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Monday, June 15, 2009

Duncan and Obama are actively inhibiting education change that is meaningful

Bill Maher made an important statement last week when he criticized President Obama for failing to do much to satisfy those who had voted for him.

"But when I read about how you sat on the sidelines while bailed-out banks used the money we gave them to hire lobbyists who got Congress to stop homeowners from getting renegotiated loans, or how Congress is already giving up on healthcare reform, or how scientists say it's essential to reduce CO2 by 40% in 10 years, but your own bill calls for 4%, I say, enough with the character development, let's get on with the plot."

But Maher left out education. How is our President doing on education? His education secretary has announced plans for national standards:

"This Sunday Duncan proposed a system in which schools signing on to the standardized benchmark will benefit from a $350 million pot aimed at assisting in the development of the new test needed to measure the potentially nationalized educational standards."

He has also announced his intention to lengthen the school day and school year with the express intent of helping students prepare for tests.

Or, to put this another way. The President has so failed on education already that his failures on banking, health care, and the climate pale by comparison, He has effectively said, to people like me, who are actually trying to make real change in the schools: forget your ideas about teaching modern subjects (like scientific reasoning, medical decision making, internet startups, or how to take care of a child) because we are going to continue to ram the algebra, US history, and science facts formulas view of education down everyone's throats and will actively prevent meaningful change. And forget learning by doing. There will be none of that. There will learning by memorizing.


I asked my sources in the White House. "We are trying to get re-elected here. The voters care about test scores." That is what they said. Really.

Bill Maher, you don't realize how bad it really is.

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