February 22nd, 2010
12:34 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama pushes governors to improve nation's schools

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama urged the nation's governors Monday to improve public education by offering states financial incentives to do so.

"This year, as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we'll ask all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college- and career-ready in reading and math," Obama said. Title I refers to the programs set up by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute funds to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families.

"Once you've got those standards in place, you will be better able to better compete for funds to improve teaching and upgrade curriculums," he said in an address at the White House.

School districts that begin preparing educators to teach to higher standards will then compete for $4 billion in a program he calls Race to the Top.

Schools that embrace reforms, raise achievement and respond to student needs will be helped, he promised.

U.S. schools rank ninth in the world in math and 11th in science, Obama said. He lauded Massachusetts educators for having "upped their game" so that the state's students now tie for first in the world in science.

But, he said, "some states have actually done the opposite." Between 2005 and 2007, under the No Child Left Behind program, 11 states lowered their standards, he said. "That may make those states look better relative to other states, but it's not going to help our students keep up with their global competitors," he said.

Obama urged that politics not be allowed to get in the way of improving education. "We're tired of arguments between the left and the right, between reformers and teachers unions," he said. "We want to figure out what works and we want to make sure we're giving you the resources you need to implement what works."

Obama listed government efforts intended to put college education within the reach of working Americans - increasing Pell grants, continuing a $2,500 tax credit for four years of college tuition; beefing up education benefits provided to veterans under the GI Bill; and working to ease students' debt burdens by reforming the student loan program.

"If we can come together and do all this in Washington and statehouses and across party and ideology, we're going to raise the quality of American education," he said.


Filed under: Education • President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Mark in Manhattan

    Actually, to quote him correctly, it should be:

    "This year, as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we'll ax [sic] all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college- and career-ready in reading and math,"

    Check the audio tape it you doubt it.

    February 22, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. SocialismBad

    The ONLY way to reform the school systems is to FIRE EVERYONE and eliminate the Unions. Rehire the competent teachers and rebuild the system from the ground up. Throwing more and more money at the problem has only lead to dumber and dumber kids.

    And enough with the ridiculous classes for basket weaving and other BS. Get back to the basics.

    February 22, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama say they "will be helped, he promised."

    Is this going to be one of the broken promises or the few kept promises?

    February 22, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. didoro

    Yeah, Massachusetts- and such hopelessly "progressive" state!

    February 22, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. slipthalo

    I wonder how Mitch Daniels took this message as the State of Indiana has sent directives to each school district in the state to cut costs by large amounts? Districts are having to consider layoffs in order to cut their costs as they had already cut a lot out of their budgets and our legislatures say they can't enact a reading bill for 3rd graders due to the expense involved. Will be interesting to get his response to it.

    February 22, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Oseki Otens Evans

    Well done Mr. president. As an educator yourself, you surely know what`s to be mended. Thanks for your hard work! Just don`t let republicans know you wish the schools well!

    February 22, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    why do we need an education anyway..............

    this administration will have tax breaks, handouts, and incentives for worthless people not to work by the end of his first term........

    They will erect statues of this guy shortly after he is finnly out of office and applaud his great accomplisment of keeping his campaign promise of spreading the wealth around...........

    the only problem is that he has contributed to squandering the wealth away and it will all be an elusion, a joke, a gimmic, and his head will be carved out of a mountain in africa right next to his buddy, Jimmy carter............

    its going to be a long, long 7 more years america

    and just think how long it will take to fix this mess

    blame bush all you want, this smegro is getting his revenge for slavery

    February 22, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Capt. Snarky

    This year, as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we'll ask all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college- and career-ready in reading and math," Obama said

    --------------------------------

    So..... why in the hell aren't they already? Every kid that graduates from high school should be college- or career- ready. If not, the teachers should be held accountable, because they aren't doing their jobs.....

    February 22, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I don't think is about reforming, I think we could all agree that school are highly educated than ever before, is about the drop out rate, college degrees, etc. Did you know that men are declining in earning a college degree? The ladies are taking over in that aspect and there's many theories why that decline is occuring. I blame it on Bill Gates, that's who I blame.

    But I would agrue getting an education is highly likely now than before, there's no excuse. And with getting a degree online, is much more flexible and resilient than ever before. Our grandparents would have probably killed for learning and getting an education online. And is cheap, of course hands on and first hand is way better but the point is there's no excuse.

    We all wanna have the best education, the best there is but that don't mean we all have to go to Harvard or Yale, it don't. Is about getting the resources that meets your expectations and dreams, not solutions or achievements. Than ever before, we do have the best resources, it is about who you know but more importantly, how much you know.

    February 22, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    " Throwing more and more money at the problem has only lead to dumber and dumber kids."

    Right, and throwing out all the teachers in order to disassemble the Unions, which are Contitutionally protected peaceful assemblies of persons, then hiring back only the ones who are amenable to being puppets and trying to hire others to fill in the gaps...meanwhile all classes and education of our children is stopped/stalled....that's not expensive nonsense at all. In fact, that's super free just because you said so. It wouldn't result in extremely expensive protracted litigation or massive bureaucratic expenses during the hiring process. And lord knows it's completely free to shut down the nation's entire school system so you can purge it of any teachers' unions. Magically, all contracts would suddenly become void and you could stop paying all teachers and refuse to give them their pensions...and all those kids don't have to go anywhere or do anything while you're conducting your purge...it will not cost us one dime because they'll be sitting at home playing video games. No parents would need to stay home either and no work hours or productivity would be lost. Who needs babysitters when you have a PS3?

    February 22, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. T'SAH from Virginia

    Thank you President Obama for making EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE and JOBS your main issues... Yes We Can!!

    February 22, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. sensible Cape Coral FL

    There is no such thing as spending too much money on education. We have serious global competitors and the time for complacency has long passed.

    February 22, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Tom in Va

    Good luck with that in VA.

    After promising NOT to...the first thing newly-elected GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell did was signal his approval to slash public school education.

    How's that for a "pro-life" governor?

    February 22, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. jeff

    The problem is that we pay atheletes more than people we are trusting our future with,elimate the unions,What does that have to do with it??Take the money we waste on "pro" sports and put it into the schools!!

    February 22, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Those teachers who aren't making the grade, are being fired as they should and principals of these schools are being graded also. This is a very serious matter and it's past time for accountability.

    February 22, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. weequahic68

    To mark in manhattan
    Actually, to quote him correctly, it should be:

    "This year, as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we'll ax [sic] all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college- and career-ready in reading and math,"

    Check the audio tape it you doubt it.

    How Racist can you be............

    February 22, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. If it walks like a duck.....

    MIKE IN MANHATTAN: While you are taking the time to criticize others, take the time to check your own spelling!!
    "Check the audio tape it you doubt it."

    February 22, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. If it walks like a duck.....

    Mike...Mark....whatever.

    February 22, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Ferret out the BS

    There are so many components that make up a successful educational system and this may be a good start. Unfunded federal mandates, loss of revenue, population growth, lack of parental interest and discipline have not contributed to improving education and will take a considerable time to overcome. We should consider education as an investment in our future and work to support that concept whether its financial or introducing new ideas and programs. Improving education is an evolving process that needs to build on what we have already and should not be stuck on one idea or believe that tearing everything apart and starting over is a good plan.

    February 22, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Peggy Tx

    "[A]s a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we'll ask all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college- and career-ready in reading and math,"

    Darn sounded so good, but it comes with "strings", So I am sure that Our Gov. Perry will not accept the Federal Insentives for Texas. He just can't do something like improve standard in schools in Texas. No, that would just make Perry look weak, look like a solcialist!!!! -would'nt it.

    February 22, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Bob in Pa

    My son is currently a math major. His biggest problem in learning it has been the high number of foreign professors teaching it. He has told me that having foreign professors that cannot properly pronounce words or explain a process in proper English makes it twice as hard to understand the concepts.

    February 22, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Padraig

    SocialismBad, Amen and you are 100% correct. How and what is being taught to our children is horrendous. Even some of the teachers don't understand or believe it is pointless.

    Get rid of the bad teachers and bring in teachers that can teach our youth to be productive within the community. Start paying the good teachers what they deserve.

    Grade the teachers and their and their students performance.

    Teach the basics and don't pass the student unless they deserve it.

    February 22, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Terry from West Texas

    Thomas Jefferson said that the purpose of education was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Most parents prefer a child who is as dumb as they are. A case in point:

    SocialismBad wrote, "The ONLY way to reform the school systems is to FIRE EVERYONE and eliminate the Unions. Rehire the competent teachers and rebuild the system from the ground up. Throwing more and more money at the problem has only lead to dumber and dumber kids. And enough with the ridiculous classes for basket weaving and other BS. Get back to the basics."

    As usual, the blowhard approach is fire someone or some people, hire someone who is "competent" and everything falls into place. The only thing he knows about education for sure is that we should spend less money on it. So, here's his plan:

    1. Reduce the education budget.
    2. Fire all public school employees.
    3. Rehire the "competent" teachers. How he will figure this out he doesn't share with us. Magical powers no doubt.
    4. Spend several years trying to reestablish teaching plans, lesson plans, goals, composing tests, etc. During this time we will raise a generation of uneducated American kids. But, hey, stuff happens.
    5. And he would do away with "basket weaving" which is a cliche for frivilous courses. I don't know what he has in mind to eliminate: foreign languages, computer skills, art, home economics, music, local history. In college, History of Rock was always an easy A fluff course? I would think that competitive athletics would be considered frivolous, but I'm not sure that SocialismBad would agree.

    Now in his mind, he has given us a simple common-sense plan that should appeal to everyone. I have a Master's degree in education, though I have never taught. I have always earned my living as a computer programmer who designs information systems for colleges and universities. I would have no idea how to even begin implementing this plan. First, I guess I'd have to define competent – something that SocialismBad forgot to do for us.

    February 22, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. James

    Now if we can REMOVE from office all the corrupt Governors and Senators.

    2010 Viva La Revolution

    February 22, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Steve (the real one)

    While the President is pushing governors, who is giving the union a kick in the pants?

    February 22, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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