WASHINGTON — Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers’ Association union, was among the invited speakers Friday as President Barack Obama unveiled $4 billion in competitive school improvement grants.
The "Race to the Top" program — part of the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus plan — seeks to encourage student achievement through merit pay for teachers, common national standards, and an easier path for those seeking to open new charter schools.
"This competition will not be based on politics or ideology or the preferences of a particular interest group," Obama said, referring to the grant program. "Instead, it will be based on a simple principle: whether a state is ready to do what works."
In her remarks at the Department of Education, Clements said the district has made progress toward those goals, but it has not been easy.
"Teachers will be the first to tell you that the process of teacher evaluation in this country is broken, and it needs to be fixed," Clements said.
She said it was important to protect teachers' planning time, avoid placing arbitrary limits on merit pay, and give principals the autonomy and resources to run their schools effectively.
Other speakers included U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith.
For complete coverage of the event, visit the Gradebook blog at http://blogs.tampabay.com/schools/.