Callie Thornton
4:31 pm March 13, 2010, by Maureen Downey


President Obama outlined his own education vision Saturday, one that he hopes will replace the punitive elements of the sweeping No Child Left Behind Act and give schools more flexibility in bringing students up to speed. To convey the new focus, the law will get a new name, although it has not been announced. (I am sure a few of you will have some pithy suggestions.)


The president and Ed Secretary Arne Duncan have clearly heard the cries from the classrooms where teachers complained that they were teaching to the tests in a futile attempt to meet impossible and overly rigid standards. Details are few right now, but the president did outline a new direction that is supposed to be kinder, fairer and more realistic.


I am not sure that teachers will agree that the plan is more realistic and fairer as it still seems to have high expectations that schools will make strides with all students.


While the changes suggest a broadening of the definition of a good school, Obama clearly intends to maintain a strong federal role in education and in prodding schools to improve. He is tightening the definition of an effective teacher, requiring that student performance become part of the equation. And he is measuring how well schools diminish the achievement gap between poor children and their more affluent peers.


Among the changes proposed by Obama:


-The new goal for every child would not be proficiency in math and science as measured by test scores, but graduation from high school “college or career ready,” which has become a mantra of sorts for the Obama administration.


-States can use subjects other than reading and mathematics as part of their measurements for meeting federal goals, appeasing the many critics who said that other subjects like history and art were neglected because of No Child’s singular emphasis on reading and math performance.


-In another nod to critics, Obama would dump the law’s pass-fail school grades that rely heavily on test scores, assessing schools on broader criteria, including attendance and the learning climate.


-Taking a page from a reform that briefly was considered in Georgia, the feds would intervene less in schools that are doing well.


According to the story in the AJC:


And, for the first time in 45 years, the White House is proposing a $4 billion increase in federal education spending, most of which would go to increase the competition among states for grant money and move away from formula-based funding.


The blueprint goes before the House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday as Obama pushes Congress to reauthorize the education law this year, a time-consuming task that some observers say will be difficult. Committee Chairman George Miller, a Democrat from California, praised Obama’s plan.
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  1. FOUR BILLION (4 Bil) ?????

    Do you trust this person making changes of any kind with your childs education? If you do, get ready because he is about to make things worse!