It is not surprising that Education Secretary Arne Duncan drew a few boos from the crowd when he spoke last week at the National Education Association's annual meeting in Washington.
"I came here today to challenge you to think differently about the role of unions in public education," Duncan told those at the meeting. "It's not enough to focus only on issues like job security, tenure, compensation and evaluation," he explained.
"You must be willing to change" Duncan told the NEA members.
Most of the NEA delegates applauded Duncan - and that is a good sign. We hope that means the union will reverse its longstanding opposition to merit pay, a progressive idea that is being advocated by the education secretary.
For too long, NEA leaders have advocated spending more across the board for schools. No state can afford that. Targeted spending - paying more for results, not just paying more - is the only viable option, as Duncan seems to understand.
We encourage him and President Barack Obama to pursue that policy - and we urge the NEA to support it.