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Obama's Education Plan to Reform Schools & Reward Teachers


Obama's Education Plan to Reform Schools & Reward Teachers

Photo taken on Nov 20, 2007: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In late November 2007, Sen. Barack Obama presented a thoughtful three-part, fully-detailed plan to reform U.S. public schools, reward and support teachers, and correct the excesses/errors of the No Child Left Behind Act.

(See Pros & Cons of the No Child Left Behnd Act).

This article includes a brief summary of Sen. Obama's plan, the text of his interesting remarks, and a link to his complete plan.

In summary, Barack Obama's Plan for Lifetime Success Through Educationwill:

  • Reform No Child Left Behind.
  • Ensure access to high-quality early childhood education programs and child care opportunities so children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
  • Work to place effective teachers in every classroom in America, especially those in high-poverty, high-minority areas.
  • Reward effective teachers for taking on challenging assignments and helping children succeed.
  • Support highly-effective principals and school leaders.
  • Make science and math education a national priority.
  • Reduce the high school dropout rate by focusing on proven methods to improve student achievement and enhance graduation and higher education opportunities.
  • Close the achievement gap and invest in what works.
  • Empower parents to raise healthy and successful children by taking a greater role in their child’s education at home and at school.
Full Text of Remarks by Sen. Barack Obama
November 20, 2007 in Manchester, New Hampshire

I've visited many schools and spoken to many teachers and students throughout my two decades of public service, but one I'll always remember is my visit to Dodge Elementary School in Chicago just a few years ago.

Blaming Kids for Failures of Education System
I was talking with a young teacher there, and I asked her what she saw as the biggest challenge facing her students. She gave me an answer that I had never heard before.

She spoke about what she called "These Kids Syndrome" - the tendency to explain away the shortcomings and failures of our education system by saying that "these kids can't learn" or "these kids don't want to learn" or "these kids are just too far behind." And after awhile, "these kids" become somebody else's problem.

And this teacher looked at me and said, "When I hear that term it drives me nuts. They're not 'these kids.' They're our kids. All of them."

She's absolutely right. The small child in Manchester or Nashua whose parents can't find or afford a quality pre-school that we know would make him more likely to stay in school, and read better, and succeed later in life - he is our child.

The little girl in rural South Carolina or the South Side of Chicago whose school is literally falling down around her, and can't afford new textbooks, and can't attract new teachers because it can't afford to pay them a decent salary - she is our child.

The teenager in suburban Boston who needs more skills and better schooling to compete for the same jobs as the teenager in Bangalore or Beijing - he is our child.

Education a Necessity in the Information Age.
These children are our children. Their future is our future. And it's time we understood that their education is our responsibility. All of us.

This is a defining moment for our generation. Revolutions in communications and technology have created a global economy of high-tech, high-wage jobs that can be located anywhere there's an internet connection - an economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge.

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