Obama Speaks on Education: Will the Actions Match the Words?

President Obama marked his 50th day in office Tuesday with his first major address on education. To the surprise of some, and the relief of many who fall in the reform camp, Obama offered the following:

  • Support for performance pay: "too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroon."
  • Removing underperforming educators: "if a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching. I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences."
  • Strong support for charter schools (urging states to remove charter caps) and calling for longer school days and school years.

Not all the words were welcome. There was no real mention of standards and there were hints at additional programs and spending, not necessarily solutions.

The real question: What’s next? How will the education community react? Will this generate momentum or cause reform opponents to dig in deeper?

The Fordham Institute offers some quick analysis. The Chamber’s current BizVoice magazine provides a look at K-12 education closer to home with an interview with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and a roundtable discussion on the key topics of the day.