Race to the Top?
President Obama touted his education policies today in a speech at the 100th anniversary convention of the National Urban League. His much-hyped “Race to the Top” still sounds to me more like a TV reality program than a program that will advance education. It invests heavily in funding charter schools, which offer no more than mixed results while at the same time furthering the demise of inner-city Catholic schools.
In his speech, Obama continued the push for teacher accountability, which is all well and good until one considers that accountability is defined by improved scores on standardized tests. The fallacy of this approach is underscored by stories in New York newspapers today. The state’s education department acknowledged that improving test scores were illusory because the tests had been getting easier. The state is a little late with this – Mayor Michael Bloomberg trumpeted the improved scores in his re-election campaign.
Such number games are a problem across the country, fostered by the No Child Left Behind Act, which set a strict requirement for states to improve reading and math scores but left it to each state to set its standard.
Nonetheless, Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, are charging forward with their reform agenda – basically a continuation of the Bush administration’s business-centric approach.