Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Education -> Teaching

The Promise: "Will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels"
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education, dated 10/16/08.
Status:The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $4.3B targeted for the State Incentive Grant Fund, popularly referred to as the "Race to the Top" fund, and $2.5B for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Department of Education's (DOE's) "Transition to Training" program was designed to recruit and retain highly qualified mid-career professionals to teach at high-need schools. This program was funded at the $43.7M level in FY2009 and FY2010, but funding started to decrease in FY2011 with a $41.1M appropriation. For FY2012, Congress appropriated $26.0M for this program.

In his budget proposal for FY2013, President Obama requested $1B for the creation of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. This Corps would be comprised of some of the nation's best educators in STEM subjects beginning with 50 exceptional STEM teachers at 50 sites, particularly in high-need and rural schools.

President Obama signed the "Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)" (S.1177) into law on 12/10/15 to replace the "No Child Left Behind Act." Title II of this Act, entitled "Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders," focuses on "...developing and providing professional development and other comprehensive systems of support for teachers, principals, or other school leaders to promote high-quality instruction and instructional leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects, including computer science."

The STEM Master Teacher Corps was codified under Part A of Title II of the ESSA. Part A is authorized to be funded at the $2.295B level each fiscal year from FY2017 through FY2020.

This promise was fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:Students aspiring to pursue a teaching profession have hundreds of sources, both public and private, from which to seek scholarships.

Throughout President Obama's two terms in office, there was no known initiative to create a "new Teacher Service Scholarships" program at the national level.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:In CY1987, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was created to define and recognize accomplished teaching. National Board Standards are created by teachers, for teachers, as is National Board Certification, which is a voluntary process to certify teachers against those standards.

The standards define what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do in 25 certificate areas. They represent 16 different subject areas, four developmental levels, and are applicable to most teachers in U.S. public schools.

As of CY2016, more than 112,000 teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved National Board Certification.

The National Board is currently revising the certification process to incorporate the latest research on best practices in teaching and to remove a few existing barriers so that more teachers have the opportunity to achieve voluntary certification.

There is no evidence that the creation of a new "voluntary national performance assessment" was in the works at any time during President Obama's two terms in office.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. They will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:Early in his presidency, President Obama signed into law the on 02/17/09 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)." The ARRA provided $4.35B for the "Race to the Top Fund," a competitive grant program designed to reward States for creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes; ensuring student preparation for success in college and careers; and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas.

One of the four core education reform areas was
"...recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals." One of the measures to accomplish this goal included "observation-based assessments of teacher performance or evidence of leadership roles (which may include mentoring or leading professional learning communities) that increase the effectiveness of other teachers in the school..."

The Department of Education's (DOE) FY2010 appropriation included $2.9B for state grants for improving teacher quality. This program helped states carry out activities that included support during initial teaching phases such as mentoring programs.

The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), introduced by President Bush in his FY2006 budget proposal, was designed to support the use of performance-based compensation. The TIF was funded at $97M for FY2009 under President Bush, supplemented by $200M under the ARRA initiated by President Obama. Funding was further increased to $400M under President Obama's first budget year, FY2010. In light of prevailing fiscal constraints, funding for the TIF was reduced during subsequent years as follows:


In FY2015, the TIF was renamed the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Fund. Funding for this renamed program was as follows:

FY2017....$250.0M (Requested)

Under the ARRA "Race to the Top Fund," mentoring programs were expanded and teacher incentives were increased.

This promise was fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay"
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:According to National Education Association (NEA) reports, the average teacher salary for the 2009-10 School Year (SY) when President Obama assumed the presidency was about $55.2K with the highest average in New York State ($71.6K) and the lowest in South Dakota ($38.8K).

The U.S. average public school teacher salary for SY2014-15 was $57.4K. New York had the highest average ($77.6K), and South Dakota remained with the lowest average ($40.9K).

The NEA estimates that over the decade from SY2004-05 to SY2014-15, in constant dollars (an adjusted value to compare dollar values from one period to another), average salaries for teachers decreased 1.6%.

Under President Obama's education reform blueprint, merit pay would be replaced by a "pay-for-performance" plan, the premise of which was to reward teachers for evaluations, test scores and other new criteria.

The President's blueprint stated: "Grantees may use funds to reform compensation systems to provide differentiated compensation and career advancement opportunities to educators who are effective in increasing student academic achievement...". The blueprint further stated: "Rewards may include financial share best practices and replicate successful strategies to assist low-performing schools and districts."

To help the blueprint become reality, President Obama proposed $5B in teacher incentives as part of his FY2013 $69.8B Department of Education budget proposal. This initiative was not accepted by Congress.

Nonetheless, using grants available to them such as the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund, some states have robust "pay-for-performance" programs. President Obama's promise was to "promote" ways to increase teacher pay, and he did.

This promise was fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:Teacher Residency Programs existed in cities such as Boston, Baltimore, Denver, Philadelphia, Memphis, San Francisco, and many more long before President Obama came on the scene.

At the national level, funding for these programs was assured under the Department of Education's budget line item entitled "Teacher Quality Partnership" (TQP). This program aimed to improve the quality of teachers in high-need schools and early childhood education programs by creating model teacher preparation programs and teaching residency programs.

FY2009 funding for TQP was $43M, supplemented by $100M under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. TQP funding for FY2014 and FY2015 was $40.5M respectively.

The bottom line is that this was an empty promise which could not be fulfilled because Teacher Residency Programs already existed.

This promise was not fulfilled.