Senator Obama wants to double federal spending on charter schools, to over $400 million, despite concerns from teacher’s unions that charter schools have moved money away from public schools, keeping them from implementing identified improvements. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the answer.
In an AP release, Debra Pickler notes that “While teachers unions typically oppose the idea of performance-based merit pay, Obama is embracing the idea along with demands that teachers who don’t meet standards are removed from the classroom. Obama’s campaign said teacher performance could be judged by peer review, student test results, classroom evaluations or other processes.”
To my mind, that sounds a lot like the Bush/Kennedy No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Teacher performance standards. Testing of students to verify academic progress. Classroom evaluations. Special programs for special education and gifted students.
We know that before starting his political career, Mr Obama was a director on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant project to reform schools in Chicago. They raised around $110M for the 4-year effort, but when they were done, an evaluation of the effort concluded “no significant improvement.”
Now Mr Obama wants to use federal funding to try to improve schools nationwide. I served 4 years on the board of a private classical school, and know that for a lot less money than any comparably sized public school, we were pretty close to the top for academic performance in the region. I know that money is important, but money isn’t the answer if the pedagogy is flawed. And we know Mr Obama’s ideas on pedegogy improvement is flawed.
I don’t trust that Senator Obama has the ability to improve educational quality, no matter how much money is spent. Neither should you.