This vote was on an amendment by Tom Price, R-Ga., that would increase the Teacher Incentive Fund by $21 million, paid for by reducing Teacher Quality States Grants by an equal amount. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds the Labor, Health and Education departments in fiscal 2008.
The Teacher Incentive Fund allows states and school districts to apply for federal grants to develop and implement performance-based compensation for teachers and principals.
"With the Teacher Incentive Fund, educators who improve student achievement in the classroom are provided with financial rewards such as bonuses and increasing salaries," Price said. "This money can be directly given to local districts to create compensation systems and therefore recruit and reward outstanding teachers. Nothing wrong with rewarding the best and brightest when it comes to educating our children."
David Obey, D-Wis., said he was "confused" by the amendment.
"What this amendment would do is it would take the dollars in question out of a program which provides aid to all States in the Union and instead reserve that money for use in just the few States who have bought into the approach that is supported by" Price, Obey said. "One of my favorite quotations is from Eric Sevareid, who used to be on CBS News a few years ago, and he said, 'It is important to maintain the courage of one's doubts in an age of dangerous certainties.' And I have to say that I have a lot of doubts about what is the most effective way to teach children. I don't think I have all the answers. I don't think this House has all the answers. So I don't think we ought to be dictating to States what answers they seek in their teacher quality programs."
By a vote of 149-247, the amendment was rejected. All but three Democrats present voted against the amendment. Of Republicans present, 146 voted for the amendment and 52 voted against it. The end result is that an amendment that would have shifted $21 million from Teacher Quality States Grants to the Teacher Incentive Fund was defeated.