Obama calls on governors to help boost educational standards
By Anne E. Kornblut
Saying his aim is to "secure our rightful place as the preeminent economy of the twenty-first century," President Obama kicked off a critical week in his administration with remarks to the nation's governors touching on education, clean energy and the economy -- just as his administration released a health care proposal that could determine whether the effort succeeds or fails.
Obama focused largely on education in the White House appearance Monday morning, formally rolling out a program to require states to certify that math and reading benchmarks are putting students on a path to college or a career.
But with governors from across the country gathered as Obama launches a last-ditch effort to salvage his health-care agenda, he sought once more to link items from across his agenda. The president said his goal of reestablishing American competitiveness was one reason "why we've taken up the cause of better health care" and a jobs bill.
"I'm not going to rest until we see more progress in each and every one of your states," he said.
The bulk of Obama's remarks to the nation's governors focused on education, which advisers have long described as a favorite subject of his, although it often takes a backseat to his other agenda items. He is working on revising the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, in part by tying $14.5 billion in aid for poor students to states' education standards, with an increasing push to make the national standards more predictable. Obama noted that under NCLB, 11 states had actually lowered their standards in math to comply with requirements that they show progress.
During his trip to Asia last fall, Obama met with several officials who described their students' fierce ambitions and their countries' efforts to match them. On Monday, Obama cited one of those meetings, with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who said his biggest education challenge was "too-demanding" Korean parents.
"They want their kids to learn English in first grade and so I've had to ship in a whole bunch of foreign-speaking teachers to meet the demand," Obama said, recalling the South Korean president's remarks. "That's what we're up against. That's what's at stake -- nothing less than our primacy in the world." He mentioned two statistics showing American educational superiority has already fallen: U.S. 8th graders rank 9th in the world in math, and 11th in the world in science.
"Lifting achievement and transforming our schools will require more than new standards -- it's going to require better teaching, better curricula and better assessments," Obama said.
Web Politics Editor
February 22, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Education
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