Sunday, December 14, 2008

How Will A President Obama Improve Your Classroom Conditions?

The November 2008 issue of California Educator magazine, mouthpiece rag of the California Teachers Association, shares the following wisdom with us in the president's column on page 4:

With the historic election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, the future, both for the country and for public education, looks brighter. He has the vision and compassion to lead real change across the nation--change in our health care, in our classrooms, and in our future.

What, exactly, he's going to do "in our classrooms" is left unsaid. That's because there's nothing he's going to do regarding California's classrooms, especially in light of the following:

Statistics show that California's children were hit the hardest of any students across the nation, with an estimated 311,900 losing their homes. Combine this with the wretched state of California's budget and you have a serious crisis.

What will a President Obama do to improve California's budget situation?

Then we turn to p. 30 to an article called "Obama win a victory for public education". It has the same quote, almost word for word, as I quoted above. We do, however, get a hint of how a President Obama will be good for schools: "Senator Obama's vision of change in America includes investing more in our schools...." I guess President Bush's more than doubling of federal education dollars isn't enough for some people.

And I love how there's no mention at all of how this savior of education will be sending his daughters to private school.

The CTA is a bunch of hyprocrites; not even a labor union, it's nothing more than a left-wing political advocacy group--and they are entitled to my money by law. This is an injustice.

Depending on who is chosen to be the Secretary of Education, the next few years could be very bad for public education. The Boston Herald editorial staff has some concerns about Obama's current education advisor, Linda Darling-Hammond:

President-elect Barack Obama is causing some who saw him as a reformer to have second thoughts.

He has appointed a prime example of “progressive” education - which, in fact, is about as reactionary as you can get - to lead the new administration’s transition team on education, Linda Darling-Hammond.

She is a professor at Stanford University and represents everything wrong with the education establishment. She is the darling of the teachers’ unions. She believes money solves all problems in the field.

She opposes objective testing. At Columbia University she pushed the presentation of “performance portfolios” for the New York State Regents Examinations. She abhors the (flawed but fixable) No Child Left Behind Act. She hates Teach for America, the successful program recruiting new college graduates into teaching, and other programs of alternate teacher certification.

She produces research that true reformers denounce as unreliable, such as a report that teacher certification is critical to student performance - something there is a lot of reason to believe is not true.

It's hard not to quote the entire opinion piece, but the above gives you an idea of what would be coming down the road under a Secretary Darling-Hammond--more money, less accountability, more fads, less real education. I don't see the Congress eliminating the No Child Left Behind Act, but I don't see a Secretary Darling-Hammond doing much to enforce that law, either.

I don't see a Golden Age of Public Education occurring under the next president, despite the choirs of angels at California Educator.


Anonymous said...

Darren, spend some time with LDH's publications.

Darren said...

I'm on a mailing list of educators from around the country. She's been discussed periodically for years--I don't like what I've read.

What do *you* think I should read of hers?

Ellen K said...

In reality, other than repealing NCLB, Obama and his merry band can do very little to change public education in this nation. How can you change a system that is locally administered, shaped and controlled? Other than getting rid of the current public education financing programs at the state levels and replacing it with a national education tax, I just don't see that much can change. I am concerned that his constituents are so enamored with technology above all else, that they will abandon basic educational pedagogy for a type of facilitator system where in the students sit at computers all day while a facilitator manages their progress. I can't think of anything that would drive down standards more than the isolation of the students from their teachers and from each other by plugging them into laptops for twelve years. There's more to learning that watching a monitor all day. And if monitors and computers were such great educational tools, our kids who were on the internet all day and all night would be doing much better on standardized tests.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Repealing NCLB is one of the few ways Obama can help public education relapse into complacency since the overt emphasis on the meeting of standards, albeit standards of wildly differing quality, changes the complexion of public education.

Naturally, those who've grown up with the assumption of no standards of performance other then that dictated by pride - a thin reed that to maintain institutional quality - are aghast at the notion of standards and are stuffed with artistic rationalizations why standards are a bad idea. Trouble is, to those of us who live with efficiency ratings, J.D. Powers numbers, insurance premiums and other means of rating performance/quality the notion of applying the idea to public education is compelling. That's a big part of what drives the charter phenomenon.

I think the danger embodied in charters is starting to become apparent so any Obama SecEd is going to try to suppress the growth of charters. I don't think they can succeed in doing anything but raising the issue to a higher level of public awareness but that won't stop the new SecEd from trying. What else can the protector of the status quo public education system do?