Although not much has been said about education in the presidential campaign, the candidates have prepared their answers on the issue in case they’re asked the usual question: How are you going to improve education? That’s the question everyone running for office is asked, from president to dog catcher. And the answer is always: I favor improving education by paying teachers more, reducing class size, and spending more money. It’s a litany heard from coast to coast in every election cycle.
Obama, of course, can cite his program, Race to the Top, a plan dreamed up by a Democrat operative, Jon Schnur. His idea was to carve out of the $800 billion stimulus package $15 billion as a jackpot to be divided among states that won a contest related to education reform. Steven Brill writes in his book, Class Warfare:
It would be a real contest, with no state able to prevail because of size or political influence. The winners would be states that submitted the best, most credible specific plans for using data and student-testing systems to evaluate teachers based on student improvement; for creating compensation and tenure systems for principals and teachers that would be based on their effectiveness in boosting their students’ proficiency; for taking over and turning around consistently failing schools; and for encouraging alternatives to traditional public schools — such as charter schools.
An important part of the plan is the implementation of the Common Core Standards, an effort initiated by the National Governors Association which was adopted in 2010 by forty-three states and the District of Columbia. Brill writes: “This was the result of the Race to the Top’s having awarded points to states that participated in standards-setting efforts like this.”
So the adoption of the Common Core Standards, paid for by the $15 billion dollars taken out of the $800 billion stimulus package, is a key part of the Race to the Top. All of these federal reform programs always entail huge expenditures of money for no real improvement, only the illusion of improvement. That was also the case with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law with great fanfare with the cooperation of Ted Kennedy.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)