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Obama: Education is a 'Moral Obligation'


In a historic acceptance speech before 70,000 screaming, stomping supporters, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama declared that it is “time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education.”

Obama got an especially resounding round of applause when he called for the creation of a “new army of teachers” that would be paid higher salaries. He also said that, in exchange, he’ll “ask for higher standards and more accountability.”

The U.S. senator from Illinois didn’t mention the No Child Left Behind Act, the main federal K-12 education law that requires schools to test students and move toward a goal of all students being proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

The nearly 45-minute speech, in which Obama declared “enough!” to the practices of the President Bush's administration over the last eight years, was heavy on foreign policy, the economy, and his signature theme of change.

His address was preceded by speeches from former Vice President Al Gore, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and Susan Eisenhower, a granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Singers Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder spiced up the night.

But perhaps the most said about education came about 30 minutes before Obama's speech, when Teresa Asenap, a teacher from New Mexico, told the crowd in brief remarks that Obama would invest $10 billion in early education and additional funds to make college affordable.

She said: "Our schools don't have the resources they need to meet the high standards of No Child Left Behind."

--Michele McNeil


It is up to us to support this. Remember it is not about Obama. It is about we the voters. We need more individual action and that includes folks in higher education.

I am cautiously optimistic. I really want to see what he means by high standards and accountability. If it means things like better observations, more continuing ed and rigorous subject-area knowledge requirements for teachers I'm all for it. If it means testing, testing, testing, then we are missing the point.

Obama's call for higher standards and more accountability reflect a grave disconnect with the world of education. Just to keep our jobs, educators are required to keep up with more on-going professional development than most medical professionals who make life and death decisions! The standards and requirements we are accountable for are nearly a part-time job themselves!

I am also disappointed that Obama is parroting the mantra of the so-called reformers, "higher standards and accountability." I don't know about your state, but I think in my state, the higher standards are there. That's not the problem. And when I hear "accountability," I hear test scores. I hope he's better than that. I'll vote for him, but it's hard to be rah-rah, when education is my heart and soul, and my bread and butter. I want him to SAY high-stakes tests are wrong for education. Start with better facilities! Continue on with meeting the needs of the whole child.

With regards to the comment in the article, "Our schools don't have the resources they need to meet the high standards of No Child Left Behind." Well, I don't think the NCLB Act has high standards at all. If one looks at the data, NCLB has actually dumbed down the curriculum and put everyone in this nation at risk. Just take a look at the fraudulent practices of Bush's Reading First Initiative. Also notice which programs are being used in schools. And finally notice the use of fear and punishment and management by intimidation all too prevalent in school, because of NCLB. No, NCLB does not have high standards.

Yvonne Siu-Runyan, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita

I completely agree with Dr. Sui-Runyan about NCLB--a negative, punishing proposition from the outset. I also agree with many others here who say, quite clearly, that the same old sound bites are not going to do a thing to change public education. We need to EXPLODE the paradigm, not continue to go backward into the same industrial mentality that has put us in this deplorable place, with our kids' and teachers' backs against the wall, screaming as loud as they can to make someone listen.

A complete reinvention of the system is our real moral obligation: Human-size schools, not factories. Creative and critical thinking, not testing. Personalized, responsive environments for every student. Time, support, and collaborative structures for teachers. A "coaching" approach to academics so every kid can succeed--and EVERY teacher can feel like a HERO!!

Okay, there are some new sound bites. My vote to the first politician who uses them!! www.ChangeTheSchools.com

10 billion for early education! There is no data to indicate that early educaction "pre-school" helps improve later educational achievement. Georgia has expanded its pre-school program to cover most of the population and it has done nothing to improve achievement levels. Most young children are better off at home with their parents. This is nothing but a welfare program to provide free child care.

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