Grading Obama’s education legacy

An historic presidency came to an end on Friday, as President Barack Obama waved goodbye to his White House staff and climbed aboard Marine One. His two administrations will be remembered for significant achievements in comprehensive healthcare reform, the economy, and the environment.

But for those who follow education policy, the Obama DOE largely receives failing grades. Under a deeply unpopular Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the department spent over billion in school improvement grants, primarily to raise test scores in the nation’s most struggling schools.

“One of the Obama administration’s signature efforts in education, which pumped billions of federal dollars into overhauling the nation’s worst schools, failed to produce meaningful results, according to a federal analysis.

“Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program — the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools — than in schools that did not.”

Instead of allocating the resources to recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers, Duncan chose to invest billion in grants requiring schools to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Instead of investing in community schools, where families living in poverty can receive the support and opportunities they require, Duncan expanded charter schools.
As a result, we now have a president who says public schools are “flush with cash” and nominee for secretary of education who calls them “dead ends.”
“Democrats have in recent years sounded — and acted — a lot like Republicans in advancing corporate education reform, which seeks to operate public schools as if they were businesses, not civic institutions. By embracing many of the tenets of corporate reform — including the notion of ‘school choice’ and the targeting of teachers and their unions as being blind to the needs of children — they helped make DeVos’s education views, once seen as extreme, seem less so.”

Common Core, data mining children, and value-added-models for teacher accountability are all part of President Obama’s education legacy.

I’m sorry, Mr. Obama. But when it comes to education policy, you receive a D. And only because you signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which limits the authority of the secretary of education.

And not a moment too soon.

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