Saturday, September 13, 2008

Presidents & Education

Obama is quite clear about his goal to be the Education President. He wants to (according to HometownLife.com:
invest in early childhood education, close the achievement gap, pay teachers more money in exchange for more accountability, make college affordable for everyone, in exchange for community service.
My answer to that?

  • This country HAS tried to invest in early childhood education. While Head Start hasn't reached every eligible child, it has sufficient data to assess the program.

    And, the program has limited effect. Wikipedia says that "The long term effectiveness of Head Start is controversial, with various reports reporting positive, negative, or no impact."

    Not exactly a glowing recommendation for a very expensive program, is it?

  • Close the achievement gap? Gee, when he finishes that, I'd like to see him walk on water.

    It's hard to do. Even now, after many years as a teacher, I find that sometimes my efforts pay off, and sometimes they don't. If I do manage to teach more effectively, and scores raise, but all students gain equally, I haven't closed the gap.

    But, I have improved their learning. So, is that a success, or not?

  • Pay teachers more? Great!

    How do you handle the accountability thing? Will teachers who take on tougher assignments get paid more? Will teachers who have "good" students manage to qualify for the bounty? I can bet that some favored teachers will jockey to have the "better" (translation - easier to teach) students.

  • More money for college? Maybe...but it seems that every time more money is given to students, coincidentally the colleges raise their tuition - by at least that amount.

    Pay for service? It's already available - for vets. I can see the community service option being a real boondoggle - AND a seeding ground for inculcation of radical agendas. If it was real work - such as Meals on Wheels volunteering, tutoring disadvantaged kids, or similar work, maybe. But I'm truly not interested in a make-work program.

    The Work-study program has been around for years. I used it. It paid for about 2 years of my college (along with grant money).


The trouble is, presidents aren't supposed to fund, dictate standards, or put their fingerprints on public schools. That's a local responsibility. Obama needs to read the Constitution.

Before November.

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