcooker on global warming/cooling - Dr James Hansen. Yes he has taken bothsides of this issue.

Analysis of Obama Proposal: providing $18B to the government to fix the edcuation problem assumes 1. that money is the problem and 2. that more money would fix the problem. As has been occuring over the last 40 + years every time you add more money to a federal program it gets worst and the education system is no exception. However people have been conditioned to believe that more money will fix a problem in a bureaucratic program yet there is no evidence to support that belive. Thats's why Obama and the rest of the bunch are throwing your money left and right to supposedly "fix" things. As a not so famous radio commentator says "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"

Dumb Dumb Janet, from that same source comes this: "This salary data does not include the cost of employer-paid health insurance."

The salary data includes vacation or sick day buyout. It also includes any extra-curricular activities, so I was wrong on that score. But the fact remains, it is their pay, money in their paycheck.

Funny how you leave that information out and funny how you do not understand what vacation and sick day buyout means. What is does mean, Dumb Dumb Janet, is that if a teacher works an entire year or most of a year and does not use any vacation or sick days, he/she can be compensated for that time. If you use those days while employed, you do not make any extra money.
Now, come districts can make it that you can receive monetary compensation for unused days, whether you voluntarily leave your job or not.

Let me help you, Dumb Dumb Janet. If you worked all year at your job and left it in November with only using 5 of your 10 vacation days, you would get compensated for those unused 5 vacation days. If you stayed at your job all year and used only 5 of the 10 days, more than likely you would not get money for those days. You could carry them over or lose them altogether.

Do you understand, Dumb Dumb Janet???

I'm behind Barack on this education plan, with a single exception. He needs to find the money for it elsewhere. NOT by cutting back NASA's budget, especially for Constellation. Hell, NASA needs MORE funding, not less. Barack, we're behind you on this, but find the money elsewhere. Keep NASA strong!

We have a real problem in
Osama Obama get's in the Whitehouse. He is not too good at math if he thinks by cutting NASA and delaying the Constellation program 5 years will buy him anything. He ought to go cut out 30% out of the federal budget that goes to Pork and pet projects that do not contribute 7% -10% to our economy such as NASA does. But that assumes he gets to the White House which is a stretch for someone who does fuzzy math.

Lil Janet, that is SALARY, not salary plus benefits.

Posted by: John D | November 20, 2007 2:09 PM

Do you understand, Dumb Dumb Janet???

Posted by: John D | November 20, 2007 4:44 PM

Yes, I understand. You were incorrect in your assertation of the definition of salary for this study and you are not man enough to admit it.

So Obama wants to fund education by defunding another education program?How incredibly short sighted.

We constantly hear how this country doesn't porduce enough scientists and engineers. How many of our current crop were inspired by NASA's exploits in space? I know I sure was.

From 1975 to 1981 the USA had no human spaceflight capability, our enemy the USSR exploited this continually. As the USA sits for 10 years, what will our adversaries do?

The USA must expand it sphere of influence to include the Solar System. If we don't someone else will. Do you want to pass through Chinese customs on the way to the Moon or Mars?

Our children need to know the dreams they have today become the reality of tomorrow. Don't deny them the future.

Is he serious no Americans in Space for 10 years? Meanwhile Chinese will be walking and building a base on the moon. We spend pennies a day on NASA I would argue we need to spend a little more the speed up the Constellation program which will inspire more students to study math and science. This guy isn’t ready for prime time.

I think Usamah is crazy. Than again after 11 years at NASA I'm getting out for good behavior....

Post a comment

(Anonymous comments will not be posted. Comments aren't posted immediately. They're screened for relevance to the topic, obscenity, spam and over-the-top personal attacks. We can't always get them up as soon as we'd like so please be patient. Thanks for visiting The Swamp.)

Please enter the letter "m" in the field below:


News, but funnier


Those were the days
More Handelsman
Editorial cartoons



Iraq War 5th anniversary


Campaign trail



Your Obama IQ