At noon today, President Barack Obama spoke to America’s school students, encouraging them to work at their own education, not only for themselves as individuals, but for the nation. We have public education because we believe all children and youths deserve opportunity to learn and become the adults education enables them to be, but also because we believe that an educated population is vital to the well-being of a liberal democracy and a forward-moving society.
I differ from President Obama in his apparent understandings of what is needed to improve public education for the nation’s children and youth. I wish he had kept Linda Darling Hammond and left Arne Duncan in Chicago. I continue to hope he will start listening to educators more than to business people and will dump No Child Left Behind with the invalid and detrimental correlation of standardized test scores with good teaching and real learning. But I also continue to believe he has the good of the nation and its children in mind, not merely the benefit of the testing/publishing companies and the entrepreneurs who want to privatize public education for their profit. I don’t yet believe he really wants to turn teachers into scripted drones and destroy the teaching profession. And I hope and pray my trust in him is not folly.