Obama challenges lawmakers to strengthen education

"I intend to fight obstruction with action," the president said.

In a State of the Union address that was as much a campaign speech as a call to action, President Obama touted his administration’s success in spurring school reform and challenged lawmakers to build on this success by investing more in education and research to “prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Facing a deeply divided Congress, Obama appealed for lawmakers to send him legislation on a host of issues, including education, clean energy, housing, and immigration reform—knowing full well the election-year prospects are bleak but aware that polls show the independent voters who lifted him to the presidency crave bipartisanship.

The president contrasted the selflessness and teamwork of the American troops who took out Osama Bin Laden with the gridlock that exists in Congress.…Read More

Obama: Spare education from budget cuts

'Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine,' Obama said.

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, President Obama called for more investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure—setting up a showdown between his administration and Republicans in Congress who are seeking billions of dollars in cuts to domestic spending.

Addressing a nation still reeling from the tragic shooting rampage in Tucson earlier this month that targeted U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and left six people dead, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, Obama called for a members of both political parties to work together in addressing the challenges facing the nation.

“Each of us is a part of something greater—something more consequential than party or political preference,” the president said. “We are part of the American family.” Breaking with tradition, members of Congress adopted a bipartisan seating arrangement that saw many political adversaries sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in an unusual demonstration of unity.…Read More

More Americans skeptical of higher education

Americans believe higher education can trim budgetary 'fat,' according to a survey.
Americans believe higher education can trim budgetary 'fat,' according to a survey.

An increasing percentage of Americans believe colleges and universities prioritize profit margin over educational quality, a claim educators refute as misguided and unfair, especially during the current economic downturn.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, along with Public Agenda, released a report Feb. 17 that highlights respondents’ discontent with the rising costs of college education. The survey, titled, “Squeeze Play 2010: Continued Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges are Run,” shows that six out of 10 Americans now say “colleges today operate more like a business,” taking focus away from academics.

In 2008, 55 percent of respondents said universities were more concerned about the bottom line, an increase from 52 percent in 2007.…Read More

Students use iPods, iPhones to grade Obama’s address

Abilene Christian students answered 50 questions on their iPhones and iPods during Obama's address.
Abilene Christian students answered 50 questions on their iPhones and iPods during Obama's address.

It’s the stuff that makes political pollsters salivate: 30 Abilene Christian University students used iPhones and iPod Touches to respond to President Obama’s Jan. 27 State of the Union address in real time, and a campus technology official said the exercise offered insight into boosting student participation.

Abilene Christian was among the country’s first campuses to bring iPhones to students when the school gave the devices to incoming freshmen last school year. Freshmen and sophomores now have university-issued iPhones and iPod Touches, and professors from the political science and journalism programs assembled 30 students to gauge their reaction during Obama’s first State of the Union speech.

“It was a helpful exercise because … we were able to see if an interactive environment helped students engage in politics differently,” said Dennis Marquardt, Abilene Christian’s educational technology manager, who helped oversee the project.…Read More

Experts say NCLB rewrite will be hard this year

In his State of the Union address, President Obama held out the hope of overhauling the main law outlining the federal role in public schools, a sprawling 45-year-old statute that dates to the Johnson administration. But experts say it would be a heavy lift for the administration to get the job done this year, because the law has produced so much discord, there is so little time, and there are so many competing priorities, reports the New York Times. In 2001, when Congress completed the law’s most recent rewrite, the effort took a full year, and the bipartisan consensus that made that possible has long since shattered. Today there is wide agreement that No Child Left Behind needs an overhaul, but not on how to fix its flaws. NCLB has generated frequent, divisive debate, partly because it requires schools to administer far more standardized tests and because it labels schools that fail to make progress fast enough each year as “needing improvement.” That category draws penalties and has grown to include more than 30,000 schools. Several states sued the Bush administration over the law in the last decade, unsuccessfully. Connecticut challenged its financing provisions, saying it imposed costly demands without providing adequate financing. Arizona fought rules on the testing of immigrant students. “It’s hard to see how they can get” a rewrite done, said Joel Packer, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding. “If there’s some bipartisan agreement about what the administration proposes, and the Republicans say, ‘We want to work together,’ then maybe. But I think it’s going to be tough.”

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Obama calls for more school funding

Education was a key part of President Obama's State of the Union address.
Education was a key part of President Obama's State of the Union address.

Education is one of the few areas of the federal budget that would not see a spending freeze, if President Barack Obama gets his way this year.

In his State of the Union speech on Jan. 27, Obama said his administration will work with Congress to expand school improvements across the country, saying the success of children cannot depend on where they live.

As he prepares to ask Congress for billions of dollars in new spending for education, the president said the nation’s students need to be inspired to succeed in math and science, and that failing schools need to be turned around.…Read More