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President Barack Obama says he backs the idea of merit pay for the best school teachers — a position that his union supporters have fought.

Obama on Tuesday told a meeting of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.”

Teacher unions have strongly opposed bringing such a system to public education. But in his talk, Obama said the time has come to do just that.

He said that “too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay.” He said the resistance has continued “even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he backs the idea of merity pay the best school teachers — a position that his union supporters have fought.

Obama on Tuesday told a meeting of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.”

Teacher unions have strongly opposed bringing such a system to public education. But in his talk, Obama said the time has come to do just that.

He said that “too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay.” He said the resistance has continued “even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom.”

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