From my experience running for local school board in 1994, this type of statement is generally a heresy with the National Education Association that merits burning at the stake. I salute Obama for having the guts to say what needed to be said. I hope he watches his back - the NEA is very good at sticking a stilleto in your ribs. Here's a part of the story as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama today endorsed the idea of merit pay for teachers before an audience hostile to the idea, the giant National Education Association, but he softened the blow by telling the union's national assembly that he would not use "arbitrary tests" to link pay to performance.
"I think there should be ways for us to work with the NEA, with teachers' unions, to figure out a way to measure success," Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. "I want to work with teachers. I'm not going to do it too you, I'm going to do it with you."
He promised more pay "across the board" for teachers and extra incentives for those willing to work in lower-performing schools in urban and rural areas, though he noted that he would release the details of those goals and other education policies at a later date.
The full sorty is here: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/8335627.html