President Obama outlined his thoughts on American Education Reform in a speech today at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce entitled "A Complete and Competitive American Education."
Here is the essence of his hopes for improving U.S. education "cradle to career" - nice alliteration!
First, these are his GOALS:
1- Make America’s entire education system the envy of the world.
2- Prepare every child, everywhere in America, to out-compete any worker, anywhere in the world.
The first is tricky to measure (need an envy meter) and the second is just impossible. Not every American child can be expected to out-compete any worker in the world. So we start with lofty, vague and unattainable goals.
These are the actions he hopes to encourage:
- Challenge our states to develop a cutting-edge plan to raise the quality of your early learning programs to ensure that children are better prepared for success by the time they enter kindergarten.
- Challenge our states to adopt world-class standards that will bring our curriculums (sic) into the 21st century. Our curriculum for eighth graders is two full years behind top performing countries.
- Call on our nation’s Governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that measure whether students possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity.
- Provide teachers and principals with the information they need to make sure students are prepared to meet those standards. Far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida…
- Support the idea of recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers.
- New incentives to bring teachers to schools where they are needed most. Offering extra pay to Americans who teach math and science.
- Treating teachers like professionals while also holding them more accountable – in up to 150 more school districts (out of 13,862 total districts)
- Expansion of charter schools that results in the advancement of excellence. Remove caps on number of quality charters.
- Encouraging consideration of a longer school day and longer school year
- Turning around our low-performing schools. Just 2,000 high schools in cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia produce over 50% of America’s dropouts
- Providing every American with a quality higher education – whether it’s college or technical training.
- Hold parents more accountable. Because government cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers cannot make sure your children leave for school on time and do their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do.
After the President's speech I felt warm, I felt fuzzy - he is an excellent orator. But the hopes he outlines are mostly State responsibility and while he and Secretary Duncan have $100 BILLION that could be used to push states in the directions the President wants, most of the money is being poured into Governors hands so fast it is impossible to extract any meaningful commitments.
So President Obama, like all the Presidents in the past three decades says what they hope and wish and pray will happen, but is unwilling to truly help our children get a better K-12 education.
COMING SOON: The speech the President should have delivered...