Should Obama be commencement contest prize?
Just like he did last year, President Obama is holding a contest for public high schools with himself as the prize. Obama will deliver the commencement address at the winning school.
The contest is officially called “Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge,” and competing schools are invited to demonstrate how their school best prepares students for college and a career.
The effort is a way for the administration to highlight Obama’s campaign for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
The application includes essay questions -- for example, “Why should your school win? Discuss what makes your school unique” -- and statistical information, and must be submitted by Friday, February 25th at 11:59 pm EST.
So what’s the problem? Aside from the fact that Obama seems to have turned too much in education into some kind of contest, I suspect this is ultimately more about the adults in the school building rather than the kids. I can picture administrators already scheduling meetings about this.
Here’s one of the winning essays from the 2010 winner, Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan:
“Kalamazoo Central is a diverse, dynamic and dedicated community of students and staff committed to our district’s mission: Every Child, Every Opportunity, Every Time. We challenge ourselves to take more AP classes (an increase of 221% in 4 years); we involve ourselves in our community through activism such as PeaceJam; and we take classes such as aviation technology and construction trades that prepare us for careers and college. Our relationships with teachers and staff empower us all to form a united bond and a belief in our end goal: changing the world through education. Since 2006, 91% of all Kalamazoo Central graduates have attended college, affirming a college going culture in a vibrant community of 1700. The Kalamazoo Promise—free college tuition for all—gives us the opportunity to achieve our college dreams. Our superintendent phrased it best:
‘If you’re looking for a community where going to college is a birthright, then Kalamazoo Public Schools isn’t it; but, if you’re looking for a community trying to send a whole host of students to college, then Kalamazoo Central is a model of that success.’
"We no longer merely hope for a future; we are confident that we are the future.”
I’d be surprised if students wrote that on their own.
Last year, the winner was selected out of more than 1,000 applications which were narrowed to six finalists by the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Education. The public then rated the online applications of the six, and Obama himself chose the winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.
Meanwhile, commencement speakers at some colleges and universities have already been announced, including:
* Emory University: Janet Napolitano, U.S. secretary of homeland security.
* Franklin & Marshall College: Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).
* Northwestern University: Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report."
* Stanford University: Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, president of Mexico.
* University of Vermont: Billie Jean King, the tennis player and women’s sports advocate.
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| February 2, 2011; 4:00 AM ET
Categories: High School, Race to the Top | Tags: commencement contest, commencement speaker, commencement speech, obama commencement, obama commencement speaker, president obama and commencement, race to the top contest, stephen colbert
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