NBC News president Steve Capus said his network’s Education Nation summit this week would be a fair, serious look at public education today—but it wasn’t even close, writes Washington Post education blogger Valerie Strauss. The events, panels, and discussions were sharply tilted toward Obama’s school reform agenda—focused in part on closing failing schools, expanding charter schools, and using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. It gave short shrift to the enormous backlash against the plan from educators and parents around the country who say that Obama’s education priorities won’t improve schools but will narrow curriculum and drive good teachers out of the profession. NBC seemed to take for granted that Obama’s education policies are sound and will be effective. Seasoned journalists failed to ask hard questions and fell all over their subjects to be sympathetic. It was a forum for people to repeatedly misstate the positions of their opponents. The one school district that was the subject of a panel was New Orleans, which was remade after Hurricane Katrina with public charter schools. (Never mind that charter schools educate less than five percent of the school children in the country and can never be a systemic solution to the troubles that ail urban districts.) A panel on innovation was packed with charter school folks, sending a message that only charter schools are innovative, which they, by and large, are not……Read More
Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eSchool News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
Public opinion turning against Obama education plans
A new Gallup Poll has found fewer Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in support of public education, but they continue to have a highly favorable opinion of their local schools, reports the Associated Press. The drop in the president’s education approval ratings—as found in the random telephone poll of about 1,000 Americans in June—mirrors the drop in his general approval rating in other recent polls, said Shane Lopez, senior scientist in residence for Gallup. The education poll released Aug. 25 was paid for by Phi Delta Kappa (PDK). It found 34 percent gave the president a grade of A or B for his work in support of public schools, compared with 45 percent at the same time in 2009. They gave even worse grades for the quality of the nation’s schools, but said they approve of their local schools. Americans picked school budgets and improving teacher quality as their top education issues, but said they were mostly unaware of the impact of Congress’ stimulus dollars on education. “We have a love affair with our local schools, especially the schools that our children attend,” Lopez said. But that doesn’t mean people have a deep knowledge of how schools get the money that makes them succeed, he added. The PDK/Gallup poll has been criticized in previous years for framing its questions to validate the organization’s agenda—support for smaller classes and higher teacher pay and criticism of the No Child Left Behind law. PDK critic Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, thinks the organization did a slightly better job this year of exploring the issues, but dislikes the way the poll was presented. “I’m not so sure this is a public opinion survey, rather than an attempt to influence people to think in a certain way about the issues,” Allen said……Read More
Civil rights groups skewer Obama education policy
It is most politely written, but a 17-page framework for education reform being released July 26 by a coalition of civil rights groups amounts to a thrashing of President Obama’s education policies and offers a prescription for how to set things right, reports the Washington Post. You won’t see these sentences in the piece: “Dear President Obama, you say you believe in an equal education for all students, but you are embarking on education policies that will never achieve that goal and that can do harm to America’s school children, especially its neediest. Stop before it is too late.” But that, in other nicer words, is exactly what it says. The courteous gloss on this framework can’t cover up its angry, challenging substance. The framework’s authors start as conciliatory, applauding Obama’s goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020. But quickly their intent is clear. They take apart the thinking behind the administration’s education policies, and note a number of times the differences between what Obama and Duncan say about education and what they do……Read More
National STEM program increases reach
President Barack Obama on Jan. 6 announced the expansion of the Educate to Innovate program he launched last November, including the creation of several new partnerships to help attract, develop, reward, and retain outstanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teachers.
These partnerships build upon initiatives already announced by Obama Nov. 23, and include programs involving major companies, universities, foundations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. (See “Obama launches new STEM initiatives.”)
“Several new public-private partnerships are going to offer additional training to more than 100,000 teachers and prepare more than 10,000 new teachers in the next five years alone,” Obama said.…Read More