Jansing and Co | September 24, 2012
>>> president obama took a swipe at republicans on education at a weekend fund-raiser in milwaukee.
>> millions of students are paying less for college because we took on a system that was wasting billions of dollars and start giving that money to students. now, my opponent, he wants to gut our investments in education to give tax breaks to the wealthy.
>> well, there are disagreements, education analysts also point out that democrats and republicans do share some common ground on key education issues including charter school expansion, teacher performance evaluations and national standards. let me bring in michelle reese, ceo and founder of students first and, of course, am former chancellor of the washington, d.c., public schools . always good to have you on the program. good morning.
>> nice to be here. thanks.
>> let me talk a little bit about the president's education policies because he has pumped billions of dollars of stimulus money into education for charter schools , for student test scores, to evaluate teachers, among other things. has the money been well spent, do you think?
>> oh, absolutely. i think the $4.3 billion that was invested in the race to the top initiative has sparked more legislative change in activity in states across the country than we've ever seen before in this kind of period of time. and i think all of the states now are having important conversations about things like how do we more effectively evaluate our teachers. so i think it has absolutely been money well spent.
>> critics do say the obama approach overemphasizes testing and crowds out arts and other subjects. what do you think about that?
>> i think that's absolutely incorrect. you know, it's very clear that what the administration is saying is that when teachers are evaluated, they should be evaluated through multiple measures, meaning yes, how their students achieve academically should count as one portion of that, but they should also look more holistically at things like observations of classroom practice, what the teachers and kids say about how the teacher is performing, how the school does overall. and so i don't think that it's an overemphasis on one thing or another.
>> we did mention that race to the top has been pretty popular actually with republicans as well. 33 states have now been excused from no child left behind . six others have waivers pending. i know you've heard the concerns of some civil rights groups. they've worried that this is going to sort of take the pressure off of states to help poor children perform as well as their wealthier classmates. is that a concern you have, and how cand?
>> well, it certainly is a concern when you look at waivers that we aren't giving states a pass. one of the good things about no child left behind , and that is a law that certainly needs to be modified, it's not a perfect law, but one of the things it did was to put really strong accountability on all states and all schools to make sure that every single subgroup of children were progressing at an aggressive level. and so one of the things that we have to look for with the waivers is are we still ensuring that states are accountable for ensuring that kids, all kids, meet very, very high expectations?
>> well, speaking of expectations, the minimum is that they graduate high school . and as i was watching some of the education nation stuff yesterday, again this statistic really struck me, more than 3.2 million young people dropped out of high school in 2010 . among 35 countries, the u.s. ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science, 25th in math. obviously, alarming numbers. why are we so far behind ?
>> well, you know, there's no one reason why we are in the situation that we're in as a country. but it is very clear that if we don't improve our public education system quickly, that we're not going to be able to compete in the global marketplace . if we are 25th out of 34 nations in math, then that means that we're not going to be able to produce the engineers, the computer programmers that we need to be able to remain number one. and that is a real concern not just for parents who have school-age children but for business owners and the entire economy.
>> we're going to get some really good information when both presidential candidates address education nation. i'm sure you're looking forward to that. michelle, thank you for being on the program.