Quick comments on what the President had to say about education last night in the SOTU:
On education, we must trust students to learn if given the chance, and empower parents to demand results from our schools. In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams — and a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.
True enough, but I still think this is a solution in search of a problem because he has not driven home the context with the American people.
Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. African American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs.
Now we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, provide extra help for struggling schools.
Members of Congress: The No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And we owe it to America’s children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law.
We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation’s Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America’s inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we’ve expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools.
This is an interesting tact, talk about microtargeting! The idea is an old one, recall the incredible shrinking GI Bill for kids, but linking it to this Catholic school enrollment issue in such an explicit and high profile way is a new tactic, as far as I know. Doesn’t make it a great idea though and I wish they had instead focused on the more pedestrian but promising issue of opening new public schools in underserved communities. That’s because it’s obscene that while pols fall over themselves for some voting blocks, it remains perfectly acceptable to offer poor and minority parents essentially a pro-rata share of what government had given them — and failed them with — as a policy solution. Update: Microtargeting works!