Friday, September 12, 2008

Providing a World-Class Education 'A Moral Obligation,' Obama Tells Crowd

More coverage from EdWeek of the DFER event in Denver:

Even before the four-day convention formally opened on Aug. 25, an emerging coalition of mostly urban Democrats started asserting itself on educational issues, offering alternatives to the policies promoted in particular by the teachers' unions.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have long given the bulk of their political support to Democratic candidates, and members of the unions were well represented among the roughly 4,000 delegates to the national convention.

At an Aug. 24 event organized by Democrats for Education Reform, a New York City-based political action committee, urban mayors and civil rights activists argued for teacher pay-for-performance and the expansion of charter schools.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J., said at a press conference before the three-hour seminar that the debate over those issues is a "battle at the heart of the Democratic Party. … As Democrats, we have been wrong on education. It's time to get it right."

At the same press conference, Michelle A. Rhee, the chancellor of the 49,400-student District of Columbia school system, added: "The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party that looks out for poor and minority kids. That is not what's happening." ("Rhee Builds Case to Fix D.C. Schools," September 3, 2008.)

During the seminar, Ms. Rhee, a Democrat, and several other panelists asserted that the teachers' unions are putting the interests of their members concerning salaries and working conditions over the educational needs of students.

The event didn't sit well with union leaders.


Providing a World-Class Education 'A Moral Obligation,' Obama Tells Crowd


Barack Obama's promise to "meet our moral obligation to provide a world-class education" sets an ambitious goal that members of the Democratic Party can't agree how to reach.

"America, we cannot turn back," the Illinois senator said near the conclusion of his Aug. 28 speech at Invesco Field, a football stadium packed with more than 70,000 people waving flags and raising signs saying "Change." "Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate."

In his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Obama mentioned the broad points of his platform to address the educational needs from preschoolers to college students.


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