President Obama wants your kids to stay in school longer

Drawing of the front of a swank private school. The in-drawing dialogue bubble reads "I'll see the ghetto dude now."

No more dark sarcasm in the classroom - or class wars. American schools need to shape up, says the president. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Jay Cables/Drive-By Times)

Throwing money at America’s schools with the hope that the cash advance will instantly translate into a transcendent educational experience has always been short-sighted. Thus, it comes as no surprise that on “Today’s” “Education Nation” week, President Obama told Matt Lauer that education reform is the key. With millions of stay-at-home moms and dads watching – the president’s target audience for his American education message – Obama said that there should be a longer school year and that teacher accountability should be monitored for the sake of the profession and for our children.

Throwing cash at schools now won’t fix the problem

“When you look at the statistics,” President Obama told “Today,” it’s easy to see that the cash now approach hasn’t made a difference. As pupil results have fallen over the past 20 years, spending per pupil has risen. The president did point out that money makes a difference in some schools, such as those without the funding to provide up-to-date textbooks. However, the money pales in comparison to the need for education reform.

Better teachers and a longer school year

The president’s education reform agenda includes increased standards and decreased bureaucratic waste in the teaching profession. Under-performing teachers are not shielded by unions and tenure; it’s shape up or ship out. Mr. Obama did not specify how much longer American kids should remain in school (there were references to an additional month), but he did point out to Lauer that students in the American education system spend less time in the classroom on average than kids in “most other advanced countries.” That would be fine if U.S. schools taught more efficiently than those of other nations, but that isn’t the case.

‘Race to the Top’ and achieve

The Obama administration’s ongoing “Race to the Top” initiative, which rewards schools that show the greatest commitment to education reform, will distribute $4 billion in funding. Schools subject to funds reject the notion of a “status quo in which one-third of children are dropping out,” said Obama. Teachers’ unions must be amenable to change and willing to comply with more stringent standards of instructor evaluation.

Proper instructor training, hiring the best and brightest teachers and a commitment to ongoing teacher education are all key parts of “Race to the Top.” But an equally important part of ensuring American schoolchildren are successful in their studies is parental involvement. Fostering good study habits and showing kids they care are vital tasks for which parents must be responsible.



More on “Race to the Top”

Other recent posts by bryanh