Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend most of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test"

Obama in Ohio

In Ohio, Obama’s speech on education was a little fuzzy. In his appeal to the middle, he’s obviously trying to blur differences with Republicans. But he’s clearly anti-voucher and sharply critical of NCLB, testing madness and the past 8 years neo-con leadership. He's head and shoulders above McCain/Palin.

But I'll tell you what's wrong with No Child Left Behind: forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong. (Cheers, applause.) Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and the pay for those teachers behind is wrong. (Applause.) Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then throwing your hands up and walking away from them the next is wrong. (Applause.)

And don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend most of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test. (Cheers, applause.) I don't want teachers to the -- teaching to the test. I don't want them uninspired and I don't want our students uninspired. (Applause.) So what I've said is we will measure and hold accountable performance, but let's help our teachers and our principals develop a curriculum and assessments that teach our kids to become not just good test-takers. We need assessments that can improve achievement by including the kinds of research and scientific investigation and problem-solving that our children will need to compete in a 21st century knowledge economy. And we have to make sure that subjects like art and music are not being crowded out of the curriculum. And that's what we will do when I'm president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

At the same time, he supports new small and charter schools and promotes innovation, not as something done TO TEACHERS, but BY THEM. He seems to be making an attempt to dislodge the conservatives who’ve grabbed the mantle of education “revolutionaries” and push progressives away from just circling the wagons and defending the status quo.

We need a new vision for a 21st century education -- one where we aren't just supporting existing schools, but spurring innovation; where we're not just investing more money, but demanding more reform; where parents take responsibility for their children's success -- (applause) -- where our schools and our government are accountable for results; where we're recruiting, retaining and rewarding an army of new teachers; and where students are excited to learn because they're attending schools of the future; where we expect all our children not only to graduate from high school, but to graduate college and get a good-paying job.
All in all, a good speech.


  1. I'm surprised you didn't mention Barack's praise of Austin Polytechnical High School. Weren't you involved in starting that school? Wasn't it started as a part of Renaissance 2010, which you have been so critical of? Obama sounds like he supports it.

  2. Yes, Anon. I was part of the original planning team for Austin Poly. I have also been vocal in criticisms of Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 plan which has been more about closing schools that fixing them or creating good new ones.

    As for Obama, I haven't heard him take a position specifically on Ren 10. Have you?


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