During Saturday's "Saddleback civil forum" with candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, pastor Rick Warren asked a single education question. (That he asked an education question at all was probably viewed as a major victory by Ed in '08.)
80 percent of Americans recently polled said they believe in merit pay. Now, for teachers, do you--I'm not asking do you think all teachers should get a raise. Do you think better teachers should be paid better? They should be paid more than poor teachers?
What a lame question. Not because merit pay isn't important, or because there aren't differences between the candidates. (Obama basically said "maybe" and McCain basically said "yes.")
It's lame because it has almost nothing to do with federal education policy. The program that all of this merit pay pandering is about--the Teacher Incentive Fund--provides $100 million per year to a handful of school districts. That's one-quarter of one percent of the federal K-12 budget. To be sure, this program has been an important driver of innovation, but it's tiny, and it impacts just a slender number of American schools.
What's especially disappointing is that Warren asked a number of...