On Education, Obama Anything but Left of Center

By Tom Hanson | Related entries in Education

There are of course many folks who think President Barack Obama is trying to do too much too soon. Republicans, looking for every chance to assert their differences, have hammered on the president in recent days for not focusing his attention solely on the economy.

However, having run a campaign featuring the word hope and the call for a better future, the president has always insisted he would look to rebuild our country if given the chance to lead. Provided with that chance, on Tuesday Obama took a much-needed step toward a more prosperous country by addressing America’s maligned educational system.

And this time, he took a play out of the recent Republican playbook with calls for greater accountability and his endorsement of a GOP mainstay, the idea of school choice. But he did so on his terms and his steadfast focus on a long-term approach to rebuilding the country.

Obama on education.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 and is filed under Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “On Education, Obama Anything but Left of Center”

  1. SD3 Says:

    OK, so where’s all the outrage on the left? School choice is suddenly better than sliced bread?

  2. The Maine View Says:

    For a long time it wasn’t easy being an education reform minded democrat. You were labeled a fascist who wanted to turn schools into business or military establishments. No one cared if you said it was better for the kids and not the adults.

    Thanks to Obama we can stand proud and be thankful there are more than a few of us who are brave enough no to toe the party line on this issue.

    Believe me SD3, there is outrage. Read any number of education blogs comments and you’ll see it. Like I said, most adults care about preserving their jobs at any cost, even if they are bad teachers. They forget this is about teaching children.

  3. SD3 Says:

    You were labeled a fascist who wanted to turn schools into business or military establishments.

    C’mon, show me anything the left opposes that isn’t labled ‘fascist’ or ‘militaristic’.

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    How about tax policy? Liberal criticism of conservative tax policy is not usually criticized through that lens, but rather through a lens of determining what represents egalitarianism.

  5. The Maine View Says:

    Too many who label themselves liberal cannot see that egalitarian school reform does not mean pandering to selfish teachers or saying that because a child comes from a bad background he or she can’t learn.

    Teaching isn’t easy, we know that. A lot of jobs aren’t easy. Policing isn’t easy, but we don’t excuse the police for increasing crime rates. Being a doctors is difficult, but they are held to high standards. Why shouldn’t those preparing our children for life be held to high standards as well.

  6. kranky kritter Says:

    I don’t even know what “egalitarian school reform” means.

    I don’t hear any teachers claiming that teachers ought not to be held to high standards. I don’t hear anyone saying we ought to pander to selfish teachers. (OK, maybe unions a little bit, I’ll giver you that.) And I don’t hear anyone saying that a child from a bad background can’t learn. Who exactly do you hear saying this? I am mystified.

    Children from “bad backgrounds” do often have deficits and present unique challenges to teachers. That’s just noticing the obvious, and we’re all fools if we sweep it aside. But it certainly doesn’t mean such children can’t learn. Far from it. Children are resilient.

    It’s extremely important to notice what the ed system needs to do in order to help kids from “bad backgrounds” bounce back. Kids are like plants. If you transplant them from an environment of poor soil, light, and water to an environment of rich soil, good light, and regular water, they will begin to thrive.

    The challenge for teachers with such children is that teachers are at best one piece of the solution. To continue the plant analogy, teachers can indeed be considered to be the better light or the richer soil or the regular water, but they can’t be expected to be all 3. Because they have pretty incomplete control over a child’s living conditions or familial stability.

    Folks who are serious about ed reform need to acknowledge and address that.

  7. The Maine View Says:

    Really? I hear people using a child’s background as en excuse for poor learning progress all the time. You just aren’t surfing the same blogs. I have seen the argument made that schools in poor areas will have lower scores just because they are in poor areas many times. Why do you think they always ask for more money. That’s what status quo reform seems to emphasize.

    The unions totally pander to teachers regardless of their quality. Why do you think tenure is so easily attained?

    I agree that teachers can and should nurture their students and always promote their success first. We can acknowledge that each child will come from a different starting place, but we can’t be ruled by that.

    School is not that place to effect social change on a community. School prepares students to go out into the world and make those changes.

  8. kranky kritter Says:

    Do you think there’s any difference between “using it as an excuse” versus acknowledging that it can account for less progress?

    I don’t think that you are asking me why schools in poor areas ask for more money, but it sure sounds like it. You’re not really surprised that schools in wealthy towns that spend more capita on their students get better results, right?

    And you understand that many of the bets young teachers that start out in urban school districts and do well very often later migrate to wealthier towns that offer higher salaries, right?

    I live in a small old mill city in SE Masachusetts, and our school system has trouble offering comparable wages. Teachers routine migrate to more well-paying gigs in better funded school systems with a more “learn-ready” student body.

    So while I am happy to acknowledge that simply tossing more money at education is not going to fix everything, I am absolutely certain than funding is an important basic issue.

    Our nation has a certain set of jobs that require folks to earn a post-graduate degree and maintain up-to-date certification. Teaching is one of those jobs. And compared to other jobs in this set, teaching provides a somewhat to much lower level of compensation. That’s why an insufficent number of the best and brightest and most highly motivated Americans pursue teaching as a career.

    I am skeptical that breaking unions to lower costs will fix this.

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