"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 20, 2009

Right Wing Sludge Tanks Gush Over Obama's "No Excuses" Philosophy

The education reform antiquarians are pumped over the fact that our first African-American President is more like Bill Cosby than Martin Luther King, more Booker T. Washington than W. E. B. Dubois.
If Obama's image makers think that this is going to impress anyone who voted for him, he needs some new image makers. If this is what Obama really thinks, then it is clear that he has joined those who have chosen to use their "no excuses" tough talk as the ultimate excuse to ignore poverty for another generation, while poor children are sacrificed to the bare-knuckled pedagogy of the anti-culturalist chain gangs. From Petrilli at Fordham Institute, which begins with a quote from the Great Accommodationist:
Obama: . . . .We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades — (applause) — that’s not a reason to cut class — (applause) — that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. (Applause.) No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands — you cannot forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. (Applause.) No excuses.

You get that education, all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can. (Applause.)
Petrilli: Of course, not everyone is happy with this line of argument. The socialists, for example, detest it. More reason to sing its praises!

It’s true that there wasn’t any policy substance in the speech that was particularly new or different. But we policy wonks tend to overrate policy substance anyway. Here’s an African-American president, speaking to the NAACP, and arguing for reform in our schools and responsibility in our homes and community. This is worth celebrating.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:05 PM

    Hi Jim,
    I love your blog. This is my first time commenting.
    I don't think there's any per se wrong with Obama's speech. What he's telling black people is simply the reality. Where I'm disappointed is to follow up with the other side of the equation by proposing any real reform: namely, getting the mustardheads out of the ed business. Far from it, he actually appointed one for his Ed Sec. I still feel in my gut that Obama is a smart guy and that if only the right people could get to him and make the case to him, he would get it. I'm just afraid he doesn't know all that much about education and he's listening to the wrong crowd.