16 March 2009 11:20 AM

President Obama's Emphasis on Education

by Dr. Rick

I love what President Obama has been saying about education lately.  I’m heartened by his words not only because I agree with them, but also because I’ve been saying many of the same things right here in this blog.


In his speech to the Joint Session of Congress last month, the President, talking of education, stressed several themes:

  • Increased accountability of schools
  • Helping students meet world-class standards aligned to the demands of the 21st century workforce
  • Closing an achievement gap among learners
  • New reforms in the teaching profession
  • Attracting the best and the brightest to the teaching profession
  • Confronting the dangerous drop-out problem
  • Strengthening the transitions to college and careers
  • Encouraging personal responsibility

In his expansion on his education agenda on March 10, he focused on even more specific goals.

  • Recognizing what research and common sense tell us, the President pointed out that “the years before kindergarten comprise the most critical time in a child’s life to influence educational outcomes.”  He called for a “Zero to Five” effort to improve developmental outcomes and early learning.
  • He called for improved data collection, especially from early learning programs like Head Start.
  • He emphasized enhancing curricular rigor in K-12 education to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and the innovative use of knowledge needed to meet 21st century skills.
  • He stressed the importance of new, state-of-the-art assessments.

I’m particularly interested in what he says about teachers and the teaching profession.  Once again, we agree.


“Teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning,” he said.  He can be excused the redundant syntax (“single most important”) because he so evidently means his words.

  • He called for improved professional development and mentoring, especially for new and struggling teachers.
  • He supports a new national investment in recruiting the best and the brightest to our profession.
  • He supports performance pay models and other rewards for effective teachers.
  • He supports charter schools with rigorous accountability.
  • He called for shutting down failing charter schools.

And, in another area in which we agree, he called for personal responsibility on the parts of parents – turn off the TV and the video games – and of students, telling them that when they drop out they give up on themselves and their country.


It’s good to hear such intelligent, impassioned, common-sense remarks about education from the President.  It’s even better to have some of my own thoughts and opinions affirmed.


Regular readers of this blog will recall my thoughts on many of the topics the President addressed: 

These are only a few examples.  There are others.  See the “Archive” section above for more.


It’s early yet in Mr. Obama’s administration, but I’m encouraged by his insistence that educational excellence begins at home with supportive and involved parents and extends to well-run schools with dedicated, motivated professionals with kids’ best interests at heart.


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