Teacher Incentive Fund

The Obama administration has proposed a very large increase in the federal government’s Teacher Incentive Fund, a program that lets districts apply for competitive grants to get money for programs that help them retain and reward the most effective teachers and administrators. Like a lot of Obama administration ideas, this one has run into some trouble on the Hill. Some Senators represent states that just basically don’t have the kind of high-poverty schools with high concentrations of minorities that are the intended beneficiaries of these sorts of reforms. Other members just prefer to see federla money spread around across a large number of pet projects rather than focused on a few targeted initiatives. And the national teacher’s unions don’t like anything that involves shifting to a performance model for compensation.

Obviously, the whole idea of incentive- or performance-based pay is controversial on its own terms. But the debate has spurred a bunch of basically red herring arguments from opponents looking for other reasons to bring down the TIF boost. Fortunately, CAP’s Robin Chait and Raegan Miller are on the case with a useful “myths vs facts” document on the issue.