This morning, Claudio Sanchez's piece on Obama's education initiatives managed to almost--almost!--make me pick up a hammer and smash the shit outta my radio. First, let's look at a bit of Renee Montagne's set-up: “…some say the president sounds more like the nation’s school superintendent.” Well, this would most certainly be a sign of the apocalypse, I guess! What’s so wrong with thinking of the president as "the nation's school superintendent?" God knows Chimpy probably fancied himself that very thing as he destroyed our educational system with his No Child Left Behind bullshit. But shouldn’t Obama be the figurative head of American public schools? He’s Commander in Chief of the military; he oversees the Fed and the Treasury in the control of our money. He’s our nation’s representative around the world. Why shouldn’t he be the head guy in our public education system, which is after all federally funded?
Now to Claudio Sanchez' report:
Obama's Long Education To-Do List Awaits ActionOkay--I'm about to bust a gut by this point. Why should we even give a shit what the head of the Center for Education Reform thinks about education? Who the fuck is this lady? Is this another Heritage Foundation? We don't know. Claudio just drops her ridiculous quote on us and moves on.
Morning Edition, April 30, 2009 · In his first 100 days as president, Barack Obama has proposed a more expansive federal role in education from cradle to college.
A short list of his numerous education proposals includes: uniform standards for preschool programs; rigorous tests and academic standards for public schools; merit pay for classroom teachers; a longer school day and school year; and a national strategy to address the high school dropout crisis.
In numerous speeches, the president has called these proposals "the pillars" of his plan to improve education in America.
"The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy; it's unsustainable for our democracy; it's unacceptable for our children. And we can't afford to let it continue," Obama said in a speech last month.
Obama's education proposals would make any local school board member dizzy, says Jeanne Allen, who heads the Center for Education Reform and is an advocate of charter schools and vouchers. Besides, she says, Obama's agenda is nothing more than a wish list.
"Despite all the great rhetoric about fixing America's schools coming out from the Obama administration in the first 100 days, it is not translating into more quality choices for children," Allen says.
Moreover, are “more choices” really what we need? Or do we just need to make our public schools WORK--something that will take a plan, some money, and some really hard work? If the public schools were improved, maybe in some or all of the ways that Obama says, we wouldn’t need more choices. Parents could feel confident that our public schools are doing their job effectively. Besides, if parents want a choice, they can send their kids to private school. As for charter schools, don’t even get me started. Back to Claudio:
School reform has taken a back seat to fixing an economy still on life support. Critics say the $100 billion in stimulus funds that Obama requested for education come with few strings attached and no incentives for reform.Holy hell. I might need to pull the car over and scream. "...few strings attached and no incentives for reform"--GOD FORBID! Look, Claudio and all you "critics"--this isn't some blood-thirsty billionaire-laden bunch of assholes on Wall Street getting free money so they can get even bigger bonuses for fucking their entire business up. We're talking about our schools, those buildings full of teachers that are located in most every town in America. Yes, some school administrations are filled with idiots. But people who need to have strings attached to their funding or incentives for reform? WTF? Have they forgotten that schools employ people called teachers because these teachers already HAVE incentives—-inner incentives--to help society, to broaden the minds of children, to help them learn to read and add and think, to show children the world by increasing their knowledge? Sweet Jeebus, WTF? And to top it all off, I think we’ve already seen just how effing effective these “strings attached” "reform" plans are –- I’m talking to you, No Child Left Behind.
Okay--back to Claudio again:
But the extra money has bought Obama a lot of good will, especially in states facing teacher layoffs and deep budget cuts in education.All right. I'm definitely looking for the hammer now. What started out as a report on how to fix education has become a ridiculous piece that reduces the whole issue to politics, citing what's apparently most important to this reporter or NPR or whoever: the “support” first of “conservatives,” then “liberals,” then “Republican leaders in Congress,” and then, waaaaaay down the list, FINALLY getting to the people who REALLY matter in education: teachers! And even then, it’s just the opinion of the “teachers’ unions” that are discussed. There's not one quote in this entire damned report from an actual teacher or teachers, who are the ones in the trenches fighting for our kids’ educations! Fighting against NCLB and all the other bullshit that's mucked up our education system in the first place!
In the long term, Obama has vowed to break free from what he calls "the old, tired Washington debate over education — Democrats versus Republicans, federal versus local control, more money versus more reform."
"There's been partisanship and petty bickering, but little recognition that we need to move beyond the worn fights of the 20th century if we're going to succeed in the 21st century," Obama said in March.
This kind of talk, for now, has earned Obama support from conservatives and liberals alike. Republican leaders in Congress, for example, lauded Obama's choice for education secretary, Arne Duncan. Even teachers' unions have agreed to consider what was once unthinkable: linking teacher pay to students' performance, one of Obama's campaign promises.
HOLY HAND GRENADE TO THE BALLS – how the hell much is Obama supposed to get done in only 100 effing days? It's this kind of editorializing and bullshit that makes me think NPR is about as "fair and balanced" as Faux Nooz. Please, Claudio, continue to beat me in the kidneys with your brass-knuckled fists:
"I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences — the stakes are too high. We can afford nothing but the best when it comes to our children's teachers and the schools where they teach," Obama said.
Andy Rotherham, a top adviser to the Obama campaign, disagrees with critics who say the president is proposing a bigger federal role in education. He says Obama just wants a more effective role.
"This president clearly did not come to Washington to be an observer," Rotherham says. "He has a big agenda and he has a lot of things he wants to get done. The things he's talking about doing, though, generally do play to the federal government's strength."
Still, most of Obama's education agenda in the first 100 days has been talk, with a couple of exceptions: He has increased funding for Pell Grants for college students and has begun overhauling the federal student loan program.
The president argues that bypassing banks entirely and having the U.S. Education Department issue federal loans directly to college students would save about $48 billion over the next 10 years. The proposal has divided college officials, and banks are gearing up to oppose it.Because fuck education; banks are what matter here! And they've been soooooo fucking responsible with our money so far!
The loan question is likely to become the first big fight over education policy that the president will face beyond his first 100 days in office.THANK GOD IT'S OVER.
I'm having to do some more deep breathing exercises at this point (and take some ibuprofen) just to finish typing this post. I'm thankful every day that my car has a CD player in it. I don't think I can stand to listen to this NPR news shit much longer.