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Education Questions for Obama State of the Union
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- Subject: Education Questions for Obama State of the Union
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- Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:39:46 -0500
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Our friend and ally, Anthony Cody, poses some great questions that
viewers can send to President Obama for White House response after
tonight's State of the Union address.
PRESIDENT OBAMA WANTS OUR QUESTIONS
Education Week "Living in Dialogue" Blog -- Monday, January 23, 2012
By Anthony Cody
It has been a busy week for the internet Goliaths -- education tweeters
who have enjoyed turning Michelle Rhee's #sixwordessay contest on its
head. Perhaps we can shift our focus to our President, whose education
policies leave a great deal to be desired.
Tomorrow evening President Obama will take to the air to make his State
of the Union address. Advisor David Plouffe explained that an enhanced
version of this speech will be broadcast on the www.whitehouse.gov
website, and the speech will be followed by a discussion where staff
will respond to questions from the public. Before and after the speech,
use the hashtag #SOTU. For the discussion during the speech, use the
hashtag #WHchat You can also submit your questions via YouTube. See
details here. On January 30, President Obama will hold a separate event
where he will respond to these questions.
This is an opportunity for teachers and parents to communicate our
concerns once again.
So what would you ask the President?
Here are my questions to kick us off. Please add your own below, and if
you have a Twitter account, begin tweeting them as well.
1. No Child Left Behind will soon declare every school a failure. Why
must states agree to use test scores to evaluate teachers and principals
to get relief from this terrible law?
2. You say you don't want teachers to teach to the test. Isn't this
inevitable when you make teacher pay and evaluations depend on these scores?
3. How will your administration respond to states like California that
fail to apply for NCLB waivers?
4. Teachers in Hawaii have just voted to strike rather than agree to the
conditions imposed by the state's Race to the Top application, in
particular an agreement to be evaluated by some as yet to be determined
system based on their test scores. Doesn't this raise questions about
the wisdom of this approach?
5. As we go further down the road of expansion of charter schools,
supported by Race to the Top and other federal policies, researchers are
finding that these schools are intensifying the degree of economic and
racial segregation. Does the administration plan to continue to support
the expansion of charter schools?
6. Last March you said we are too often using tests to punish students
or schools. You suggested we could shift away from annual tests. But
your administration is moving towards even more frequent tests, with
even more rewards and punishments attached to them. Why don't your
policies match what you know to be sound practice?
7. The practice of labeling schools as failures has become impractical
as almost all schools will soon fail according to NCLB. But the idea
that we can improve education for students by declaring their schools
failures, and subjecting them to closures or harsh "turnaround"
strategies has not worked. Your administration's proposal to continue
this practice for the "bottom" 5% of our schools will perpetuate the
high pressure on test scores for student in poverty. If punishing
schools for low test scores has not worked -- as you suggested last
March, (and was not shown to work in Chicago under then CEO Arne Duncan)
why is it being continued for any schools at all?
8. Last year Congress passed a law that allows people with as little as
five weeks of training to take positions of responsibility as full time
teachers. These poorly trained teachers are concentrated in areas of
high poverty. Will you support efforts to reverse this law, to ensure
that all students have fully qualified teachers?
9. I worked in the schools of Oakland for 24 years. We have huge
problems with high teacher turnover, and part of the reason is the
endless pressure to raise test scores. Why would anyone choose to teach
in high poverty schools when this pressure is the status quo?