Mike Klein Online

White House Drops a Water Balloon onto No Child Left Behind

Mike Klein

President Barack Obama has dropped a water balloon onto No Child Left Behind.

“In my State of the Union address this year I said Congress should reform No Child Left Behind law based on principles that have guided Race to the Top,” Obama said Friday morning at the White House.  The President stamped his approval onto new education performance guidelines that the administration says were developed by governors and educators nationwide.

“I want to say, the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable,” Obama said during a carefully crafted appearance that allowed for no questions.  “President (George W.) Bush deserves credit for that.  Higher standards are the right goal.  Accountability is the right goal.  Closing the achievement gap is the right goal.  We’ve got to stay focused on those goals.”

But he continued, “Experience has taught us that in its implementation No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping.”  Obama said, “I have urged Congress for a while now; let’s get a bipartisan effort, let’s fix this.  Congress hasn’t been able to do it.  So, I will.  Starting today we’ll be giving states more flexibility to meet high standards.”

The White House released a two-page single spaced description of new guidelines that were developed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan with input from school system leaders nationwide.  One feature is common core standards that 44 states including Georgia will use next year.

(Watch the White House statement by President Obama)

Another feature would grant waivers from the NCLB mandate that 100% of students nationwide achieve reading/language arts and mathematics proficiency by 2014.  Duncan has said 82% of schools nationally could fail to achieve NCLB goals next year, which means they would be labeled “failure schools” regardless of any other academic achievements.

Many educators who include Georgia state Schools Superintendent John Barge agree the 2014 goals are unattainable.  This week Barge and Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson delivered the state’s NCLB waiver request to Duncan during a meeting in Washington D.C.  Isakson and Barge also delivered the state’s proposal that would replace dreaded Annual Yearly Progress reports with a new model to measure performance over multiple years and also using other data.

No Child Left Behind could still be rewritten by Congress but the administration is placing its new bet on an enhanced Race to the Top style model.  “Show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money,” President Obama said Friday.  “We want to provide you more resources but there’s also got to be a commitment on your part to make the changes that are necessary so we can see actual results.”

The President was introduced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam who said, “As a Republican I might not always agree with this administration on some policy issues or maybe even the role of federal government, but when there are some things that we can work together on then we should.  This is one of the issues that we can work together on.”

During opening remarks Obama noted that Duncan who lurked tall behind him is “probably the finest basketball player ever in the Capitol.”  We will allow just a little wiggle room here for his long-time Chicago pal, although the President clearly overlooked former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley whose 1983 election to the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame capped a stunning career.

The lanky Bradley was NCAA Player of the Year at Princeton and a 1964 Olympian before he won two NBA championship rings during ten years with the New York Knicks.  Bradley earned the NBA nickname “Dollar Bill” for his uncanny ability to hit big shots under pressure.  The President can only hope Race to the Top is as successful as Bill Bradley playing basketball.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Air Force One Goes Campaigning in Ohio, And You Paid For It

Barack Obama loves to spend your tax dollars flying around the country to talk about hope and change.  His presidency is the most media savvy in history.  There is no end to how much media and how many images White House strategists can generate of Obama being Obama.

When spending restraint should be foremost, last Friday provided another example of Obama spending  tax dollars to create media images about hope and change. The president flew from Washington to Columbus, Ohio.  It’s not a big trip, about 400 miles which you can fly in less than an hour at presidential flight speed.

The president spent one hour in Columbus before the return flight to Washington where Obama attended a Chicago White Sox baseball game against the Nationals.  Okay, even presidents deserve a baseball game. Continue reading

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Losing Job Leaves Colleague “Feeling Bruised”

This past week two more colleagues joined the half million plus Georgians who are out of work.   They toiled for big companies, Coca-Cola and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who apparently have not heard we are in an economic rebound made possible by the Barack Obama administration.

They entered the ranks of newly laid off professionals the same week the White House admitted the inevitable:  Official unemployment will remain around 10% nationally all year and that is not good news for any politician, Republican, Democrat or Tea Party.   One told me she is “feeling bruised.”

Perhaps they are just a bit fortunate.  Now they can reinvent.  Think about all the poor folks back in the office who sit around all day, fearful someone has painted a target on them.  The best part is they no longer have to get up in the morning and wonder, is this the day they send me home? Continue reading

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Must Control His Message

Atlanta Mike Pix_Press_Club_189_-_Version_2Messaging rules the world.  Everything is about how you present content, the focus you create for the target audience, what you want the audience to remember and what you want it to ignore.  Do messages right and you sell stuff.  Do messages wrong and nobody buys your stuff.

President Barack Obama badly needs to sell stuff but he has world class message problems.  This is fairly stunning. First, let’s give credit where due: Obama created the sharpest, high technology, most sophisticated campaign ever.  Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were good.  Obama was over-the-top exceptional.  He created a new standard that left John McCain flailing. Continue reading

September 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment