Obama backed into his answer, praising charter schools and suggesting the federal government encourage innovation both by the president’s “bully pulpit” and by advertising “best practices” for schools to observe and emulate.
But, he went on, “this has always been a problem when it comes to education reform policies. There are always good schools in every state, in every school district and at every income level. You can go into every state and you can point to one school or five schools or ten schools that are doing a great job of educating their kids. The question we have to figure out is how do we scale up? How do we take the lessons of a great school like MESA, and have a hundred good schools like MESA?
“And there are a lot of ingredients to that, but probably the biggest challenge is making sure that we’ve got great educational leaders, both teachers and principals, in those schools and we’ve got to produce more and more of those.
During the question and answer period, Obama was asked about bilingual education, especially given current climate of immigration. Obama believes that everyone should be bilingual or even “trilingual.” “When we as a society do a really bad job teaching foreign languages – it is costing us when it comes to being competitive in a global marketplace,” he said.
He was also asked about the federal government’s role in a world of charter schools and the success of private foundations on small school public education, such as the school where he was appearing. Obama immediately expressed his support for charter schools, citing the importance of “innovation at the local level.” But Obama treaded lightly, saying that there are always good schools in every state. Earlier in his speech, Obama referred to the ongoing teacher talks in Denver. Dozens of teachers in two different public schools called in sick in opposition to their ongoing contract negotiations.
At the Wednesday event, Obama regurgitated the (inaccurate) slam that NCLB relies on a “a single, high-stakes test,” according to this report (Obama tours Colorado school, touts education plans EdWeek) and did the whole curriculum narrowing thing, too, about which I have my doubts.
He’s also proposing a national service-type thing that to my eye looks an awful lot like a federal version of TFA. Just what schools (and school reform) doesn’t need — more FNG short-timers making everyone feel good about high-need schools (Full text of Obama’s education speech). Yeah, I’m against that.