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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

President Obama spoke about education and I hurled (rough draft)

The following is about the parts of President Obama’s state of the union speech that had to do with education.

Teachers got a mention right off the bat; he talked about how their sacrifice had led to the highest graduation rates of all time. It didn’t get a clap.  Okay the speech had just started so lets give that a pass.

Later he talked about how all children deserved access to a world-class education and used the example of one New York Student who had great teachers and innovative tutoring programs and was going to college. These are the meat of his comments:

Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance.  Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math.  Some of this change is hard.  It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test.  But it’s worth it – and it’s working.

That last sentence is very debatable.

In praising Race to the Top, his signature education agenda for raising standards, he has in effect given a thumbs up to blame the teacher evaluations and doubling down on the high stake testing that has sucked the joy out of learning for so many teachers and students alike. Furthermore if he doesn’t want kids to fill in bubbles he needs to let his secretary of education and Pearson testing know because they have been doing that more under his administration than ever before. I guess since he sends his daughters to an exclusive prep school which doesn’t kill and drill and then over tests its students he might not know that’s what is happening in our public schools but at the end of the day he is in effect sentencing our kids to go to schools he wouldn’t let his children near.

He also mentioned how working with governors from both parties standards were being raised. He didn’t call it common core but anyone who was paying attention knows that was exactly what he as talking about. This is the same Common Core that teachers all across the nation are fighting against, and not because it is some government takeover, though it is RttT traded cash strapped states desperate for money the equivalent to pennies to give up local control but because it ignores poverty, doubles down on high stakes testing, siphons millions if not billions out of the class room and as New York’s Carol Burris put it because they have seen the standards, Support is disappearing, not because schools don’t have the Common Core curriculum, but because for the first time they do.  After last year’s testing debacle, teachers are frantically attempting to implement the standards using the modules provided by the state. Kids and parents are reeling from the effects of teaching the Common Core standards, at the fast pace needed to get through them in time for the tests.

But did you notice how he never mentioned common core? If he wants it and believes in it then why didn’t he have the courage to mention it?

He had the courage to parrot a recent comment by Arne Duncan about how things have improved in Washington DC, a district wrought with cheating accusations and voucher and charter school scandals and Tennessee, the state with the most schools that teach creationism as science in the country.

How does the president connect his call for increased research in technology and science and his praise for the state, Tennessee, which thumbs its nose at science by teaching creationism, more than any other? Oh I guess it’s the same way he can pat the back of teachers, praising their sacrifice but then subject them to Race to the Top.

Finally I would like to mention poverty, something he mentioned over and over but instead of recognizing how it effects and holds back children mired in it he ignored that fact.

Poverty, higher standards will fix that.

President Obama spoke about education and I hurled


  1. Well stated. He also wanted to take over pre-schooling through the use of the RttT funding scheme.

  2. What I thought was particularly telling was who he mentioned in conjunction with extending RTTT to Pre-K: "This year we'll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it's going to do, I'm going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need." Notice who is IN that coalition and who is not. NOT in the partnership? Parents and Teachers.