Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama’s education speech: This is no picnic for me either, buster

Today Obama gave a speech about education or, as he so eloquently put it, “how we will reward quality and incentivize excellence, and make a down payment on the success of the next generation,” to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

He addressed the Republican “distraction” meme, saying he can do more than one thing at a time just like Lincoln built the transcontinental railroad single-handed while fighting the civil war, and Roosevelt fought both the depression and the Japs, and Clinton... oh, I can’t be bothered making a Monica joke, I really can’t.

He started by making the surprising claim that education is actually important. “In a 21st-century world where jobs can be shipped wherever there’s an Internet connection, where a child born in Dallas is now competing with a child in New Delhi, where your best job qualification is not what you do, but what you know”. In comments, what does a child in Dallas know that one in New Delhi does not?

STOP CONFUSING US WITH NUMBERS, BARACK, WE WENT TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: “In 8th grade math, we’ve fallen to 9th place. Singapore’s middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one.”

He blamed lack of reform in education on politics and ideology. “I think you’d all agree that the time for finger-pointing is over,” he said, in what sounds like an exercise in finger-pointing if ever I heard one.

YEAH, BUT HE’S BACK IN CRAWFORD NOW: “We’ve accepted failure for far too long.”

WILL THIS BE ON THE TEST? Other nations are doing a better job educating their children because “They’re spending less time teaching things that don’t matter, and more time teaching things that do.” I’d like a list of things being taught that don’t matter.

Diagraming sentences, I’m guessing.

Do they still teach diagraming sentences?

“From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom.” I think he means the teacher. Of course in this country whether the teacher sucks or not might be just a little bit related to the color of skin and income of the students.

OBAMA KNOWS WHAT YOU’RE THINKING – SO WATCH IT! “To any student who’s watching, I say this: Don’t even think about dropping out of school. Don’t even think about it.”

And there were some other things about charter schools (he wants more) and pay for teachers (he wants more for good ones, but didn’t say where it would come from), a longer school year and/or day, etc etc. Also, when he was growing up in Indonesia, his mother would wake him up at 4:30 a.m. to force him to study, saying, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

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