Obama wants to overhaul education

President Obama talked about merit pay for teachers, expanding charter schools and decreasing the drop out rate during a speech Tuesday morning. It was his first major address on education since taking office.
“It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career,” Obama said. “… What’s required is not simply new investments, but new reforms. It is time to expect more from our students.”
There were few specifics in the speech. But he did promote merit pay for teachers. He challenged states to improve lessons in reading and math.  And he mentioned lengthening the school day and year.
More details will come during a speech to Congress in the next several weeks. Until then, what do you think of these plans?

10 comments Add your comment

Test

March 10th, 2009
7:52 pm

Tony

March 10th, 2009
8:34 pm

Quite disingenuous remarks laden with misinformation from our president. His speech was filled with the same old stuff that’s been spouted forth for the last 30 years. The media perpetuates the mistruths and people have heard this junk for so long that they think it is all true.

“Singapore beats us 3 to 1 in math.” Completely false because Singapore does not even attempt to educate all its children. The children of emigrants are not included in the public education system. During the last two to three years, the Singapore minister of education has been getting advice from US educators on how to improve creative thinking in its classrooms.

“Only one-third of US children read at an adequate level.” This is based on the NAEP scores and is very misleading because of how the test scores are reported. If you consult the rubric for this test you will find that the 1/3 he is talking about excels in reading. Another 50% score in the range generally considered to be adequate. Here is the definition of proficient: “Solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.” In the use of these data, here is another caution from the NCES, “The Panel concluded that “NAEP’s current achievement level setting procedures remain fundamentally flawed. The judgment tasks are difficult and confusing; raters’ judgments of different item types are internally inconsistent; appropriate validity evidence for the cut scores is lacking; and the process has produced unreasonable results.”

I would support merit pay for teachers as long as the selection included multiple criteria and not just student test scores. It is still too easy for favored staff members to have hand-picked rosters that skew the performance data.

Universal PreK? Most middle class families should object strenuously to having young children required to be placed in school. PreK can be very important for some children, but should not be required.

You’re kidding me when you imply that schools should be responsible for children from birth to career, right? The American dream becomes a reality for people once they realize they have to work to earn that dream. It can not be guaranteed to anyone. Opportunities about in the US for anyone willing to do the work to get the education they need to succeed.

Sam

March 10th, 2009
10:15 pm

It’s simply a frakking puzzle as to why President Obama turns to short-term, quick-fix, silver bullet, reductionist solutions when it comes to public education and the future of democracy.

Ernest

March 10th, 2009
10:50 pm

What took you so long Laura? I wondered when GetSchooled would move to the new format. You may need to add a ‘cheat sheet’ for the various codes that can be used.

I concur with Tony’s comments….

jim d

March 11th, 2009
9:43 am

Tony,

no need to remain PC–hell he’s lied about so many other things, why should he stop now?

Reality 2

March 11th, 2009
1:31 pm

Tony may be tired of being compared to Singapore, but it IS a fact that their students have consistently outperformed US students – even if you just look at the top students. Moreover, about a half of their students are English learners. Clearly, there are huge differences between US and Singapore, but probably the most significant one is their awareness that human resources are their only “natural” resources. Thus, they make a very strong commitment to education. I believe they make 3 years for pre-elementary (Grade 1) education available to their children, too. And, they do have a series of high-stake tests, but not every year.

It may be true that the Singapore ministry of education is studying the US system, but they certainly do not look at the US as the solution. US happens to be one of many systems they examine to learn from. I think that disposition (willing to learn from others) is another significant difference between our systems, perhaps.

viewfromsputnik

March 11th, 2009
4:24 pm

Did you not hear/read that he said CRADLE to (grave) career?????? The compulsory school age is currently 6 – it was 7 just a few years ago. HE WANTS TO LOWER THE COMPULSORY AGE TO BIRTH! Any student of COMMUNIST history would recognize this tactic immediately! I’ve already posted about the “Promise Neighborhoods” he put in his budget. These are based on a “Harlem Kid Zone” model school. It controls 92 blocks of Harlem neighborhoods. Social workers are sent in to “educate” parents BEFORE the child is born. I believe these ”NANNY STATE ZONES” will be duplicated all over the country, and they will eventually be for ALL children, not just poor minorities in Harlem. It is interesting to note that many Wall Street luminaries were shelling out millions to get the model school up and running. Hmmmmm. Here’s a Wall Street Tip: SOCIAL WORKER – The up and coming career!

ScienceTeacher671

March 11th, 2009
5:55 pm

Sputnik, have you ever heard of Bright from the Start?

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (Bright from the Start) is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. Bright from the Start oversees a wide range of programs focused primarily on children ages birth to school age and their families.

***Note: if the formatting goes weird on this, I apologize…I’m trying to find out if the new format supports HTML or not…

viewfromsputnik

March 12th, 2009
11:34 pm

sciteach

This is a Federal proposal. It is the next step. It is not aimed at just individuals, but entire neighborhoods. The model school in Harlem is run with private funding and is led by Mr. Canada, who genuinely has the kid’s interests at heart. But once this model is taken over and duplicated and funded by taxes, IT WILL BECOME A DIFFERENT AND DANGEROUS BEAST! Here is what Obama had to say about it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh5QRMaa_KE

ScienceTeacher671

March 13th, 2009
7:05 pm

Sputnik, I’m aware that it is a Federal proposal. The Promise Neighborhoods proposal is aimed at entire neighborhoods; Bright from the Start is aimed at an entire STATE, and both use tax dollars for funding.

While I agree that private funding would be more appropriate, I’m having trouble understanding why a proposed program targeting certain high poverty urban neighborhoods is more threatening than an existing program targeting our entire state.

Do you agree that some parents need to take more responsibility for the education and rearing of their children, and that this is particularly a problem in some high poverty urban neighborhoods? If so, what would you propose as an alternative solution?