“The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens — and my fellow Americans, we have everything we need to be that nation. It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career. We have accepted failure for too long — enough. America’s entire education system must once more be the envy of the world.” -President Obama
If anything is clear from President Obama’s first 50 days in office, it’s that he has no problem multi-tasking. After passing his stimulus bill, setting out foreign policy on Iraq and Afghanistan and signing an executive order on stem cell research, he has now begun the task of reforming education in the country.
Today the president outlined his far-reaching vision on how education must be reformed. He called for states to remove the limits on the number of charter schools – a move with which teacher’s unions oppose for fear that money for public schools will be reduced.
“I call on states to reform their charter rules, and lift caps on the number of allowable charter schools, wherever such caps are in place.”
The president also called for new rules which would pay higher salaries to teachers who excelled in their roles as educators. Obama said it was time to “treat teachers like the professionals they are, while also holding them more accountable.”
Intial reaction from teacher’s union was cautious. Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.4 million member American Federation of Teachers said, “We finally have an education president. We really embrace the fact that he’s talked about both shared responsibility and making sure there is a voice for teachers, something that was totally lacking in the last eight years.”
Ms. Weingarten also noted that while welcoming the “goals and inspirations” of the President, “as with any public policy, the devil is in the details, and it is important that teachers’ voices are heard as we implement the president’s vision.”
We’ve yet to hear from Republicans on the proposed education reform but it’ll be hard to argue against the President’s call to have the United States have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
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