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ERIC Number: ED513543
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 23
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Advancing Performance Pay in the Obama Administration: The Influence of Political Strategy and Alternative Priorities. Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series. PEPG 10-04
Smarick, Andrew
Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University, Paper prepared for the PEPG Conference "Merit Pay: Will It Work? Is It Politically Viable?" (Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, Jun 3-4, 2010)
Even the most cursory look at the current administration's approach to performance pay reveals a noteworthy story. Unlike all of his Democratic predecessors--and some of his Republican ones--President Obama not only appreciates the value of differentiating the compensation of teachers based on a effectiveness, he has put energy and money behind the cause. Digging a little deeper, one can find a second story worth telling. Both during his upstart presidential campaign and since his inauguration, Obama and his team have attempted to delicately navigate the channel between two important Democratic constituencies: establishment organizations--particularly teachers unions--opposed to performance pay and the increasingly prominent education reform crowd that generally supports it. The results to date demonstrate the difficulty of bridging this divide. But below these layers is something far more fascinating and important. The administration's position on performance pay is wrapped up in two much larger issues--first, how the administration envisions the federal government driving change in states and districts, and second, how the administration sees differentiated compensation fitting into broader efforts to reform the teaching profession. These three stories are told through an analysis of speeches made by Senator and President Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan and the administration's handling of two prominent federal programs, the Teacher Incentive Fund and the Race to the Top. This paper ultimately reaches two major conclusions. First, though the administration's tentativeness on performance pay can be partially explained by its deference to organized labor, a larger factor is its interest in creating a new and comprehensive framework for teacher quality. Second, the administration's strategy for generating change through a combination of incentives, collaboration, and optional reforms did not initially bear much fruit for performance pay, but it lay still have important long-term benefits--for this issue and beyond. (Contains 5 figures and 16 endnotes.)
Program on Education Policy and Governance. Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Taubman 304, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-495-7976; Fax: 617-496-4428; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard University, Program on Education Policy and Governance