"Secretary of Education Duncan once said the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina, because it gave us a chance to start over with the education system there. I couldn't agree more. And folks, the best thing that could have happened to Joplin, Missouri was for a tornado to come around and wipe out the old education system and take those failing teachers with it, because we now have a golden opportunity to start over here too. Now that Mother Nature has brought accountability to this old failing school system and the bad teachers who once worked there, Secretary Duncan and I can help the Gates Foundation and Walmart and the hedge fund industry get down to business and really start educating kids here so this town can compete globally in the 21st century high tech, neo-feudal economy. We want you indoctrinated to expect 13 hour work days, garbage pay, no benefits and nothing but fear for the rest of your lives and by golly, charter schools are helping to bring that kind of America to fruition!"
Obama used the refrain "We're from the Gates Foundation and we're here to test you!" repeatedly to jazz the crowd up for his latest education reform program, Race to the Disaster Scene - a controversial program that gives the federal government $4 billion in aid money to charterize any school district that has suffered a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood, tornado or the Obama economic policies.
Jonathan Alter, official Obama biographer and current Bloomberg Views columnist, compared Obama's Joplin commencement speech to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
"Look, we know what works in education and this is it - bring Mother Nature in, destroy what stands, replace it with privatized, for-profit charters, and test, test, test! This president is just a rock star when it comes down to getting those ideas across. And look how cool he looks smoking his after-speech cigarette!"
This Obama speech was noticeably different from the one he gave at Barnard College last week, where he acknowledged that students who attend elite private schools like Barnard have not had to suffer under his education reforms like test-based accountability for teachers and 35+ high stakes tests a year for students.
"Yeah, there's no way we're doing that shit to kids like you," the president told the Barnard crowd. "You're being groomed to be 21st century leaders and innovators. It's the rest of the schmucks in this country, the one's who might try to Occupy, that we've got to brainwash with all that education reform bullshit."