Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama's Education Speech: Change I'd Like to Believe In

For decades, Washington has been trapped in the same stale debates that have paralyzed progress and perpetuated our educational decline. Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom. Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance. So what we get here in Washington is the same old debate about it's more money versus more reform, vouchers versus the status quo. There's been partisanship and petty bickering, but little recognition that we need to move beyond the worn fights of the 20th century if we're going to succeed in the 21st century. President Barack Obama

So what is he calling for?

1. a bill that establishes a grant program that rewards states that develop plans improving upon their early childhood education.

2. linking No Child Left Behind funding to results in childhood education to encourage states into raising their standards for success

3. investing in data systems that track student progress

4. carrots & sticks for teachers (treating them as "professionals")
a. extra pay to math and science teachers to fill in teaching gap
b. teacher mentoring
c. merit pay - extra pay based upon student results
d. abolishing/revamping teacher tenure (failure should not be rewarded)

5. charter schools -
a. calls on states to lift caps on # of charter schools'
b. calls on states to impose rigorous standards, "selection & review process"
so that failing charter schools are closed and successful ones preserved

6. More hours of Learning - longer days or longer school seasons
7. Affordable college education
a. simplifying loans
b. Pell Grant Raised
c. $2,500 tuition tax credit for working families

Now, if only the Democrats who spend too much time championing the school-funding-with-no-strings-attached approach and the Republicans who who spend too much time championing the accountability-with-no-resources-to-help-schools approach would listen to him. And now, if and when he is confronted by the naysayers and demagogues from from both wings, Obama fights back.


The San Francisco Chronicle, of all papers, is taking the same approach but the editorial writers too, would like to see his actions speak louder than his words.

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