Obama Hosts Cyber Town Hall - Page 21 of 23

Obama Hosts Cyber Town Hall

So what we want to do is not completely eliminate standardized tests — there’s a role for standardized tests. All of us have taken them and they serve a function. We just don’t want it to be the only thing. So we want to work with teachers to figure out how do we get peer review, how do we have evaluation — I was just talking to Bill Gates yesterday and he was talking about the use of technology where you can use videos to look at really successful teachers and how they interact with their students, how they’re monitoring students, et cetera, and then you bring in the teachers at the end of the day and, just like a coach might be talking to his players about how you see how on that play you should have been here and you could have done that — same thing with teachers.

But they don’t get that feedback. Usually, especially beginning teachers are completely isolated. They’re in this classroom — they’re sort of just thrown in to sink or swim. Instead, let’s use a variety of mechanisms to assess and constantly improve teacher performance.

Now, one thing I have to say — I know you’ll admit this, although maybe you can’t on TV, but in private I’ll bet you’d admit that during the — how long have you been teaching?

Q Fifteen years.

THE PRESIDENT: Fifteen years. Okay, so you’ve been teaching for 15 years. I’ll bet you’ll admit that during those 15 years there have been a couple of teachers that you’ve met — you don’t have to say their names — (laugher) — who you would not put your child in their classroom. (Laughter.) See? Right? You’re not saying anything. (Laughter.) You’re taking the Fifth. (Laughter.)

My point is that if we’ve done everything we can to improve teacher pay and teacher performance and training and development, some people just aren’t meant to be teachers, just like some people aren’t meant to be carpenters, some people aren’t meant to be nurses. At some point they’ve got to find a new career.

And it can’t be impossible to move out bad teachers, because that brings — that makes everybody depressed in a school, if there are some folks — and it makes it harder for the teachers who are inheriting these kids the next year for doing their job.

So there’s got to be some accountability measures built in to this process. But I’m optimistic that we can make real progress on this front. But it’s going to take some time. All right?

DR. BERNSTEIN: Mr. President, we have —

THE PRESIDENT: How many times —

DR. BERNSTEIN: One more question, please.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, one more question. Now, yelling — just saying it right here is not going to get you the question. (Laughter.) You know what I’m going to do, is — I hope I don’t seem biased here; I’m going to go with a young person here. Last question — at least younger than me. (Laughter.)