President Obama gives a great education speech, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. And it’s not just words. He’s “standing up to the teachers’ unions and the other groups that have undermined nearly every other reform effort.”
Obama’s team failed to defend D.C.’s successful voucher program from congressional Democrats, Brooks concedes. (There’s so much pressure that vouchers may survive, after all.) But, over all, “the news is good.”
Over the past few days I’ve spoken to people ranging from Bill Gates to Jeb Bush and various education reformers. They are all impressed by how gritty and effective the Obama administration has been in holding the line and inciting real education reform.
Over the summer, the Department of Education indicated that most states would not qualify for Race to the Top money. Now states across the country are changing their laws: California, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Tennessee, among others.
States are raising their caps on charter schools and moving to link teacher pay and retention to student performance.
The American Federation of Teachers recently announced innovation grants for performance pay ideas. The New Haven school district has just completed a new teacher contract, with union support, that includes many of the best reform ideas.
Education reform has many enemies, Brooks writes. But, so far, Obama hasn’t wavered.