From President Obama’s State of the Union address last night:
Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.
And commentary from Andrew Rotherham in today’s New York Times:
Even more interesting were two subtleties buried in the education passages. The president didn’t explicitly talk about national standards but clearly alluded to them while praising Race to the Top’s accomplishments. That’s an interesting choice (he could have praised changes in charter school laws or improved teacher evaluation for example) in front of an audience with many more local-control advocates than when he last addressed the chamber.
But he wasn’t just poking to the right. The president singled-out a Denver school that was turned around only after its teachers took on their own union to get out from under the standard collective bargaining agreement. Needless to say that’s a strategy the two national teachers’ unions don’t want to see replicated around the country. I wrote about that episode on The Times’s Op-Ed page a few years ago. Michael Bennet, now a senator from Colorado, was the superintendent in Denver at the time and the move was controversial then and the idea remains contentious today. Of all the schools the president could have chosen to highlight, it’s a fascinating choice.