Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Most Americans Do NOT Support Obama's Education Policies

Psst, President Accountability and Secretary Duncan, most Americans do NOT like your education policies:

Support for President Barack Obama’s education agenda is slipping among Americans, according to a poll released today of the public’s attitude toward public schooling.

The survey, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa International and the Gallup Organization, reports that just 34 percent of those polled would give the president an A or B when grading his performance on education during his first 17 months in office, compared with 45 percent in last year’s poll, which covered the president’s first six months in office. ("Obama School Ideas Getting Good Grades," Sept. 2, 2009.) The president’s grades fell not just among Republicans surveyed, but also among Democrats and Independents, who increasingly gave Mr. Obama grades of C or lower.

Poll respondents, for example, took a decidedly different tack than the president and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when it comes to turning around low-performing schools. When asked what was the best solution, 54 percent said the school should remain open with the existing teachers and principal and receive outside support.

The administration’s models for school turnarounds have been criticized because they often require the replacement of the principal and other school staff members, and questions have been raised about whether the approach is based in research.


The president’s lower numbers on education mirror the overall decline in his approval rating, said Shane Lopez, a senior scientist in residence at Gallup and the co-director of the poll. Mr. Obama’s present overall approval rating is 44 percent, compared with 52 percent at this time last year, Mr. Lopez said.

“Despite all of the time and attention that has been devoted to school improvement over the past year and half, we haven’t won over the hearts and minds of the American people,” said Patrick R. Riccards, the chief executive officer of Exemplar Strategic Communications, a Virginia-based communications firm and the author of the education reform blog Eduflack. “They aren’t feeling the impact of the stimulus. They aren’t seeing the role of the federal government in school reform.”

In fact, just two in 10 of those surveyed said they were aware that any of the economic-stimulus funding passed by Congress last year helped pay for education expenses in their communities­—despite the fact some $100 billion over two years was allocated for education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

That's because as I noted yesterday, most of the money Obama handed out for education has NOT been used in actual classrooms by actual teachers to educate actual students.

It's been handed to education deform shills and bureaucrats to create standardized tests, buy data tracking computer programs, track data, and fire teachers and close schools.

The pushback on Obama's education policies is beginning to reach a crescendo.

It is true in certain ed deform circles like the op-ed pages of the New York papers or the set of Morning Joe and other MSNBC programs, the administration is applauded for their efforts to tie teacher pay and evaluations to test scores, add additional tests to every grade at every level in order to get the data to do the teacher pay/evals, and then close schools and fire teachers according to that data.

It is also true that in certain ed deform circles, the naming of names of "bad teachers" in the newspaper using deeply flawed models of value-added assessment is also cheered.

But in the REAL world where people actually work for a living (and I'm not talking about running a hedge fund during the day and dabbling in some education deform at night like Whitney Tilson - I'm talking about people who ACTUALLY work and do NOT steal for a living), people can see that the problems in the public education system are much more complex than "end teacher tenure/all education problems solved."

With so many Americans suffering from unemployment or underemployment, from excessive levels of debt, stress, and other problems, they know that kids are ALSO suffering from these problems and they bring them with them to school.

They also know that when teachers have 170 students a day, they cannot possibly address every academic and emotional problem every student is suffering from. It's just not possible, not even in the Mistress Eva world where teachers are expected to work 16 hour days.

Finally they know that teachers are NOT the only determinant of student test scores and achievement, that kids themselves along with families play a much larger role in those.

Now does any of this mean that Obama and Duncan will stop plunging ahead with their campaign to fire as many teachers as possible, close as many schools as possible, open as many for-profit charter schools as possible and add as many additional standardized tests to the curriculum as they can?

No, of course not.

As I have written before President Obama is a very stubborn and stupid man. As stubborn and stupid as President Bush was, in actuality.

Evidence abounds that the stimulus package was nowhere near enough to take the economy out of recession and put it on a healthy road to recovery.

Rather than add more stimulus, Obama continues to listen to the deficit hawks who say spending must be cut NOW.

He does this even though the same austerity measures in Greece and Ireland have brought about steep economic declines.

Evidence abounds that Obama's HAMP mortgage program is making things worse for homeowners, extending out the period of their payments without actually saving them from foreclosure.

Rather than fix the program, Obama defends it, saying through Treasury officials that the program was never meant to save individual homeowners from foreclosure anyway, just extend the period of foreclosures out so that a bunch of homes don't get dumped onto the market all at once.

Evidence abounds that the administration's strategy for the war in Afghanistan is a miserable failure, that we will be there for years without ever achieving any tangible measure of "success," even as we toss more money and lives into it.

Rather than change course, Obama has doubled down on it.

So there is no reason to think Obama will change his malicious education policies or stop blaming teachers for all the ills of the public education system or society (he STILL says the economic collapse was due to poor public education, not greedy Wall Street criminals.)

Once he decides on a course of action or policy, he does NOT change it.

That's why Geithner, Summers and Bernanke STILL have their jobs.

But there is plenty of reason to believe if Randi and Dennis would just stop allowing the ed deformers to frame the issues and let people see the challenges that teachers face EVERY day trying to educate 170 students a semester (340 a year for high school teachers), we can win these battles over policy.

It is true that there is support for tying teacher pay to "effectiveness" and for expanding charter schools in this poll.

But it is also true that when you educate people on what these things mean (firing teachers after two years when scores do NOT improve, closing neighborhood schools and reopening them as charters and stealing resources from traditional public schools to give to charters run by for-profit companies), people can and will modify their support for them.

The point is, we in the education field and those running the unions have to stop allowing the ed deformers to frame the issues themselves with lies and half-truths.

Even after Klein and Bloomberg were exposed as failures when NY State admitted the test scores were inflated and that the achievement gaps for race and class are higher now than before Klein and Bloomberg took over, the ed deformers continue to lie and mislead and say "On, no - up is down, black is white and the achievement gap is smaller now than before Klein and Bloomberg took the reins."

These are Orwellian deceptions and we must continue to call them out for it. It is hard, because the ed deformers are well funded (that's what happens when you take most of your funding from a criminal class like the hedge fund industry) and they quite literally own most of the media.

But the results of the ed deformers' work is becoming more and more clear. Chaos in the schools, corruption by the for-profit charter industry, but no improvement in the education levels of many students, especially students of color.

And as it becomes clear to Americans that in order to tie teacher pay and jobs to "effectiveness," new standardized tests must be added to every class at every grade level at least twice a year, I think people will begin to push back against that "reform" mechanism too.

Again, we need to frame the issue that way.

When the issues are framed right, we win many of these debates.

Now how do we get Randi and Company to frame the issues the right way rather than allow Duncan, Obama, Bloomberg, Rhee et al. to frame them?


  1. I get all sorts of crap in my public email, and just last night I got something spinning those Gallup results to say the public supported "reform." Now you're making me wish I hadn't instantly IDd it as spam.

  2. I can see where you could spin the results toward reform. Support for charters is up in the poll, as if support for "teacher effectiveness measures." But when you tell people those "teacher effectiveness measures" mean standardized tests at every grade at every level, tracking the data from those tests and firing teachers with it after two years, they don't seem to go along with the agenda. In fact, 60% say this data should be used to help teachers improve while just 26% say it should be used to fire teachers. And only 13% say it should be used to pay teachers!

    When you frame the issues correctly (i.e., Obama is promoting teacher firings, tests at every grade at every level, firing teachers and paying them according to those tests), the overwhelming majority of Americans do NOT support Obama or those policies.

    The key is to get Randi and the other screwheads at the union to stop allowing the ed deformers to frame the issue (bad teachers must be fired, Obama's policies do not promote teaching to the test) and start framing the issues the way they really are.)

    As for charters, people do support charters, but when you tell them they are going to take resources away from traditional public schools, support will drop. That's not in the poll, I am extrapolating that. But given how they feel about other things in the poll, that seems to me to be a reasonable assumption.

    BTW, the poll also shows how must people LIKE the schools their own kids go to. That's interesting - it means the ed deform press releases have worked for the issue at large even when the evidence in front of people is "Oh, I like my kid's school and teachers." Again, the unions need to do a better job of framing these things. But given who runs them and what their agendas are (Randi: "On, Obama, you LIKE me? You REALLY LIKE me?") that may be difficult.

  3. Randi is only interested in Randi's agenda to promote herself and those she wishes to bless like Mulgrew & Rona.

  4. Do you get the feeling Randi just wants to be one of the girls on the couch at The View?

  5. RBE-
    I'm afraid there is no chance to get randi to confront ed deformers. These guys are no screwheads.
    Peter Goodman - UFT shill - said it on Gotham:

    "From Seattle to Boston, from Florida to Chicago, from LA to NY, educational policy is undergoing a sea change. It is supported by the President and the States, it is accountability, core standards, free market driven: testing, ratings/remuneration by student achievement, value-added, charter schools, etc.

    Diane Ravitch and other scholars strongly oppose, however, the electeds are supportive across the nation.

    If the Republicans sweep to victory these policies wouldn’t change, the fed dollars would stop flowing.

    Teacher unions can either vigorous oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modifiy policies.

    It is easy to blame Weingarten or Mulgrew, the same policies exist in every state and every major city."

    They know exactly what they are doing. Holding onto power is the game and if they were democratic and militant that power would be threatened. Just watch what happens in Chicago.

    They are Vichy capitulators. The only way to get the union to take on ed deform is to organize a group to take power from them. City by city, school by school.

  6. Nice sentiment. The parasites at the UFT will continue to steal from its hosts/dues payers.

    The majority being newbies, who don't know or give a shit about the problems we face.

    When the UFT gets to take union dues from those fresh faced, young midwestern, two year missionaries, there is no earthly reason for the union to actually represent us.

    The UFT will suck the dues out of the slaves who toil at the Charter Schools.

    The slaves will get nothing for their hard earned money. They will get even less than us, the house slaves.

    The union looks at this as a perfect business model. They will do even less than the nothing that they do for us.

    As far as the union is concerned, it makes no difference what unfair terms the employer foists on us.

    The bald pimp will pay lip service and then screw us hard, and without lubrication.

    As long as those assholes are getting two pensions and hefty salaries with expense accounts, they have no incentive to actually represent our interests.

    They have been getting away with it for decades.

    The UFT needs to be decertified. The Reichchancellor needs to deal with a strike. The Taylor laws be dammned.

    The TWU had the balls to stand up to the little dictator.

    Although, it caused me great difficulty, I cheered for the TWU. This is what unions are about. Not Vichy capitulation.

    We have taken abuse for far too long. It is time to get up and do something about it.

    If we settle for nothing now, we will settle for nothing later.

    Dreading this academic year,

    Angry Nog