March 11, 2009
Obama's Gift on Education

That would be his gift to the Evergreen State GOP if properly handled.

Obama's education speech yesterday was very One-like: exceptionally centrist in language, which I repeat, were remarks thematically similar to that which could have been given by George W. Bush. The true test, however, will come in the details of the policy proposals ultimately pursued. As we've seen in recent weeks, Obama's actual policies haven't exactly matched his past rhetoric (whatever happened to going "line-by-line" through the budget?).

Meanwhile, Obama's explicit discussion and backing of merit pay continues to give local GOP candidates a huge opening. Successful Republican legislative candidates, running in targeted races last fall, began a positive shift from recent history by speaking effectively on public education. That trend must continue.

At some point, for good or for ill, Olympia will deal with the current budget mess. The natural next step, especially in the 2010 session, will be major policy debates. Healthcare is one probable topic. K-12 education is another, with changes to the WASL and high school graduation requirements in the spotlight. With K-12 education such a large component of the state budget and a perennially top state-level issue for voters, it is imperative the GOP properly equipped for such discussions.

To succeed in those policy debates, and be equipped for a potentially fertile 2010 election season, Republicans must have clear and effective agendas to improve public education. Rewarding good teachers and incentivizing future such success is good public policy, held hostage for too long by the status quo mentality of many in the teachers' union. It can and should be a core element of a GOP K-12 agenda.

As we've outlined before, there is a unique convergence of non-Republican voices pushing the expansion of merit/performance-based pay pilot programs that began under President Bush: Obama himself, his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Bill Gates. Furthermore, the influx of federal money via the "stimulus" and the Gates Foundation's still formidable grant-making power mean that two of the only large, viable sources of new education funding in a time of fiscal scarcity are in a position to put this reform concept into greater practice.

Those policies should be welcomed and assisted in their advance by conservatives. And local Republicans should be taking up that banner and making it their own at the state-level, especially with such a powerful opportunity to leverage the public support of Obama, Duncan, & Gates in doing so.

Two footnotes to Obama's education speech:

1) How sad is it that Obama can be so vigorous, at least rhetorically, on the value of public charter schools, yet the WEA has been so insistent on public campaigns to trash the idea and halt its implementation in our own state?

2) Note that despite the clamor of some Bush critics, who fervently believed that No Child Left Behind would ride off into the sunset with that evil cowboy from Longhorn country, that Obama's speech not only declined to diminish the law, it clearly articulated entrenching - even expanding - its core principles.

Posted by Eric Earling at March 11, 2009 10:09 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Well one thing is for sure, he's already lied to us about the budget.
What would ever make you think he's telling the truth on merit pay.

Besides, we know Obama is waist deep in the unions.
Just have to see how long American's keep wearing blinders?

Posted by: Medic/Vet on March 11, 2009 10:11 AM
2. I can only imagine that once the NEA takes him behind the woodshed or clues him in (through minion Pelosi) - he will modify that way of thinking.

Posted by: Martha on March 11, 2009 10:14 AM
3. If you support these core initiatives:
Effective, empowered teachers and school leaders;
Student assessments that stress 21st century skills;
Universal access to high-quality early education;
A safe, healthy learning environment; and
Affordable college for all students;
Then let President Obama know! Visit EDVOTERS.ORG and sign the petition today!

Posted by: DanGiaco on March 11, 2009 10:59 AM
4. * more unions
* more unions
* ?
* profit!

Posted by: Crusader on March 11, 2009 01:44 PM
5. Of course Obama is for merit pay; he'll use his tax plan to take that extra merit pay from the top teachers and give it to the lowest teachers as well... That way the merit pay is "earned" but it's also "fair" for everyone...

HOPE AND CHANGE!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 11, 2009 03:03 PM
6. He had a lot of good things to say on both Merit Pay and on Charter Schools yesterday. And he did comment that this was a disagreement with supporters of his party.

I can say we should at least cautiously consider him on this one because the only promises he hasn't broken so far are the ones having to do with spending LOADS of our money...and the stimulus package just tripled the funding of the Department of Education. Shanghai Dan might be right--that every teacher will "merit" extra pay under Obama, but Damn...he can't trash everything he touches, can he?

Conservativenorthwest.com

Posted by: conservativenorthwest on March 11, 2009 06:17 PM
7. He had a lot of good things to say on both Merit Pay and on Charter Schools yesterday. And he did comment that this was a disagreement with supporters of his party.

I can say we should at least cautiously consider him on this one because the only promises he hasn't broken so far are the ones having to do with spending LOADS of our money...and the stimulus package just tripled the funding of the Department of Education. Shanghai Dan might be right--that every teacher will "merit" extra pay under Obama, but Damn...he can't trash everything he touches, can he?

Conservativenorthwest.com

Posted by: conservativenorthwest on March 11, 2009 06:18 PM
8. Conservative Northwest,

Oh he can absolutely trash everything he touches. He is more concerned with the Left's perception of "fairness" of a program than the actual results.

All failing is to be preferred to some succeeding. Consistency and mediocrity is valued over the occasional massive success.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 12, 2009 04:54 PM
9. WTF ? Read between the lines. I wished that I were wrong, but don't see any more advances on charter schools being made for at least the next 2-4 years. BHO is not really walking the talking - sure he can make it sound good, but after someone veers off in another direction more often than not, it becomes hard to take him seriously.

Fairness and competition allowing charter schools into the mix does not mix in this case. It sounds good, but he is being clever by being vague and staying away from specifics. Mr. Obama stresses equalitarian, which is along the lines of the end justifies the means and other such code. Selectively ignorant of reality is more like it.

Public education has been subtly politicized for many years and is only getting worse. Revisionist history and emphasis more on groupthink and discouraging individualism is really what public education has become and we are already seeing the effects. It would take more than bringing back corporal punishment to straighten out the current education system, such as a complete overall and diminishing the power of the Dept. of Education, that was non-existant before 1976, which is when noticeable deterioration of our education system began. Makes perfect sense to me.

Posted by: KS on March 13, 2009 08:23 PM
10. Oh, I'm sure the Obamassiah will allow charter schools!

Of course, they'll need to have State licensed teachers who are members of the union, so we can guarantee the "quality".

And of course the curriculum should be in line - or actually the same - as the regular schools since that's been vetted and approved by "experts".

And we can't really exclude based upon grades or ability, so everyone will be able to go, there won't be any repercussions to failing a class - you still get advanced.

But they'll be charter schools, and other than the teachers, administration, curriculum, and regulations they'll be different from regular public schools!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 13, 2009 09:31 PM
11. What Evergreen State GOP?

There is no serious GOP within Washington State.

It doesn't exist.

Posted by: Les on March 15, 2009 02:57 PM
12. By the way, did you know that Evergreen State was created by a REPUBLICAN Governor?

The University I mean. Rachel Corrie's ala mater.

Posted by: Les on March 15, 2009 02:58 PM
13. What is your point, Les ? Inquiring minds would like to know.

One point that I'll add to; The education system at Evergreen State has been corrupted by the left wing since it was created by a Republican Governor. The Democratic Party has controlled the NEA - they have politicized public schools and it is getting progressively worse - guess that is an accurate definition of progressive - progressively more political & polarized.

Posted by: KS on March 15, 2009 08:50 PM
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