Educate All Kids Like Sasha and Malia

Obama's education policies are failing children, except for his own.

By Leonie Haimson

Now that Barack Obama has been re-elected president, it’s time that he start making good on the education issues he emphasized during his campaign. While in speeches and in ads the president seized on Romney’s statement that class size doesn&rsquo [RETURN TO ARTICLE]

  • Reader Comments

    Bravo! Best, Neal H. Hurwitz, NY NY

    Posted by Nealhugh Hurwitz on Nov 21, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Excellent article- thanks, Leonie. ALL public schools deserve the same school conditions that the 1% demand for their own children.

    Posted by jc grim on Nov 21, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    So, how does BO plan to finance the 200,000 math and science teachers he said in one of the recent debates he would hire if re-elected?

    Posted by LucyTeachesMath on Nov 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    This is a well written article. I hope it’s true that “across the country, resistance to corporate-style education is growing in intensity and breadth.” To be honest, I don’t see it. I mean—- there’s a lot of TALK about “resistance,” but I just don’t see the kind of deadly serious; taking-no-prisoners type of authentic agitation, education, organization, and mobilization, which will surely be required in order to adequately address and turn the widespread, urban education crisis around, and certainly in order to wrestle control out of the hands of disconnected, unconcerned, millionaire and billionaire profiteering privatisers. The situation reminds me of Frederick Douglass (see below).
    Also, where huge numbers of predominantly black and brown, urban students are concerned—-  it is important for us to be crystal-clear about the reasons why standardized testing is so damaging (see information at the following links).

    http://communityeducationtaskf… (Page 5)

    (page 4)

    (1857) Frederick Douglass, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”…

    “Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

    This struggle may be a moral one,  or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,  or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”

    Frederick Douglass, Two Speeches by Frederick Douglass… (Rochester,  1857).

    Posted by Guest on Nov 21, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Educate the rest of the hoi polloi like Sascha and Malia?  You must be joking, don’t count on it. Privilege alone matters in the USA.  Anyone who believes BO is going to anything different the next four years, other than build on the Bush II policies and belligerency, is seriously delusional.  Obama is a follower, not a leader, and is only beholden to the special interests that got him elected.

    Posted by Hanson on Nov 21, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Teach for America has been very good for my kid’s school. It has brought youth, energy and insperation into the class rooms where it had been missing. Some regular teachers are jaded and others are just plane bad. I will take a Teach For America teacher over them in a heart beat.

    Posted by Bbja on Nov 21, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    As parents, the Obamas are making the best educational choice for their kids and that is their right as parents!  Therefore EVERY OTHER PARENT in America should have the same right to do the same. A parent should be able to put their child in a school that can meet the educational and life needs of their children! We must end separate and unequal schools (read brown v. board of education)!…

    Posted by Gwen Samuel on Nov 22, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    As parents, the Obamas are making the best educational choice for their kids and that is their right as parents!  Therefore EVERY OTHER PARENT in America should have the same right to do the same. A parent should be able to put their child in a school that can meet the educational and life needs of their children no matter where they live ! We must end separate and unequal schools (read brown v. board of education)!…

    Posted by Gwen Samuel on Nov 22, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Good points. Now Watch this:

    Posted by Maiyoua Vang on Nov 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Haimson’s hypocrisy continues to amaze everyone. Bashing the Obama’s who worked hard all their lives because unlike the author, were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, is outrageous. Where do Haimson’s kid(s) attend school? Are they in a public school? Did Haimson attend public schools? Answer is no. Don’t criticize the Obama’s when your kid(s) attend private schools too. Next time, practice full disclosure and state where your kid(s) attend private school before criticizing the President of the United States of America or any other parents that support a parents right to choose the best school that meets the needs of the child the same way you did. Haimson has no clue and doesn’t speak for parents. She’s never walked in the Obama’s or the majority of NYC parents’ shoes. And, also disclose you’re funded by the teacher’s union.

    Posted by Tabatha on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    They forgot to mention why parents and students are voting with thier feet? The current system does not get the job done and hasn’t for many years even before No Child Left Behind. Hello

    Posted by shepherdkisses on Nov 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Throughout history various governments have made it illegal to privately or home education children, generally in the time of a totalitarian regime for example mandatory indoctrination through propaganda in the Hitler Youth and propaganda in education under various communist regimes. -Steven C. Wyer

    Posted by stephhance001 on Nov 26, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I’m pretty surprised at Leonie’s position here.

    The teachers at Sidwell Friends aren’t unionized. They contribute, depending on their plan, 10-40% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. There’s no free health care in retirement, and only a defined contribution 403b plan, no pension.

    Sidwell Friends teachers aren’t certified or required to have graduate degrees in education. They are at-will employees who can be terminated at any time for any reason. Their compensation isn’t determined by a rigid salary schedule that completely ignores teacher ability.

    Last, and this is where this piece really contradicts Leonie’s usual take on things, Sidwell Friends is a school of choice: every single family there has made the conscious decision to opt out of their local zoned school.

    So while the points about testing, class size, curriculum, and teacher turnover are well taken, I have to ask: do you *really* want our public schools to operate like Sidwell Friends?

    Posted by Tim on Nov 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Tabatha: you completely misinterpret this article.  I am not criticizing Obama for sending his children to private school; I am criticizing him for choosing one kind of education for his own children and promoting a very different kind of education for other people’s children.  Poor kids need smaller classes & plenty of art, music etc. even more than middle class or wealthy children, and yet instead they are getting worsening diet of test prep and larger classes every year.  And also, though I think this is irrelevant, I had children in NYC public schools for 17 years.

    Posted by leonie haimson on Nov 30, 2012 at 3:04 PM