March 11, 2009

Obama Calls for Overhaul of Education System

Yesterday there was an interesting post from one of the blogs ran by the New York Times. It covered President Obama's speech on Tuesday in which he called for a merit-based system of pay for educators. Please read the post below:

Obama Calls for Overhaul of Education System
By Jeff Zeleny

Published: March 10, 2009

President Obama said Tuesday that the nation must overhaul its education system and dramatically decrease the drop-out rate among students to remain competitive in the global economy.

In an address to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Obama issued a challenge to states to increase the quality of reading and math instruction to keep American students at pace with other countries. It was the first major education speech Mr. Obama delivered since taking office seven weeks ago.

“It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career,” Mr. Obama said. “We have accepted failure for too long – enough. America’s entire education system must once more be the envy of the world.”

The president challenged teachers unions, renewing his support for a merit-based system of payment. He also said adult Americans needed to take responsibility for improving their own education, in addition to improve the education of their children.

“The time for finger-pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here,” Mr. Obama said. “What’s required is not simply new investments, but new reforms. It is time to expect more from our students.”

The address on Tuesday was the first step in laying out the president’s agenda to improve American schools, officials said, with more specifics to be outlined in the coming weeks to Congress. Mr. Obama set a goal of the United States having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

“Let there be no doubt,” Mr. Obama said, “the future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens – and my fellow Americans, we have everything we need to be that nation.”

Mr. Obama called for continued funding of charter schools, which his administration refers to as “laboratories of innovation.” Teachers’ unions oppose the schools, saying they take away funding for public schools. The president also challenged unions, a reliable Democratic constituency, by promoting a merit-based system of payment for teachers, an idea he pledged to support during the campaign.

“It means treating teachers like the professionals they are while also holding them more accountable,” Mr. Obama said. “New teachers will be mentored by experienced ones. Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for improved student achievement, and asked to accept more responsibilities for lifting up their schools.”

Source: The New York Times

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