Saturday, February 17, 2007

Obama on Education

Obama on 60 Minutes

When we're having education debates here in Washington, my positions are informed by having tried to figure out how to fundamentally change the way that we finance public education at the state level. It's informed by work that I've done as a community organizer in inner city classrooms. And so I end up recognizing that we need more money to fix our schools, but we also need a transformation in attitudes.

And in Washington, that's typically framed as a "either/or" proposition. You know, the conservative position is we don't need more money; we just need to blow up the bureaucracy. You know, on the left, sometimes the sense is we just need more money, and we and our problems will be solved. When you have actually been in these schools and worked with these parents and talked to the teachers and sat down in a meeting with principals who are trying to figure out how to hold this thing together, then you realize that it's not an "either/or" proposition.

It's both/and. You know, parents need to do a better job of parenting. Teachers need to do a better job teaching. Some of the anti-intellectualism that exists in the African-American community and Latino communities and low-income communities has to change. And the federal government's got to put more money, because the fact is that they don't have enough resources.

Obama did not complete the discussion on list of logically possible general options: the neither/nor option. Abolish public education let the market deal with it. I'm not offering to advocate it, but given that we're talking about attitudes here, why not be honest and realize that we're hopelessly entrenched in a big-government attitude when it comes to education. And I for one think it's a rotten attitude.

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