Obama: Race to the Top most meaningful ed reform

President Obama didn't announce any major new education initiatives in his speech tonight.

President Obama didn't announce any major new education initiatives in his speech tonight. (AJC file photo)

President Obama didn’t unveil any major new education plans in his State of the Union address tonight, although he did proclaim his Race to the Top grant program  “the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.”

I thought that was a bold proclamation, given that the grants had only just begun and we don’t have any results yet. I would agree that the RTTT program propelled many states to move quickly on legislative reforms in an effort to better position themselves to win a grant, from more charter schools to pay for performance. I think it can be said that Race to the Top may be the most cost-effective tool to push through major reforms in public education in a generation.

Otherwise, the speech touted familiar themes of the Obama White House: More math and science teachers. Education as the key to reshape and revive the economy. A need to remake No Child Left Behind. Help for the middle class afford college.

The president did make a plea for sane immigration policy toward children of illegals, saying, “Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can be staffing our research labs, starting new businesses, who could be further enriching this nation.”

And Obama called on universities to open their campuses to military recruiters, saying, “It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

Anybody hear anything new that I overlooked?

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

27 comments Add your comment

Rob

January 25th, 2011
11:46 pm

See a tag cloud of Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address: http://robvstate.com/2011/01/25/tag-cloud-of-obamas-2011-state-of-the-union-address/

And see how it compares to the 2010 State of the Union Address

[...] Continue reading here: Obama: Race to the Top most meaningful ed reform – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

redhousecat

January 26th, 2011
12:26 am

although I didn’t listen to him, I did read the transcript. I felt the underlying message of the whole thing was for Americans to take responsibility and do something…..

In that sense, he wants more teachers….surely the man is not so out of touch that he knows a big reason for the lack of teachers is not only the “pay”, but what teachers have to put up with.

Maybe he needs to give a education speech about PARENTS taking responsibility. Because I can assure you that most people only heard blah, blah, blah….

Fire Bad Teachers

January 26th, 2011
12:35 am

I like his call for more teachers.
Not sure about higher education being within the reach of every American.

d

January 26th, 2011
6:42 am

Personally, I’m sick of almost 100% focus on STEM while forgetting that students need to be well rounded. We forget the teachers who teach communication skills, citizenship (both domestically and globally), culture, and physical education. OK I get it, STEM is important, but not at the cost of a well-rounded student.

For what it’s worth, I don’t know about other states, but the RTTT money in Georgia is not going to be much if any help to Georgia students. It’s a top-down program crammed down the throats of Georgia educators, filled with bureaucracy and punitive measures. Didn’t the President mention doing away with the top-down management style for education?

HS Math Teacher

January 26th, 2011
6:45 am

RTAHA – Race To A Heart Attack

[...] President Obama didn’t unveil any major new education plans in his State of the Union address tonight, although he did proclaim his Race to the Top grant program  “the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.” I thought that was … read full article… [...]

Dr NO

January 26th, 2011
7:17 am

With Obama, Joeker Biden and the rest of the clowns its…

RTTB…Race To The Bottom

I want to know

January 26th, 2011
8:00 am

The cost of implementing the changes of RTTT will eat up most of the grant creating more bloat. The DOE should be abolished. Nothing has been accomplished or improved by this black hole of funding. Check our science results and racial performance gaps.

Return the federal DOE funds to the local people so we can educate our own the best we see fit.

What if

January 26th, 2011
8:08 am

Valerie’s piece this morning also worth reading (Wa Post, The Answer Sheet).
We DO need to change how we view teachers – while survey data shows the public generally respects teachers as much as anyone, the educaton bashers have been bashing teachers as being lousy and worthless for so long it has made a difference: those who would be best frequently go find something ELSE to be best at.
And, although the bashers would simply have it that poverty is an excuse, from The Answer Sheet:

“And then there was the subject that Obama did not talk about: the real reason that so many American public schools are troubled. It’s poverty.

“(Let me be clear: No, I am not saying that we don’t have a lot of lousy teachers who shouldn’t be in classrooms. We have too many, and they should be fired after a fair evaluation process. And I’m not saying that some great teachers don’t help lift poor kids into another world. But they are the exceptions, and as I’ve said before, exceptions don’t make great policy.)

“The United States has a child poverty rate of 21 percent. That’s nearly 15 million children who live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, now pegged at $22,050 a year for a family of four. [Compared to Denmark's 3%? -Wi]

“We can pretend all we want that great teachers can overcome the effects of poverty, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, bad eyesight, a lack of early exposure to books. But pretending won’t make it so.

I wish Obama had said that.”

Soccer Mom

January 26th, 2011
8:20 am

Dr. No – There is no race to the bottom since we are already there. Much responsibility for the miserable current state of education goes to your hero, Bush, and No Child Left Behind in creating more problems in the educational systems than offering viable solutions.

Dr NO

January 26th, 2011
8:40 am

Sorry MOM. Jesus Christ Obama is supposed to be waving his magic wand, sprinklin fairy dust all over and repairing everything. He kinda reminds me of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun who produces touts something wonderful yet as it turns out is nothing more than a box of dust.

Sorry…YOU LOSE!

V for Vendetta

January 26th, 2011
8:54 am

Meaningful? How so? By what criteria? All RTTT did was propel the states into knee-jerk legislation, most likely to the detriment of the students. Please.

Bush was NCLB.

Obama is RTTT.

When will we have a president (or a govenor, or a mayor, or a super, etc.) who would rather focus on improving education than the latest acronym du jour? As usual, the politics get played while the students (and teachers) suffer for it.

Dr NO

January 26th, 2011
9:09 am

One however must admit that this RTTT is much more “catch-phrasey” than NCLB. Kinda gives ya the high shcool pep rally feeling…

“Cmon Team, lets GO, FIGHT WIN, RAH RAH RAH”

EnoughAlready

January 26th, 2011
9:27 am

If handled correctly RTTT can be a good opportunity for change from within; instead of from the outside.

If it seems to have a Top Down Approach,it’s because of our governor and state DOE.

I’m not sure how it’s being setup in Georgia, but if I were in charge of this program; I would create a RTTT regional committee that brings together parents, teachers of all grade levels, school administrators and school board leaders. I would identify what are the top issues for parents, teacher, administrators and school board members; using those as the guidelines for making education work in Georgia.

There are a lot of things that truly need to happen in Georgia before we can make RTTT work for any of us.

teacher

January 26th, 2011
9:39 am

Waving money is the fastest way to get struggling schools and states to change their policies quickly…but are they really changing the ways that will help our children or is this just more red tape and government control. Will the federal gov. choose to focus on what is best for our schools and kids?? Not so far!

Dr NO

January 26th, 2011
9:40 am

Instead of change, spend less, spend more etc. Would it not be a good idea to examine all the Fed State education programs currently in effect, review them for effectiveness and dispense with the programs deemed non-effective?

This being the case we could also dispense with many over-paid, undeserving Fed State employees and possibly spend less for more.

That is certainly counter-intuitive to some political party thinking however what have we to lose.

Arlan Berglas

January 26th, 2011
10:26 am

Pass It Forward (PIF) Mentors help students online for free! There is a 30 minute online mentoring program called L.O.V.E. It Forward that is performed on skype.

Learn your purpose
Organize your passion
Volunteer your gift
Engagte yourm heart

After just 30 minutes online with a PIF mentor, the mentee is trained to do the same for others so that they can then pass their L.O.V.E. forward too. Free website/s are also avaialble for all new mentors.

APS Teacher

January 26th, 2011
11:23 am

RTTT: Proving that politicians could some up with an even bigger waste of time and money than NCLB.

MikeyD

January 26th, 2011
1:50 pm

@Enough Already:

A full half of the funds “won” in rttt will be used at the state level for “administrative” costs. Your hopes that it won’t be a top-down operation in Georgia will be crushed. Perdue obviously had contempt for teachers in this state, and his crony Hames sees fit to dictate from on high when she could only hack it in the classroom for 3 years. Hmmm, yep. Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

Sarim Ngo

January 26th, 2011
2:58 pm

You bring up a good point that President Obama didn’t disclose any new education plans in his State of the Union address. However, The Campaign for High School Equity, (CHSE), a coalition of leading civil rights organizations, applauds his effort in highlighting the importance education. While we don’t have any results of the Race to the Top program just yet, we believe it is a step in the right direction. However, more work needs to be done. Race to the Top may have pushed many states to reform their education standards, but without vigorous federal leadership and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, our nation’s schools will be ill-prepared to provide every student with the high-quality education needed to succeed in the global economy. President Obama asked Congress to swiftly revamp current federal education policy, but to be effective; we must engage communities of color from the start of the reform implementation process. Since students of color represent the fastest growing population in many of the nation’s largest school districts, these students must succeed in the classroom for the nation to create the highly skilled workforce necessary to ensure the nation’s future prosperity.

The choices we make today will determine the future of the young people in whose hands we will place America’s prosperity tomorrow. We must act now. For more information about what’s needed to effectively transform our education system so students will thrive in the 21st century workplace, read http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/education/139421-investing-in-tomorrows-workforce

(On Behalf of the Campaign for High School Equity)
-Sarim Ngo

Dr NO

January 26th, 2011
3:02 pm

“Campaign for High School Equity, (CHSE), a coalition of leading civil rights organizations, applauds his effort in highlighting the importance education.”

Oh brother. Useless and stupid.

Ed Johnson

January 26th, 2011
3:45 pm

“While we don’t have any results of the Race to the Top program just yet, we believe it is a step in the right direction.”

And so does The Broad Foundation…

The following frightening points highlight alignment between Obama and The Broad Foundation, as the foundation’s 2009/10 annual report boasts:

“The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.”

“With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”

“Duncan now has five Broad Residents and alumni working with him in the U.S. Department of Education.”

“But the election of President Barack Obama, who has embraced an education reform agenda that in many ways mirrors the work we have done, tells us we’re moving in the right direction.”

“Encouraged by the progressive leadership of Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, The Broad Foundation invests $4.5 million for Chicago Public Schools to launch a new data system to streamline its human resource systems.”

“The Broad Center names an independent board of directors chaired by New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein and including Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan (later named U.S. secretary of education), ….”

“Broad Superintendents Academy graduate Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana is appointed by President Barack Obama as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education for the U.S. Department of Education.”

“Three members of The Broad Foundation executive staff are loaned to the U.S. Department of Education, led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The “loaned executives” assist in the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as it relates to distribution of education funds.”

“President-elect Barack Obama names Eric Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group that assists the president in making decisions on science and technology policy.”

Top School

January 26th, 2011
5:54 pm

How much do you expect OBAMA to wave his magic wand and FIX?
The PROBLEM is the unethical examples we have modeled for our children.
NO RULES, NO LAWS, NO ETHICS, and you want to know where we have failed?
Look at the LEADERS …”while they play catch me, if you can”.
Our children are now doing the same. RACE to the top, by any means.

Bush White House Broke Elections Law, Report Says Monday 24 January 2011

The report found that during the Bush administration, senior staff members at the Office of Political Affairs violated the Hatch Act by organizing 75 political briefings from 2001 to 2007 for Republican appointees at top federal agencies in an effort to enlist them to help Republicans get elected to Congress.

and the beat goes on...

January 26th, 2011
6:09 pm

How much do you expect OBAMA to wave his magic wand and FIX?
The PROBLEM is the unethical examples we have modeled for our children.
NO RULES, NO LAWS, NO ETHICS, and you want to know where we have failed?
Look at the LEADERS …”while they play catch me, if you can”.
Our children are now doing the same. RACE to the top, by any means.

Bush White House Broke Elections Law, Report Says Monday 24 January 2011

The report found that during the Bush administration, senior staff members at the Office of Political Affairs violated the Hatch Act by organizing 75 political briefings from 2001 to 2007 for Republican appointees at top federal agencies in an effort to enlist them to help Republicans get elected to Congress.

Toto

January 27th, 2011
12:18 am

Mom with Hope!

January 28th, 2011
6:57 am

Well Hello people, Obama is challenging us, you, me every American. Get involved! You are right, most of the monies would probably start with Administration, so get on the board of your local school so you know where that money is going become a board member so you have a say in how it is spent. Come on get up off your duff stop with the negativity and help our kids … help our kids to make this work for them. Congress, President, the Government for goodness sakes is not going to be able to make it work alone! It has to filter down, to US for the sake of the teachers and especially ALL students!
So instead of being so against RTTT and finding every way for it to fail, get up – get out there and help make it succeed! It has potential God knows are school systems have not been in a position to succeed. These kids, each and every one of them, on the right path to do good or even on the wrong path, they are our future and if we want more from them now and in the future – we have to GIVE them more NOW!