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The State of The Union – I’m Disappointed

The State of The Union – I’m Disappointed

I have to admit disappointment. President Obama is a fantastic orator and his speech tonight was delivered with fire and enthusiasm. But where was education? He did a fine job of both listing the ways in which this country is falling behind and in prescribing remedies to help propel us forward economically and socially. (I’ll leave out for now my frustration that some of those solutions included “opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development” and “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.”) He discussed financial reform, spoke about jobs being his number one focus, about improving exports, and building the infrastructure of tomorrow. He did all of this before he even got to the topic of education. Today’s young people ARE the future; if we do not educate them for the 21st century, then none of these grandiose plans can move forward. “Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people,” were President Obama’s words. Why only fourth?

Once he got to education, there was nary a mention of preK, even though our president has been a supporter of early childhood education in the past. Seventy percent of our nation’s three- and four-year-olds currently have no access to publicly-funded prekindergarten. That’s a disgrace. I’m disppointed that the President didn’t mention our youngest students tonight.

He did pledge to end “the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans” and instead give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college, and also to increase Pell grants. He also reached out to college students, promising them breaks on their student loans, while chastising colleges and universities about their enormous costs. That’s all good.

When the President launched into K-12 education, he spoke of investing in “reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many yound Americans.” All this involves more money, so despite a heavy emphasis on fiscal discipline throughout most of his speech, it seems that President Obama will announce an increase of $4 billion in education spending next week when he presents his budget. This will apparently include $1.35 billion in additional Race to the Top funding, and $1 billion in helping push the administration’s goals for the renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Perhaps this aggressive increase in education spending is intended to deflect criticism over Obama’s broader call  for a three-year freeze in non-security discretionary spending, which would include popular domestic programs. But not all educators believe the Race to the Top, with its emphasis on increasing the number of charter schools, streamlining tests and curriculum, and linking teacher and principal to student test scores, is the best track to reform. And the No Child Left Behind Act (the most recent incarnation of ESEA) has come under such heavy criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as teachers, parents, administrators and students across the country, that it’s difficult to see how it can be salvaged.

President Obama, I applaud your decision to increase education spending. But I’m disappointed that you feel a “one size fits all” is the right approach to education.

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103 comments

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1:30PM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

thank you

4:29PM PST on Feb 3, 2010

Thanks for article

7:24AM PST on Feb 2, 2010

thanks for the post

9:57AM PST on Feb 1, 2010

Children should be nutured at home where they have the opportunity to be the center of attention to one of their parents, until aged 5.

8:54PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

Ann Bibby is right!....We should take responsibility and "be the change that we want"....Enough of all this slander and blame...Our president walked into a "cesspool", he did not create it!....He said it was going to take time, so give it time...Put the shotguns away and clean up our cities and states and country!....It is up to us...And, when the Republicans stop veto-ing every positive change, we will see positive results...Until then, it is hard to make progress when one party does not seem to want the country to succeed for their own selfish political agenda!

7:52PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

I am dubious about Race to the Top, but amazingly, it has brought about more proactive reform from the states than anything has in a very long time. 40 of 50 states applied and they had to change laws and coerce individual school districts do to it. The RttT money is not subject to the freeze nor is the money Obama has promised to appropriate for states general funding. There is an early childhood appropriation working it's way through the Senate, but Health Care Reform has overshadowed almost every the administration has done on education or is proposing for it.

Public education though is the domain of the states primarily. Any meaningful reform has to come from the state and local level and that is really where people need to focus their energy and suggestions. Perhaps it is time to stop expecting the President to fix everything and pitch in a bit ourselves?

7:23AM PST on Jan 31, 2010

thanks for the post

4:10AM PST on Jan 30, 2010

thanks for the post

1:43AM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Wowsux Sue, your comments were interesting, but sorry to say, none of them have a thing based on facts or merit. You're entitled to trust or not trust whomever you wish, but please try to keep your ignorance and bigotry from affecting your decisions. The percentages stated about WHICH "news channel" is most trusted is laughable. Where did those stats come from? FOX is notoriously biased. I watch not just ABC (which tends to lean Democratic), but also NBC and an independent, and then form my own opinions. Matthews "remark" that you quoted only proves you are biased, and while I didn't hear it being made, what on earth difference would it have made, or for that matter, wouldn't it prove that race was NOT a consideration?

As far as him "continuing to campaign", I think nothing could be further from the truth. He went out of his way to state exactly the opposite, and if that was his concern.........to seek a 2nd term, he'd be doing more towards what would make him "popular" instead of what he believes in.

He told Diane Sawyer in an interview earlier this week that he'd rather be a good ONE-TERM President than a mediocre TWO-TERM president. I think he's trying as hard as he can to do what he's promised to do, but has little to work with considering the battle with those that expect miracles or just their OWN agendas are concerned. Until the next election, instead of fighting EVERYTHING he wants to do, or criticizing EVERYTHING he says, try to support him & see

7:06PM PST on Jan 29, 2010

He acts like a petulant child. Has no one ever said no this this man?
I don't trust him. I don't think he knows one thing about creating jobs or what it takes to keep this country safe. The more he says the scarier it gets.

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