Obama made the comment amid public battles between states and teachers unions regarding the teacher tenure system that places a higher value on time served than on job performance. Most notably, in Wisconsin there is a state union-led drive to recall Gov. Scott Walker, who has among other things challenged the teacher tenure system in his state.
Obama did not delve into the matter of teacher accountability and spent most of his 10-minute speech in the White House East Room ceremony speaking about the winner of the National Teacher of the Year Award Rebecca Mieliwocki, a seventh grade teacher in Burbank, Calif.
“Rebecca said in applying for this award, she said that in some ways it’s harder than ever to be an educator,” the president said. “Even in the best of times, teachers are asked to do more with less, and today, with our economy still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, states and communities have to stretch budgets tighter than ever.”
“So we’ve got a particular responsibility as elected officials in difficult times, instead of bashing teachers to support them,” Obama continued. “We should be giving states the resources to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best ones, and we should grant our educators the flexibility to teach with creativity and passion in the classroom and not just teaching to the test. And we should allow schools to replace teachers, who, even with the right resources and support, just aren’t helping our kids to learn.”