Why is President Obama pushing so hard against teachers right now, weeks before the election?
On NBC's "Today Show" Monday morning, Mr. Obama told host Matt Lauer that “nothing’s more important than education,” and advocated for controversial reforms, including getting rid of the worst teachers.
He also pushed for a longer school year and admitted that his daughters would not get as good an education in the Washington, D.C., public schools as they get at Sidwell Friends, the private school they attend.
“I’ll be blunt with you. The answer is ‘no’ right now,” he said, when asked by a Florida woman whether Sasha and Malia could get the same quality education at a Washington school. He added that “there are some terrific individual schools in the D.C. system” but said that it is “struggling.”
“You’ve got to have radical change, and radical change is something that’s in the interest of students,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to identify teachers who are doing well ... and ultimately, if some teachers aren’t doing a good job, they’ve got to go.”
He also said that “money without reform” will not fix the education system, and encouraged unions to “be part of the solution.”
With the release of “Waiting for ‘Superman’”, the education-themed documentary from "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim, education is suddenly on the public mind. And it seems likely to become even more so when the movie expands beyond four theaters this Friday.
In the movie, teachers’ unions are the villains, standing in the way of reforms kids need and protecting the jobs of even the most horrendous teachers.
So perhaps Obama is counting on his message resonating with independent voters and the many Americans who are likely to see the movie and start rooting for change?
Even so, it’s a somewhat risky move given that educators are such a key part of Democrats’ base – and many are already growing tired of what they see as an administration that vilifies teachers.
Look for more of a showdown over education within the Democratic Party in coming weeks and months. Teachers – some in Superman costumes – have already protested outside some of the New York theaters showing the movie, while education-reform advocates announced the “largest ever education reform coalition” on Monday
Obama has fully embraced the "Testing as Accountability" movement and wants to see teachers fired and schools closed based upon test scores.
Both his policies and his words say very plainly - ONLY teachers are at fault for the problems in public education, so we must destroy the teaching profession and the teachers unions in order to save schools.
I want to remind people that Obama said the following before the '08 election:
Tests Should Not Be Punishment for Teachers
The goal of educational testing should be the same as medical testing - to diagnose a student's needs so you can help address them.Tests should not be designed as punishment for teachers and students, they should be used as tools to help prepare our children to grow and compete in a knowledge economy. Tests should support learning, not just accounting.
One last point. There's a lot of talk out there about accountability in education. I share that concern, and I've called for more accountability in our schools myself.
Tired of Hearing Teachers Blamed for Failures
But I also believe that before we can hold our teachers accountable for the results our schools need, we have to hold ourselves accountable for giving teachers the support that they need.
That's where accountability starts with a government that puts its money where its mouth is, and parents and community members who instill the value of education in their students. I am tired of hearing teachers blamed for our collective failures.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to take a bus ride with a group of Iowa teachers and discuss their thoughts on education.
Afterwards, one teacher said, "I don't think any teacher minds being accountable when the measuring tool is fair to educators and not about satisfying unrealistic goals."
She's right. If we do all this - if we go into struggling schools and provide more pay and better support for our teachers; if we allow them to teach our children to their strengths instead of just a test - then the teachers I've met wouldn't mind some accountability.
But we need to start doing our part first. When it comes to education in America, we need to start holding ourselves accountable. This goes for our government and our leaders.
Everything candidate Obama said there, President Obama has reneged on.
Schools did not get more money from his administration, testing companies and data system builders did.
Teachers did not get more money for themselves or their classrooms, school districts got more money for centralized bureaucrats and "accountability officials" to measure all the new tests Obama wants to develop for every grade in every subject and use to hold teachers "accountable."
Parents and students have not been scapegoated by this administration for the problems in education, teachers have.
In fact, the administration has produced policies that encourage the firing of teachers and then has applauded when they have, in fact, been fired.
And teachers, rather than being treated like the professionals candidate Obama claimed they are have been treated like fast food employees - talked down to, top-managed, treated with disdain.
That is the treatment not only from Obama but also from the media.
Notice that NOT one teacher was invited to NBC's Education Nation Summit with the movers and shakers in the education world.
Instead teachers were given their own conference hosted by Brian Williams - kinda the way kids are shunted off to the kiddie table at Christmas dinner with grandpa while the adults talk about the important stuff at the adult table.
This has been a rough start to the school year if you are a teacher in a traditional public school. The "reform" movement has hit a crescendo in money spent and p.r. spewed - Waiting for Superman, the Oprah shows, the Facebook p.r. stunt, NBC's Education Nation Summit where the nation's "education experts" gather to beat teachers and call for new policies to fire them.
It feels like it cannot get any worse.
In the short term, I fear it will.
After the midterms, the No Child Left Behind re-authorization process will begin again.
Obama has already laid out his blueprint for it:
Use value-added analysis to hold teachers and schools "accountable."
Fire teachers and close schools based upon value-added testing.
Change the funding formulas so that districts and states get federal money for being "reform-minded," not because they have financial and economic necessities for the money (i.e., high levels of poverty.)
Extend the school day and the school year.
Break the tenure and seniority systems.
Close many public schools and reopen them as charters run by private for-profit corporations.
Break the teachers unions.
Turn teaching into a fast food job for McTeachers.
I suspect many Repubs will be open to compromise on many of these issues.
Perhaps some will balk at the federal mandates.
But Dems, the ones left after the midterms, will undoubtedly rally around their 42% approval president and give him what he wants on education if they are not challenged by the unions.
So much of that blueprint could become law if we do not push back against DEMOCRATS.
The unions must make it clear that any Dems who vote for this stuff will NOT get union support in 2012.
Obama doesn't seem to care about that.
Perhaps he is banking on the GOP putting up Palin or some other easy candidate to beat.
But I bet Congressional Dems will be open to hearing from the base.
That is what we must do in order to survive this Obama presidency.
It is NOT hyperbole to say that Barack Obama is out for the destruction of the teachers unions and the public school system.
Clearly he wants to see some privatized system run by charter operators.
We must fight him and make our union leaders realize that if they continue to act as if Obama is not the enemy, the cushy union jobs and pensions they have will not exist after a few more years of teacher bashing.
After everything else Obama did failed and the economy is on the brink of a renewed recession, it is the time to distract the voters by attacking the ones who are unable to fight back.ReplyDelete
Since the annointed one has frozen his educational records, maybe there is something written by his former teachers that attacks him the same way he attacks us.ReplyDelete
It would be interesting to see what kind of a student he really was.
Bush had no problem letting people know what type of student he was.
Why all the subterfuge?
He probably was a LOSER and knew people who "helped" him like the Rev. Wright, Rahm Emauel, his basketball buddy Arne Duncan, and his other friends in high places such as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley Jr. I think we need to get rid of bad legislators and bad presidents. We just have to wait for an election to do so. Too bad we don't have "votes of confidence" for elected officials so we can get rid of them mid term.ReplyDelete
From the Sidwell website. Kind of says it allReplyDelete
What is the student/teacher ratio?
PK K-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-12
11:1 12:1 12:1 16:1 12:1 13:1 (varies)
Maybe if his past is not as advertised we will find that Ed Koch is really his father. That would explain is hatred of teachers.ReplyDelete
Rumor has it that he earned "a gentleman's C" at Harvard.ReplyDelete
I've never heard any of his Harvard profs publicly hailing his scholarship.ReplyDelete