Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obama's ACA Mess Foreshadowed By Race To The Top

The NY Times compares Barack Obama to George W. Bush on its front page and wonders which president was more incompetent:

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama won the presidency by exploiting a political environment that devoured George W. Bush in a second term plagued by sinking credibility, failed legislative battles, fractured world relations and revolts inside his own party. 

President Obama is now threatened by a similar toxic mix. The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency. 


A contrite-sounding Mr. Obama repeatedly blamed himself on Thursday for the failed health care rollout, which he acknowledged had thrust difficult burdens on his political allies and hurt Americans’ trust in him.

“It’s legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general,” Mr. Obama said. The president did not admit to misleading people about whether they could keep their insurance, but again expressed regret that his assurances turned out to be wrong. 

“To those Americans, I hear you loud and clear,” Mr. Obama said as he announced changes intended to allow some people to keep their insurance.

But earning back the confidence of Americans, as he pledged to do, will require Mr. Obama to right more than just the health care law. At home, his immigration overhaul is headed for indefinite delay, and new budget and debt fights loom. Overseas, revelations of spying by the National Security Agency have infuriated American allies, and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear arsenal have set off bipartisan criticism.

For the first time in Mr. Obama’s presidency, surveys suggest that his reserve of good will among the public is running dry. Two polls in recent weeks have reported that a majority of Americans no longer trust the president or believe that he is being honest with them.

Back in 2009, Obama shoved education reform down the throats of many Americans via Race to the Top, forcing states to tie teacher evaluations to test scores, teach the Common Core (yeah, I know, they didn't mandate it to win RttT grants, but in the end most states signed on in order to be eligible for RttT grants), and give national tests as members of one of two testing consortia. 

Last year, Obama doubled down on those policies through Arne Duncan's No Child Left Behind waiver process - states that wanted to be relieved of the NCLB mandates had to agree to tie teacher evaluations to test scores and make sure all schools taught a rigorous career and college readiness curricula (i.e., the Common Core.)

Now here we are, in 2013, and the first states that rolled out the Obama education reforms are experiencing ACA-esque disasters in schools.

Kentucky moved to Common Core tests first and saw students' scores plummet.

Here in NY State, the Regents rolled out Common Core tests next, before any Common Core curricula was developed and distributed to teachers to teach students so that they would be ready for those Common Core tests, and scores plummeted here as well.

The Common Core rollout in NY State has been widely acknowledged as a disaster, with even the Gates Foundation-funded state PTA, a backer of the Common Core and the state education department, calling the implementation "poor."

Politicians in both parties are saying publicly that the Core rollout in NY State has been incompetent and there is talk of rolling back some of the testing mandates in January when the new legislative session starts.

Now I know that the incompetence of SED Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Tisch in rolling out their reform agenda is not directly related to Obama and ACA, but the unworkability of both Obamacare and Obamacore is.

These are both needlessly complex reforms pushed by an arrogant politician who has refused to listen to critics of either plan and refused to acknowledge the problems these plans are causing for Americans of all parties.

People are losing their health insurance and can't sign on to the new Obamacare insurance because the website doesn't work and doesn't look like it will work any time soon.

Children hate going to school, they hide under the bed in the morning or feign illness, because Obamacore has made school absolute drudgery for students and teachers as it emphasizes nothing but test prep and test taking.

Obama apologized to the American people for his ACA mess this week, but so far there has been no apology for Race to the Top or his NCLB waiver mandates.

He needs to apologize for those as well and roll back his education policies as soon as possible.

The damage done to children, to teachers, to schools and to the public education system has been enormous, perhaps worse than any damage that Obamacare has yet done (though it remains to be seen how large the ACA mess gets.)

It's time for Obama and his Democratic allies to admit that Obamacore is a failure, Race to the Top was harmful and we need a new direction in education policy in this country that shifts the emphasis from testing and data collecting to learning and sharing.


  1. I would place the blame on Cuomo before King. He hired these reformers, and the more writers zero in on King and not Cuomo, Cuomo will bear no responsibility. In fact, he will be a hero if he gets rid of King and still keeps Tisch.

    1. You're right, And before placing the blame on Cuomo, we need to remember that Obama gave us this crap to begin with via RttT and NCLB waivers. I don't think Cuoimo will be a hero if he pushes King out - he has to end the policies completely to reach that status. And I don't think he wants to upset his hedge fundie buddies by doing that. But if public pressure continues, he might have.

  2. I am still stupefied at the number of public school teachers who really have no sense of Obama as their enemy. I see them defending him on Facebook and reposting all of his "progressive" supporter's nonsense from MSNBC and I want to slap them. He has been much more malignant than Bush for this very reason.

    1. Yeah, I see this too. Drives me crazy. I even hear some teachers defend Cuomo. "Oh, we like Cuomo on other stuff" they say. I say "On what? Taxes? He cut them on rich people. Unions? He hates unions. Education? Your work is a nightmare as a direct result of Cuomo (and Obama, for that matter.)" But some just don't hear it. Tribal affiliations are hard to break, I guess.

  3. Teachers in my school are espousing the effectiveness of using test scores to evaluate teachers. The theory that teachers in "passing" schools should be rated effective while teachers in "failing" schools should not be rated effective is also popular. When I suggest they move me to a "passing" school to improve my evaluations, I get no takers. They are also slow to accept that I am working with a different population. A lot of teachers are buying the whole package and far be it from me to convince them otherwise.

    1. It's true that teachers in higher rated schools on the Bloomberg progress reports will have an easier time getting rated effective, esp. if the school chose school-wide Regents scores to rate teachers on some measures. But there will undoubtedly still be some at those schools who get VAMMED via the test component.