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Gingrich, Bloomberg and Sharpton Pay Obama a Visit

By Scott Wilson
It's an eclectic trio, symbolic of the wide-ranging personalities, interests and ideas involved in reforming the country's public education system.

This afternoon New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, and the Rev. Al Sharpton will meet with President Obama to discuss his public education proposals and, to be sure, share some thoughts of their own.

The trio, which likely hasn't agreed on much of anything over the years, belongs to the nonprofit Education Equality Project.

Sharpton, a former U.S. senate candidate, founded the organization with New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, who has said that "school reform is...the civil rights issue of our time."

The group's main focus? Closing the achievement gap among America's public school students, an issue bound up in race, class, money and politics.

White House aides said Sharpton asked for the meeting with Obama, who in announcing his public education reform plans two months ago listed closing the achievement gap as a priority.

The president has said he wants to do so in part by holding public school teachers more accountable for student achievement, something that may pit him against teacher's unions at some point, and allow more charter schools to emerge and experiment.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will also be attending today's meeting. As a result of the stimulus plan that Congress approved in February, Duncan's education department has an additional $100 billion to distribute to public schools, universities and early childhood development programs -- resources that Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has said "come with a bow tied around them that says 'reform.'"

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 7, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Education  
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Educators aren't any more responsible for the large chasm between the achievement of black students and that of white students than physicians are responsible for the AIDS problem.

A level playing field and personal responsibility go miles. We want to explore the achievement gap, but continue to ignore some of the challenges of education (specifically public education). Race and conduct are huge. In addition to the data to support a gap in black/white academic achievement, the data also shows that there is a higher incidence of behavior issues among particular groups of children.

We educators expect that our scholars come to the learning environment with a set of basic skills - appropriate conduct is one. When children feel that it's appropriate to curse their teachers out, yell, scream, and run throughout the corridors, groom themselves, socialize during instruction, leave supplies in their lockers, physically and sexually assault each other, and fail to put any effort into their classes; the problem is much larger than assessment scores.

Classroom educators have taken the blame for the gap for far too long. We mustn't fail to remember that a child's first teacher is her parent. So, birth to five education, parent education, and parental involvement must be a priority.

Posted by: daviscd1 | May 10, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

This meeting surpises me. Great that Bloomberg who ranks among New York's worst mayors ever, is palling around with the President.

New Yorkers are poorer than they were eight years ago... someone has the solution in that state, but certainly its not from his administration. Not even the homeless gets a break from him.

This is the second time Bloomberg is meeting with Obama. Why? He's not doing a good job in New York City. The president should be careful lest he be seen as endorsing this Mayor who never reached out to him during the elections.

Can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all the time. Some, yes, can think for themselves and will not be fooled!

Posted by: Victoria5 | May 9, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant what this guy wrote:

"President Obama should be open to idea/suggestions from anyone but as far as I'm concerned he doesn't need to meet with Gingrich or Sharpton. He doesn't need to extend a hand to every Tom, Dick & Harry."
Posted by: rlj611 | May 7, 2009 1:25 PM

Until election times, that is.

Posted by: sapitos44 | May 8, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

This guy wrote this:

President Obama should be open to idea/suggestions from anyone but as far as I'm concerned he doesn't need to meet with Gingrich or Sharpton. He doesn't need to extend a hand to every Tom, Dick & Harry.

Posted by: rlj611 | May 7, 2009 1:25 PM

Until election time, that is.

Posted by: sapitos44 | May 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Three useless gasbags.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | May 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Buzzm1 wrote in part:

"It's time to draw the line."

I agree that it is time to draw a line on your face and inscribe thereon: This wingbag is an Obama Hater. There is nothing Obama can and will do that will please him.

Posted by: erickaba | May 7, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

So he can meet with Arne Duncan and Mayor Bloomberg, but Newt and that mouthpiece Sharpton can wait in the lobby!!

Posted by: JimiP1 | May 7, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that education is 50%, or so, of every state's budget.

So, we are talking about a lot of money, that falls on the back of taxpayers.

Note: 40% of workers, basically those earning under $37,000, or so, pay no withholding taxes, or income tax. They have a free ride.

Then there are the rest of us.

Posted by: buzzm1 | May 7, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama. has an inherent need to spend.

Obama wants to raise up, the poorest, and most unfortunate, among us.

With his focus on the wealthy as a source of needed government income, I think we have every right to worry, as with Obama's rampant spending, it won't be long, until, you, and I, are also targeted as a source for needed additional government income.

and Obama wants to include 40 million, or so, illegals, to the poorest, and most unfortunate, among us.

it's bad enough taking care of our own poor, without considering adding 40 million more, from other countries.

It's time to draw the line.

Posted by: buzzm1 | May 7, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should be open to idea/suggestions from anyone but as far as I'm concerned he doesn't need to meet with Gingrich or Sharpton. He doesn't need to extend a hand to every Tom, Dick & Harry.

Posted by: rlj611 | May 7, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

This should be an interesting meeting. President Obama has now capitulated to the Repulbican party and says he wants to spend additional millions on the DC voucher program which has shown no real appreciatable gains for students.

Bloomberg is about to get his head handed to him by the NY State legislature which will take away some of his control over the NYC schools.

I don't quite know what Sharpton or Gingrich will bring to the discussion.

Arne Duncan did a great job in Chicago and did it with the unions approval becuase he understood how to work with all parties to achieve reform, something DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee should learn from him.

Again I say this would be an interesting meeting to be at.

Posted by: peterdc | May 7, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

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