Obama on Education: Charter Schools and Vouchers?
Mickey Kaus at Slate presents a case, made on recent statements by and about Sen. Barack Obama, that he is not as "left" on education as some of his supporters might believe.
Kaus points to a recent article at the Democrats for Educations Reform website that points out that Obama has said that charter schools are one of the places where he has broken away from other Democrats (he likes them); that in an interview with the Baltimore Sun when asked how the "troubled No Child Left Behind education program might be salvaged, Mr. Obama said achievement testing should not be abandoned but rather complemented with other measures of progress and more aid for schools."; and that while he "worried that vouchers won't generate the kind of supply of high-quality schools we will need" if vouchers are shown to work for students "he wouldn't allow his skepticism to stand in the way of doing something to help them."
"You do what works for the kids," Obama said.
The article on the Democrats for Education Reform site also quotes Obama as saying at a fundraiser in New York last year that the reason that it was difficult for Democrats to support charter schools was "the teachers unions as the obstacle on the political side. He noted that the American public was hungry for change and that the unions' leadership was going to have to decide whether they want to be in on it, or be completely left behind."
But Obama's positions about education appear more nuanced than the original piece might indicate - he also added in his interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board cited in the Kaus article that he also believes that teachers need to be paid more money, be better trained, given more support, principals be better prepared and that teaching colleges should be accredited. But he believes that just throwing money at the problem isn't the answer, and that education reform requires that a variety of changes be implemented.
3:41 PM ET | 02-15-2008 | permalink