Obama defends education policies to critics


Challenging civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions that have criticized his education policies, President Barack Obama said that minority students have the most to gain from overhauling the nation’s schools, reports the Associated Press. “We have an obligation to lift up every child in every school in this country, especially those who are starting out furthest behind,” Obama told the centennial convention of the National Urban League. The Urban League has been a vocal critic of Obama’s education policies, most notably the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” program that awards grants to states based on their plans for innovative education reforms. Obama pushed back July 29, arguing that minority students are the ones who have been hurt the most by the status quo. Obama’s reforms also have drawn criticism from education advocates, including prominent teachers’ unions like the American Federation of Teachers, who have argued that the reforms set unfair standards for teacher performance. Obama said the goal isn’t to fire or admonish teachers, but to create a culture of accountability. He pinned some of the criticism on a resistance to change. Seeking to ease his strained relationship with the powerful teacher’s unions, Obama hailed teachers as “the single most important factor in a classroom,” calling for higher pay, better training, and additional resources to help teachers succeed. “Instead of a culture where we’re always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who shape our children’s future,” he said…

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