House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.

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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2009

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Kline, Price Discuss Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality, Ensure Effective Teachers for All Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republicans today called attention to the importance of effective teachers in improving student academic achievement and highlighted innovative, locally driven strategies to improve overall teacher quality and reward effective educators. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) offered remarks to open a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee on “Teacher Equity: Effective Teachers for All Children.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testified on legislation he is introducing today to help states and schools establish performance pay systems to reward teachers and principals for their success in the classroom.

Excerpts from Rep. Kline’s opening statement:

Study after study has shown that effective, knowledgeable teachers are among the most important factors when it comes to improving student academic achievement. High-quality teachers are more important than state-of-the-art facilities or factors such as the student-to-teacher ratio. …

Of course, if we want to ensure high-quality teachers are in our neediest classrooms, we should work to improve the quality of all teachers. That means strengthening teacher colleges and professional development opportunities for current teachers. It means embracing alternative certification and training programs that can bring professionals from other fields into our classrooms. It means exploring innovative programs already being implemented at the local level such as the Teacher Advancement Program, which we will discuss today. And it means discarding rigid rules and practices that put adults ahead of students. …

The lesson to be learned is that the federal government ought to proceed with caution as we attempt to improve the quality of our teaching workforce. We are right to shine a spotlight on this issue, and I’m glad to be having this hearing today. But we should be wary of a federal solution that attempts to dictate where teachers should teach, limit prospective teachers to a single path toward certification, or define what makes a good teacher.

Excerpts from Rep. Price’s testimony:

The goal of this particular hearing is to examine the progress states and localities have made toward ensuring every child is taught by an effective teacher.  In order to accomplish this, some have mistakenly believed that we can only realize a type of equal distribution through government mandates.  In fact to the contrary, mandates, combined with tenure rules and collective bargaining agreements, make this more difficult.  Such a framework creates rigidity in labor markets and puts up more hurdles and barricades.

It is why Republicans in the House of Representatives have rejected this approach and embraced a much different path.  For the third Congress in a row, Republicans on this Committee are introducing the Teacher Incentive Fund Act, a measure designed to place more high quality teachers in the most hard to staff localities through the implementation of performance-based compensation systems. …

The Teacher Incentive Fund does not operate through a series of mandates, but rather it relies on granting as much flexibility as possible to local school districts to create their own unique systems.  It rejects a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington and places local schools and districts in a position to succeed without permanent interference from Congress. …

Creating opportunities, incentives and rewards via traditional market forces – not mandates – will lower teacher attrition rates and make teaching jobs in hard to staff schools more attractive.  If we want every child taught by a highly effective teacher, let’s create the mechanisms to do so through the Teacher Incentive Fund.

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