President Barack Obama started the school week Sept. 27 with a call for a longer school year, and he said the worst-performing teachers have “got to go” if they don’t improve quickly, reports the Associated Press. Bemoaning America’s decreasing global educational competitiveness, Obama sought in a nationally broadcast interview to reinvigorate his education agenda. At the same time, the president acknowledged that many poor schools don’t have the money they need, and he defended federal aid for them. But Obama also said that money alone won’t fix the problems in public schools, saying higher standards must be set and achieved by students and teachers alike. Asked in an interview if he supported a year-round school year, Obama said: “The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense.” He did not specify how long that school year should be but said U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries. The president admitted that his own daughters, Malia and Sasha, couldn’t get the same quality education at a Washington, D.C., public school that they currently get at their private school. The Obama girls attend Sidwell Friends School, an elite private school in the Washington area. “The DC public schools systems are struggling,” Obama said, though he added that the school district has “made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform.” Separately on Sept. 27, Obama announced a goal of recruiting 10,000 teachers who work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math over the next two years. In a statement, Obama said such education is vital to allowing students to compete against their peers in today’s economy……Read More
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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……Read More