Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We know that four out of five schools in this country aren’t failing

Obama gave a speech about education yesterday at the Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. Do you think schools within 10 miles of D.C. ever get tired of being used as backdrops?

TOO MANY: “unfortunately too many students aren’t getting a world-class education today.” He didn’t disclose what the right number of students not getting a world-class education would be.

A LOT OF ARGUMENTS: “There were a lot of arguments for a lot of years. Some people thought if you just put more money into education that would solve the problem. And then the other side thought, money doesn’t matter; what we need is reform. In fact, there were those who argued that we should just dismantle the public education system altogether.” So as part of this everyone’s-to-blame-so-no-one’s-to-blame scenario he’s accepting the premise that part of the problem is that liberals just want to throw money at problems. Dirty fuckin’ hippies.

NOT GIVE YOU ANY OF IT, JUST SHOW IT TO YOU: “So what we’re doing is we’re saying to states [with the “Race to the Top” program], prove you’re serious about reform, and we’ll show you the money.” And we’re saying to the remaining 37 states, “Too bad you weren’t serious enough. Come back in five years and maybe we’ll fund your education then.”

WITH “WINNING TO THE FUTURE” ON THE WALL BEHIND HIM, HE COINS ANOTHER LAME CATCHPHRASE: “it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead.” Except the children in the 37 states that aren’t “serious” about reform. They’ll have to find a way to get ahead all by themselves.

AN ASTONISHING NUMBER: “under the system No Child Left Behind put in place, more than 80 percent of our schools may be labeled as failing... That’s an astonishing number.” He’s easily astonished.

WHAT WE KNOW: “We know that four out of five schools in this country aren’t failing.” Indeed, one of the 80% is Kenmore Middle School itself, he says, revealing Kenmore’s shame to a watching world. But “Kenmore -- Kenmore is thriving. You guys are doing great. You got more work to do, but you’re doing fine. (Applause.)” Oh sure, praise the failing school.

AND VICE VERSA: “We need to make sure some of our best teachers are teaching in some of our worst schools.” Some?

OF COURSE MOST AMERICAN STUDENTS ARE BUBBLE-SHAPED THEMSELVES, SO THAT WORKS OUT: “We don’t need to know whether a student can fill out a bubble.”

FOR EXAMPLE, THERE’LL BE A POP QUIZ ON THIS PHOTO OP TOMORROW: “Now, that doesn’t mean testing is going to go away; there will be testing.” So I guess we do need to know whether a student can fill out a bubble.

JUST AS SOON AS WE’RE DONE BANNING THEIR UNIONS AND ELIMINATING THEIR RETIREMENT FUNDS: “In South Korea, teachers are known as ‘nation builders,’ and I think it’s time we treated our teachers with the same level of respect right here in the United States of America.” Or we could give them decent salaries and benefits, but “respect” is a whole lot cheaper, so yeah, let’s go with that instead.

SURELY THAT’S WHAT THE MINIMUM WAGE LAWS ARE FOR: “we’ve got to start valuing our great teachers.”

GETTING INTO IT: “I don’t know any teacher who got into it for the pay.” Although some pay would be, you know, nice. (Actually, Obama’s budget includes hundreds of millions of your tax dollars for teacher incentive plans, which have never been shown to actually work, so that means, I don’t know, that he thinks it’s a bad thing that teachers don’t get into it for the pay, because they’d do a better job if they did.) (I wonder if Obama is such a mediocre president because there’s no incentive scheme?) “The teachers who are here, you got into it for the kids...” We had a high school English teacher like that, but they (eventually) fired him. “...for the satisfaction of feeling like your [sic!] passing on knowledge that these young people will use and carry on for the rest of their lives.” Except for grammar, obviously.

HEY, THOSE TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES DON’T PAY FOR THEMSELVES, YOU KNOW: “A budget that sacrifices our commitment to education would be a budget that’s sacrificing our country’s future.”

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