Friday, January 23, 2009
Obama / “Our schools fail too many.”
In Obama’s inaugural address, he boldly said, “Our schools fail too many.” Kevin Carey of Education Sector applauds the phrasing. As an Obama supporter, it pains me to say that I don’t like his choice of words. I would have preferred, “Too few students achieve at the highest levels,” or “Our schools and communities must do much more,” or “Our politics limit our commitment to equity and excellence.” Obama’s bold statement vilifies the many highly competent and hard-working teachers and administrators who work in low-achieving schools and run up against the walls of limited funds and the enormity of the challenge. I’m also bothered by the statement’s reinforcement of the mythical idea that if only our schools were better, all the baggage of homelessness, poverty, and race would be overcome. The truth is that the failure of economic policy, health care policy, immigration policy, housing policy, and more make it Herculean for our schools to be complete gap-closers. Ultimately, it’s our politics and priorities that are failing too many.