Obama Missed His Chance To Be A Popular “Education” President

936922_10151580217894548_20301048_nIt would have been simple: All the Obama Administration would have needed to do to win brownie points for education reform was to condemn No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the awkward federally-overreaching attempt by George W Bush, that proved once and for all that big government solution for mass education is a flop.

By revoking NLCB Obama would have restored the order for teachers to educate instead of teaching to a test, for children to learn the love of learning over learning to fill in bubbles with a number two pencil, and encourage America’s education professionals to return to innovation and exploration, which is- after all- what successful people in this country do best.

Obama would have pleased states who could feel free to ditch expensive state assessments, unions that constantly have to retrain their workforce- and even parents as schools would assert more independence and that means school choice.

And he could have gloated about it too.

Conservatives would be just as likely to run and defend No Child Left Behind as they would be to support a massive tax hike right now.

But no.

The best the Obama Administration had in its bag of education reform tricks was “Race to The Top” by implementing “Common Core Standards.”

Common Core is everything that is wrong with NCLB, amplified.  It is NCLB 2.0- with fewer academic rigors in the expectations, but with a larger price tag and requiring much more privacy intrusive data.

The content and sequence of Common Core is so ill planned that Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards because they would put US students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries. And language teachers are desperately trying to figure out how to teach Orwell’s “Animal Farm” alongside a history lesson in the Russian Revolution- to first graders who barely read, let alone know anything about Russia or revolutions.

But wait! If this isn’t enough to turn off parents and educations, there is more:
To achieve these standards and hold teachers accountable, Common Core comes with a mandatory collection of children’s private information, such as skin color, family income, and medical information, to mention a few of the 400 data points. This information which has little to do with actually educating a child is already being collected and tied to individual students using retina scans and fingerprinting- without requiring parental permission. The feds thought ahead and changed Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to make sure this information can be shared with any state department without asking permission or even notifying parents.

If we must teach Orwell literature to elementary students, maybe we should start with “1984.” It might at least answer the children’s big-eyed question “Why are we doing this?”

I’m kidding, of course.  But don’t you find it ironic that America has led the world in prosperity and business ingenuity for so many generations in spite of it’s subpar K-12 academic delivery?

The U.S. continues to slum the bottom as it has for decades when comparing student performance with international peers, while this same country pump out products like Apple, Facebook, and Nike. Is it coincidental that some of the most successful American inventors achieved this success without completing their own formal education?

I think not.

We have unfortunately gone awry in our education priorities with the help of backwards-thinking politicians and educrats.

It isn’t government “standards” that will fix US education, but American values.

The American Dream that makes our country different than all the others in the world. With unalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there is a promise that if you work hard to can be successful.

It’s the land of opportunity, not the land of guarantees.

The further we get away from the values that gave us liberty and the government unregulated playground for young entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Steve Jobs- the further away we get from offering the American Dream to the next generation.

Take it from someone who grew up in a socialistic country, there is a reason why they never coined the phrase “The Chinese Dream,” or “The French Dream.”

Well, maybe they did, but it was probably more a wish that French women would start shaving their armpits.

Eduwonks simply have it wrong then aiming American education at being like the rest of the world, over supporting an education climate that allows for creativity, exploration, and dare I say it- kids.

Somehow this is an idea that politicians continue to fail to understand as evident in both Bush’s No Child Behind and Obama’s Common Core Standards, proving that bad ideas are just as bad regardless of which party is in the Presidential chair.

Maybe the next Administration will embrace what makes this country great and apply those principles to education policy.

Karin Piper

Colorado PolitiChick Karin Piper is an award winning author and transparency expert specializing in education and union transparency. She provides policy tools necessary for parents, union memberis, teachers and decision makers to become informed consumers in the educational marketplace. She also serves as executive director of ParentledReform.org, an organization she helped found, and works with various other non-partisan likeminded organizations. Karin was a finalist for OGI's 2012 Burke-Carr Public Interest Awards and nominated as candidate for Charter School Friend of the Year in 2009. Her knowledge of state and federal open records laws and tireless advocacy for open union negotiations has been featured by major media outlets across the nation. Her debut book, CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents, was awarded a 2009 finalist in best books for parenting and education, by USA Book News and appeared in bookstores around the world. Born and raised in Sweden, she lives in Douglas County, Colorado, the epicenter of education reform. Karin is a frequently sought as a parental voice and expert opinion in response to much of today's political edu-rhetoric and legislation proposals. She has been interviewed by many news outlets, including CBS, NBC, KNUS, EdNews, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and many others.

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