President Obama will be meeting with Reverand Al Sharpton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Speaker Newt Gingrich tomorrow to discuss education reform.
To that I have this to say: FINALLY.
There is little to like in any one member of this team. Sharpton is too loud-spoken to get anything done and usually ends up causing more problems than he fixes. Bloomberg seems to be something of a power monger. And Gingrich is, well...a negative nancy.
But together, they may hold the key to fixing our education system. Here are the problems that we face, as I see them:
- How do we adequately and accurately fund for national education standards
- How do we fix inner city schooling?
- How can we create a culture in which teaching is not looked down upon so we can encourage a new generation of bright, enthusiastic teachrs?
- How do we fix teacher tenure?
Each of these men brings a distinct view. Sharpton can, for his part, adequately portray to the president the complexities facing the poor in our cities today. True, Obama was a community organizer so he knows something of it but that was decades ago. He needs someone who is still on the streets now telling him how we can fight back against drugs and gangs.
Bloomberg is one of the few people who has had any success reforming city schools in the country. It's been mild and it's been varied, but he's come up with results oriented plans that have worked (Unlike those high stakes testing in No Child Left Behind). From his website:
Mike turned around a public school system that failed a generation of schoolchildren by stressing accountability and focusing on results. Since Mike took control of the public school system, there has been an 11.2 percentage point increase in the four-year high school graduation rate in New York City. Test scores are on the rise, with the percentage of fourth-graders passing state reading exams up by nearly 15 percentage points and state math exams by nearly 28 percentage points. Our children’s classrooms are safer – school crime is down 34% since 2001. Mike’s school reforms have become a model to education reformers across the nation.
He does have something of a record in fixing schools.
And Gingrich, well, Gingrich may be the link in this. We need national education standards as soon as possible. There is no reason why almost 90% of Connecticut residents should complete high school while less than 80% of Texans do. But many Republicans feel that national educational standards put too much power in the federal government. How can the federal government possibly respond to change like local school boards can? Well, maybe, for once, Newt Gingrich will be a voice of moderation.
We'll see. I'll be anxious to see the outcome tomorrow. The three should be addressing the press sometime between 1-1:30 PM!
Note: This post is published concurrently on my blog, CT-6.