In his address to Congress last night President Obama promised: "We will expand our commitment to charter schools." Today, as the blogosphere buzzes over the speech, education watchers and International Community School teachers alike are taking that commitment seriously. Calling it "one of the most important lines in President Obama's speech," Kevin Carey, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education's blog Brainstorm, discussed the power presidents have to refocus public education debates. Just as President Bush's focus on testing and accountability all but killed a debate about vouchers that had raged since the Reagan administration, so, Carey argued, "Obama's forceful position on charter schools is likely to have the same effect." Charter school opponents, he wrote: "You're in for a long eight years."At Politico's blog The Arena, education heavy-hitters weighed in for and against.
"President Obama's enthusiasm for charter schools is baffling. Doesn't he realize that they are a deregulation strategy much beloved by Republicans?" wrote NYU education historian Diane Ravitch, "If he thinks that deregulation is the cure for American education, I have some AIG stock I'd like to sell him."
Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern University, was ready to get down to brass tacks. "[The] key," he wrote, "is to switch to funding public schools out of statewide collected taxes instead of funding them out of local property taxes and creating many, many more charter school and private schools where students can cash in the education credit or voucher that their stateought to give them."Writing on his own blog, University of South Florida education professor Sherman Dorn wasn't impressed. "[T]here isn't that much from the president's address that's dramatically news-breaking on education policy," he wrote. "President Obama is now the 6th president since 1960 to devote significant lip service to education as human capital and education policy as investment in human capital."
Here in Georgia, ICS second-grade teacher Alyson Barrera was among the many teachers watching Obama's speech last night. Afterward she summed up her feelings in her Facebook status: "Alyson is so glad Obama is our president!"
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