Friday, September 4, 2009

President Obama's Address to America's Students: Right Idea, Wrong Message

/PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's scheduled speech to America's school children, Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform (CER), released the following statement:

"Having the President of the United States use the bully pulpit to speak to our schoolchildren isn't new, but it's only a good use of the office if executed with a clear vision. That vision was blurred by overzealous staffers who counseled teachers to use the speech to focus on President Obama himself and not on the nation's education crisis.

"That crisis should be the focus of the president's message. Tell them, Mr. President, that you recognize the obstacles they face in getting a great education, and that you and others from all political ideologies are working on substantive reforms that they can help achieve.

"Tell them our great country lags behind many others when it comes to student achievement, and that not only do they have to work smarter as a result, but they have to demand great schools through their teachers, through their parents and, yes, in whatever community venues they participate.

"We have a generation of kids that are more aware of their world than any in history. They need to hear that there are things we can do to fix schools, from rewarding great teachers, to closing failing schools, making sure standards are high, creating bold, expansive new schools of choice for students, and generally recognizing that no one size fits all students anymore.

"If that is the president's focus, then his staffers can distribute literature about all these reforms to the nation's school staffs, which rarely receive objective information about them from the associations to which they belong and are most comfortable with the status quo. Then and only then will the president have achieved his stated goal of contributing to the improvement of all schools for all children."

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