Throughout this year's presidential campaign, it's become clear that there is very little Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama agree upon. However, the Wednesday, October 3rd debate did find one area of common ground: Race to the Top, the President's program to help improve public schools by improving accountability among teachers, is a good program.
I, too, believe that accountability in our schools is a good thing. That is why, in June of this year, I supported HB 1980, a bipartisan reform bill that provides greater accountability of teacher performance in Pennsylvania's schools. This legislation was supported by Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Pennsylvania Education Association.
It was supported by these varied groups because it is a common sense idea to help reach a common goal: providing a quality education to our children.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees – including Kevin Deely, the fiscally liberal union boss who opposed Race to the Top in his own school district, costing his local school district millions of dollars in important funding.
Deely opposed Race to the Top for a simple reason: money. Deely said that accepting Race to the Top would require "making changes to our contract."
Deely also opposed Race to the Top's accountability measures saying "To base a teacher's evaluation and their worth as an educator on how – how much their students grow, it – it just doesn't work that way."
I disagree with Mr. Deely. I think we should be doing everything we can to help ensure our children are learning. For Mr. Deely to say whether a child does or does not grow in the skills they are supposed to learn in the classroom is unimportant is, well, just patently ridiculous.
At a time when we as a country and a community need to come together to solve serious challenges, I am proud to have worked in a bipartisan manner for common sense initiatives like increasing accountability in our schools. It's clear from last night's debate that the President and Governor Romney feel the same. Sadly, Mr. Deely wants to continue down a radical path that will only perpetuate what's wrong with politics today.