Obama to Shift Focus to Education
As the new year begins with divided government, President Obama will signal a shift in his agenda with this fortchoming State of the Union Address.
The new goal? Education policy reform, specifically tacking the No Child Left Behind Act. This law, while it passed with public support during the George w. Bush administration, has generally been received as having several large flaws, the primary one being an over-reliance on test scores. Many feel the focus on scores has in fact been detrimental to student achievement.
The Obama administration with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the forefront has proposed an overhaul which would aim for solutions to these problems. in theory (while not necessarily the best policy) these ideas come from a place that might have bipartisan support: more flexibility for students and accountability for individual teachers.
Still, even this issue faces a rocky road towards progress, particularly with Republicans adamantely opposed to any spending and any overarching legislation with a whiff of reform.
While education might offer the best chance for the White House to work with newly empowered Republicans, any consensus could fade in the pitiless political crosscurrents, leaving the debate for another day, perhaps even another presidency.
If so, parents, teachers and students would labor under a burdensome set of testing guidelines and other rules that many say are lowering standards.