Obama: His daughters get better education at private school than D.C.’s public ones. Can’t argue with that.

President Obama said Monday that we can longer accept the status quo in education.

President Obama said Monday that we can longer accept the status quo in education.

In an expansive interview today, President Obama called for a longer school year and the firing of the worst-performing school teachers if they don’t improve their skills quickly.

Speaking on the “Today’ show, Obama also said money wasn’t the sole solution to our nation’s education failings.

“We can’t spend our way out of it. I think that when you look at the statistics, the fact is that our per-pupil spending has gone up during the last couple of decades even as results have gone down…Obviously, in some schools money plays a big factor …On the other hand, money without reform will not fix the problem,” he said.

However, money does matter. It enables people like Obama to pay the $31,000 annual tuition bill at Washington’s prestigious Sidwell School where his two girls are now enrolled. (That is $31,000 per child.)

As to the decision to send his daughters to private school, Obama said that his children could not obtain the same quality education in the D.C. public schools, despite improvements under the current administration.  “The DC public schools systems are struggling,” he said. (Most presidents send their children to private schools. Georgia’s Amy Carter was the last White House offspring to attend a public school in Washington.)

The Washington Post asked District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee for her reaction to the president’s comments. (By the way, I don’t think the tough-minded Rhee is likely to consider another school chief’s job if she loses hers due to the impending leadership shift in the Washington mayor’s office. However, I would also like to see her come to Atlanta after Dr. Hall leaves. I think Rhee is demanding, but she took over a school system that was long content to provide a third-class education to its children. She did not have a minute to waste in reviving those moribund schools.)

“We shared information on DCPS schools with them,” Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee wrote Monday in an e-mail, “but [we were] completely supportive of their decision to send their children elsewhere. In terms of the comment from the president, it is a fair assessment. We have indeed, seen good progress over the last few years, but we still have a long way to go before we can say we’re providing all children with an excellent education.”

Among Obama’s other comments: He said children in other nations go to school a month longer than U.S. students. “That month makes a difference. It means that kids are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer,” said Obama. “It’s especially severe for poorer kids who may not see as many books in the house during the summers, aren’t getting as many educational opportunities.”

Nothing new in the president’s comments, but I think it always helps when the leader of the free world addresses the issue of education.

77 comments Add your comment

atlantanative

September 27th, 2010
2:23 pm

another example of liberals who speak of equal oppurtunity as long as they can have superior only for themselves. Why you ask so they can maintain an advantage for themselves. Obama who favored teachers unions over school choice and wanted to end the lottery in DC so you could not go to school with his children.

Proud Black Man

September 27th, 2010
2:24 pm

Yall talk about the man like a dog…

EnoughAlready

September 27th, 2010
2:26 pm

I wish I could see african-american children supported in education, like the New Birth Congregation support Bishop Eddie Long. I’ll keep praying for this miracle. :)

clueless

September 27th, 2010
2:26 pm

Could we have a “compare and contrast” between Sidwell Friends and public schools?

Lynn43

September 27th, 2010
2:27 pm

At least he (sort of) admitted that income and homes are a part of the problem, but I don’t think that not having books in the home during the summer can begin to explain the many, many problems these children have.

jwr

September 27th, 2010
2:29 pm

I may not agree with Obama’s policies and politics, but if I was in his shoes you can bet your a** that I wouldn’t entrust my kids to the public school system, either. At best, they set a low bar and cater to those that don’t want to meet it. At worst, they are physically unsafe.

God Bless the Teacher!

September 27th, 2010
2:34 pm

Life experiences. We’re trying to compare Playdo to diamonds. According to a fairly recent article I read in a national magazine, the longer school year is not coupled with the same length of day. Also, teachers in the referenced countries get more planning time each day (on the clock) to assure instruction is engaging and addresses the needs of each student. I’ll bet the other countries’ class sizes aren’t as large. Also, I could almost bet the cultural importance placed on getting an education (from parents and society) is much greater than in the US. Once some of these issues are addressed we may be in competition again. Until then, pontificate all you want — it ain’t gonna happen.

jwr

September 27th, 2010
2:35 pm

Lynn, thanks to a 180-day equivalent school year, kids who do not engage in some form of summer activity (summer camps, reading at the library, etc) are 2 years behind the students that do by the time they graduate.

2 years is a lot of time.

Ernest

September 27th, 2010
2:39 pm

I saw the entire interview this morning and thought is was pretty good. There is not a silver bullet to cure what ails our school systems.

I was glad they discussed parent accountability with respect to their childrens education. Many of the speeches given by Secretary Duncan did not mention that and I always thought is was odd. There are ’super’ teachers out there that can reach students in spite of little parental involvement however the task is definitely easier if there is collaboration with the parents.

Maureen, you may want to include a link to the interview. You can access it at:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39154226/vp/39378291#39378291

Alice

September 27th, 2010
2:50 pm

Mr. Obama’s daughters are privileged to have family who support education, who encourage them to do well in school, who help with homework, who have taught them to respect educators…sadly, many many children are not so fortunate.

Ethix

September 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

“However, money does matter. It enables people like Obama to pay the $31,000 annual tuition bill.”

What is the cost per student at the DC Public schools? For APS I believe it is something like $16,000 per year. Wouldnt be surprised if DC was higher.

Ethix

September 27th, 2010
2:57 pm

And here is the answer: Per pupil spending in DC public schools is $26,555. Obama pays $31,000 per year. So the public school has almost as much money per pupil as the private school. So NO, its not about money. Money doesnt explain why the DCPS is so far behind….

zach

September 27th, 2010
2:58 pm

Money? More time in government “school”?

That’s funny, I know home-schooled kids who spend a fraction of the time on formal school work as the typical kid their age and they’re way more advanced. Not to mention in practical skills as well.

Eddie Longs Cadillac

September 27th, 2010
3:04 pm

Obama bumbles, fumbles and stumbles his way through yet another media created farce. What a LOSER. I cant wait for this guy to be gone.

[...] Obama: His daughters get better education at private school than DC's public …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Speaking on the “Today' show, Obama also said money wasn't the sole solution to our nation's education failings. “We can't spend our way out of it. …Obama: DC schools don't measure up to his daughters' private schoolWashington PostObama: 'Money without reform' won't fix US education systemCNN InternationalObama Calls for Big Education Reforms – More Charter Schools, Longer School YearCBS NewsWTHR -Heritage.org (blog) -Today24Newsall 961 news articles » [...]

Ed Duc Nation

September 27th, 2010
3:18 pm

If I had the money I would do the same for my kids as President Obama is doing. It is time for parents to take responsability and not expect tearchers to teach and babysit their students. Check their school assignements daily and their grades (most are now on-line) weekly. Visit museums, exhibits, libraries and involve them in sports, etc. Make learning fun and an active experience. I know a few parents that complaint that the teachers are sending homework “home”, can you believe this?

Please parents, get involve. My parents were always involved in my schooling and now I am involve in my kids’.

Responsibility

September 27th, 2010
3:19 pm

It’s Bush’s fault! That makes me feel better!

MrLiberty

September 27th, 2010
3:21 pm

Excellent post Ethix. Money is not now and has never been the issue. The issue is as always the system. You cannot expect a socialist, government-managed top-down system to ever properly respond to the needs of the children. Children and parents are NOT the customers of the system. Bureaucratic administrators are the only ones who must be catered to.

Zach is also right. It has been said more that a few times that the basic task of teaching reading, writing, and basic math skills takes around 100 hours of dedicated teaching and focus. Most government schools cant manage this in 12 years for everyone. Again, it is about the process.

There is not only no silver bullet to fix the government schools, there is nothing at all that will fix them. They are not set up to be learning institutions. They are set up to be employment centers for teachers and indoctrination centers for future worker bee taxpaying citizens. They have already achieved that goal. They can’t be both.

If only Obama cared as much about the rest of america’s children as his own he would admit this reality, work to help dismantle the government system and put in place the kind of tax and spending reform that would empower the free market and parents to be able to replace the current system with affordable private schools, charity schools, and vastly expand homeschooling so that every child had a real opportunity to get an outstanding, affordable eduction. But then he is part of the problem, not the solution.

Steve

September 27th, 2010
3:25 pm

DC schools are behind because parents do not have anything invested but free babysitting. If they had to pay they would be more actively involved in their child doing well. BUT, it is never the parent at fault. Obama compares us to other countries. Well, start by changing every kid must have a well rounded education. I was more than happy to disrupt class in those classes I did not like and it was not the teacher’s fault. I saw no reason as to why I had to learn about novels and hidden meanings when I wanted to read technical material. So, what do other countries do? They do not give well rounded educations. If a student is interested in science they are taught technical reading, technical writing and technical math. It all aligns to the sciences. Thus every class is important to that student and they do much better as the curriculum is relevant and important. Makes sense to me. What does Obama want? Longer school year. How does that change anything? My system ran summer school and parents made no bones about it. Summer school was a lot cheaper than child care. Such great parental support. Besides, who is going to pay the teachers for the extra 2 months? No matter, just increase the deficit. Teachers will not do it for free just like your average worker will not work for free for their employer. Would be nice to have someone making decisions that knew what they were talking about.

Simple Jack

September 27th, 2010
3:26 pm

Everyone knows what the problems are. Everyone knows what it takes to be successful. Children must stop having children. Parents must be involved in the entire education process. Parents must instill a sense of pride, a hard work ethic and set goals with their children. Students need to be in class every day. Homework must be done. The school year must be lengthened. Teachers need to be paid well, but only the competent teachers should retain their jobs. (There are some teachers in the system who could not train a dog.) The teachers’ unions should be disbanded. Now, when does all of this begin? Or are we going to talk about it and conduct studies and impact studies about it for the next 10 years or until such time that we are dead last in the global education war?

David Zarmi

September 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

If parents want their children to be educated, they will be. Books are literally free – how many boxes of books do people throw out and give away? Libraries? Read with your kids, do homework with them. If you can’t find an hour a day to spend with your child, don’t have one. But of course, the community and nation are forced to intervene with these sick parents who don’t put their children’s future first. And even with the worst public schools, someone who wants to learn can, as long as they can read (so I am not referring to those illiterate parents who can’t do it themselves). How can a government possibly act in loco parentis? It can’t. Cultures that do not put an emphasis on the well-being and education of their children need to be assimilated and Americanized to traditional American values, education and work ethic.

Drew

September 27th, 2010
3:40 pm

Mr. Liberty’s stupidity makes Jesus cry

JC

September 27th, 2010
3:48 pm

You don’t suppose it’s a DNA problem?

USMC Dawg

September 27th, 2010
3:50 pm

“We can’t spend our way out of it. I think that when you look at the statistics, the fact is that our per-pupil spending has gone up during the last couple of decades even as results have gone down…Obviously, in some schools money plays a big factor …On the other hand, money without reform will not fix the problem,”—Barry Obama

How IRONIC, Republicans have been saying this FOR YEARS.

Carvajal

September 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

My wife and I made less than $50,00 a year when our two daughters were in school but we sacrificed and sent them to private schools. Why? Because we didn’t want them working blue-collar jobs like we did. Too many parents would rather complain about the low quality school their children go to rather than sacrifice themselves for their children. We weren’t alone. there were other low-income parents doing what we did so it’s nothing special. We just knew our kids would come out ahead from attending a better school than the ones in our school district. And we did something else. We regularly told both girls that their education wasn’t complete until they had a four year degree. So they were programmed at an early age that high school was only a milestone and not the goal. It worked. My oldest is an RN making more in her first year than I made five years ago. My other daughter graduates with her psychology degree this coming May. So, no. It’s not about the money.

oldtimer

September 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

Stop ctering to the NEA…Choice and vouchers began improving DC schools and will again if allowed. There is no reason in the world DC schools should be spending $26,000 to try to educate children, or tlanta’s $16,000 either. Choice and vochers would make schools better nd parents more responsible for the decision making. More money will not fix this mess.

TINSTAAFL

September 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

If Obama really cares, why did he allow the cancellation of the charter school in DC that was working so well? It’s rather unfortunate that free choice is antithetical to our president’s beliefs.

B. Killebrew

September 27th, 2010
4:07 pm

williebkind

September 27th, 2010
4:08 pm

C’mon people! You know the problem with public schools is that the government allowed progressive liberals run things. There goes morality, responsibility, and rigid belief system. You know if it offends one person in a community we must barr it or make a law against it. And if it is vile and disgusting, we will get a federal judge to allow it. Public schools is the disaster created by progressive liberal leadeship–omg is there such a thing? I guess not!

Craig

September 27th, 2010
4:22 pm

As long as the dems have the teachers union in their hip pocket, nothing is going to change with our public school system. The union dictates everything including a voucher system. The messiah can send his kid to a private school because he can afford but, God help us middle class people to have the same privlege. The voucher system is a must if we want to correct our public system. The dems say they are for the middle class. It is all talk!

put the blame elsewhere

September 27th, 2010
4:22 pm

At what point does parent accountabilty take priority? It is not fair to determine my salary and/or job stability based on a child’s internal decision not to succeed or the parent’s lack of discipline at home. I agree with President Obama but here is a suggestion: tie the parent’s job stability and salary with their child’s success or failure. Parents need to stop being bystanders and become involved in the learning process.

Craig

September 27th, 2010
4:26 pm

Alice

September 27th, 2010
2:50 pm
Mr. Obama’s daughters are privileged to have family who support education, who encourage them to do well in school, who help with homework, who have taught them to respect educators…sadly, many many children are not so fortunate.

Alice, you can’t be serious…are you? It is called being an elitist and that is what the Obama’s are. Their let them eat cake attitude is at an all time high.

Bert

September 27th, 2010
4:28 pm

I hear the criticism, but let’s ask the questions. How many people here are willing to take responsibilty for the lack of involvement in their own school systems? How many can actual name a school board member, what about two fo them?

How many here have had full invovlement with their child’s education? Sure the teachers have a lot of power, but how many of the people here complaining have actually pressured teachers to do the best job possible.

My guess, none.

Bert

September 27th, 2010
4:30 pm

Tinstaafl: DC Charter schools were failing.

Hmmmmmmm

September 27th, 2010
4:32 pm

Well, Obama is not totally STUPID! Anybody would do the same thing with their kids…… 31K per year, per student, wow, lets see where does that put the Obama’s debt ratio?????

MrLiberty

September 27th, 2010
4:39 pm

Drew. What a well thought out response. You hit and countered every single one of my points. Clearly you are the superior thinker.

Even Jesus was homeschooled.

Elisabeth

September 27th, 2010
4:48 pm

@jwr The kids don’t even get 180 days anymore. Our county has 173 after teacher furloughs. 8 hours a day in school would allow for a student/teacher break (recess??) at all grade levels and maybe more than 15 minutes for lunch. When I went to school, we did not get nearly the number of “holidays” that the kids due now. A whole week at Thanksgiving? 2 weeks and 3 days at Christmas, a week in Feb, a weeek in April? Please…no wonder the young people that I interview want to know how vacation days the will get.

decaturparent

September 27th, 2010
4:50 pm

Instructional time does not improve academic achievement. Teacher quality and curriculum quality do…..

http://sparkaction.org/node/30482

Also, all those countries with longer school years that Obama keeps touting (Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, China) actually have significantly fewer instructional hours than the U.S. because their school days are much shorter.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/28/obama-more-school-less-va_n_301694.html

More hours in crappy, top heavy schools, with ineffective practices will not bring improvement. Higher paid, better qualified, more talented, better respected and smarter teachers that are not being dragged down by a bunch of admins working on their resumes will make all the difference.

Beside the Point

September 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

I find it interesting that everytime the president or the Congress open their mouths about education, they blame teacher. They’re right that all the money in the world thrown at schools won’t help. The impoverished communities that are riddled with violence need change BEFORE schools can reach many of these children (I’m a teacher in one inner city here in the U.S.)
As for getting rid of “sub-par teachers,” why don’t they ever talk about how there is aleady a method for this in every district in the U.S., the administrators don’t use it–get rid of them if they don’t!
Finally, as for increasing the school day, most districts around the country are reducing the school year due to no funding. President Obama seems completely out of touch making this kind of comment.

Drew

September 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

Mr. Liberty, please stop making Jesus cry. He loves you and you repay him like this? Why can’t you open your heart to his love?

Just sayin

September 27th, 2010
6:13 pm

“Most presidents send their children to private schools. Georgia’s Amy Carter was the last White House offspring to attend a public school in Washington.”
Where do we get real information on this? It says Amy Carter was the last off spring in the public school system. Were their any others? There haven’t been too many kids in the white house since then.

David

September 27th, 2010
6:58 pm

And here is the answer: Per pupil spending in DC public schools is $26,555. Obama pays $31,000 per year. So the public school has almost as much money per pupil as the private school. So NO, its not about money. Money doesn’t explain why the DCPS is so far behind….

Also consider that President Obama is paying the taxes that help pay for the DC Public Schools but he is not using what he is paying for….with 2 kids…he is ’saving DC public schools $52K/year (the cost to teach his 2)…….it is the same across the country. WHAT ARE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS DOING WITH ALL THE MONEY THEY GET???

David

September 27th, 2010
7:02 pm

The time is NOW for choice. Let parents choose and provide them vouchers or tax credit to pay for the non-religious portion of the education they receive from a private school.

[...] PostObama Calls for Big Education Reforms – More Charter Schools, Longer School YearCBS NewsAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Heritage.org (blog) -Today24Newsall 1,110 news [...]

AJinCobb

September 27th, 2010
7:12 pm

@Just sayin,

“Where do we get real information on this?”

You’re kidding, right? It’s not that hard to look up. There haven’t been all that many kids in the White House, really, as you suggest. Chelsea Clinton attended private school (the same school, Sidwell Friends’, as the Obama girls attend). Nixon’s daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, also attended this school.

Lynn43

September 27th, 2010
7:13 pm

What is the one thing that “non performing” schools all over the country have in common? Their students come from low income (government assistance), single (never married) mothers who started having children in their early teens and are alcoholics or drug addicts, children being raised by grandmom, living in areas where gangs and crime are the way of life, etc., etc.

This culture where children are struggling just to survive everyday must be attacked just as fiercely as teachers and public schools are being attacked if any change is going to happen and the achievement gap be narrowed.

irisheyes

September 27th, 2010
7:31 pm

$16K per student does NOT mean that all $16K gets to the classroom. How many times on this blog have we bemoaned the fact that central offices and administrative staffs are bloated to the point of idiocy? When you count all of the 6 figure pencil pushers in the central office of the DC schools, I’m sure you would see how much of that $16K is wasted long before it ever gets to a classroom. Don’t ever forget that when it comes to funding education, classrooms, students, and teachers are at the bottom of the totem pole. I’m sure are far higher percentage of the $31K per student that the Sidwell School gets actually makes it into the classroom.

We’re continuing to ask schools to solve the societal problem of poverty single-handedly. While schools are certainly part of the solution when it comes to eradicating poverty, both Democrats and Republicans ignore every other issue there and blame any failure entirely on the schools. It’s ridiculous.

irisheyes

September 27th, 2010
7:50 pm

Sorry, $16K should be $26K. But the crux of the argument remains the same.

rosie

September 27th, 2010
8:03 pm

What would happen if you took the teachers out of the Sidwell Friends school and put them in D.C. public schools? What would happen if teachers from D.C. public schools swapped places and went to teach at Sidwell friends? Do you think the Sidwell Friends teachers would fair any better in classrooms with very little parent support? Don’t you think the public school teachers would have a much better chance of better test performance from children with parents that place such a high value on education? Is it really about the teacher or more about the value the family places on education? I believe we have some poor teachers, but let’s address the real issue. How could we hold parents accountable? This seems to the be the question no one wants to tackle.

rosie

September 27th, 2010
8:03 pm

What would happen if you took the teachers out of the Sidwell Friends school and put them in D.C. public schools? What would happen if teachers from D.C. public schools swapped places and went to teach at Sidwell friends? Do you think the Sidwell Friends teachers would fair any better in classrooms with very little parent support? Don’t you think the public school teachers would have a much better chance of better test performance from children with parents that place such a high value on education? Is it really about the teacher or more about the value the family places on education? I believe we have some poor teachers, but let’s address the real issue. How could we hold parents accountable? This seems to the be the question no one wants to tackle.