It’s pretty fascinating to see people who fall all over themselves to endorse President Obama criticize him sharply on his education policies.
We’re concerned about a federal take over of education where parents and local stakeholders will lose influence over education policy. They’re afraid of teachers losing their jobs.
But Obama’s first term also saw the creation of the Race to the Top program, which angered unions by requiring participating states to evaluate teachers based on student test scores. His rhetoric toward teachers was tough during his first term, but softened as reelection approached. So which Obama will we see?
“My worst fear is it’ll continue to be the same,” said Diane Ravitch, a New York University historian and one of Obama’s most vitriolic critics on education (my note – she endorsed him). “His education policy is indistinguishable from Mitt Romney’s, aside from vouchers. It’s based on test test test test.”
While Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is one of the union presidents who helped reelect Obama, she has similar reservations. “We’re going to be out there pushing to end the fixation on testing and displace that fixation with a fixation on teaching, to fight to fix and not close public schools, but to make public schools the centers of community,” she said.
Maybe Obama has been having it both ways all along, said Alexander Russo, a blogger and former congressional education aide. “They’ve figured out how to give resources to education and on a separate track, push for reform, and doing those things separately but simultaneously wins them the reluctant allegiance of teachers and career educators who want schools to be better funded and reformers who want schools to have better outcomes,” he said.
The policies, Ravitch says, have been confusing. “The president sends out mixed messages,” she said. “He says he doesn’t want teachers teaching to the test, and that he likes that his daughter’s school doesn’t focus to the test, but I wish someone can get across the idea to him that he should want that for other children.”
Well the “enemy” of my “enemy” is my friend? Hmmm….