Tall hat and lots of prattle

President Wunderkind

by nkronos on March 28, 2011

Is there anything this dilettante isn’t an expert on?

“Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation’s education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that “everybody agrees makes sense” and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.

Obama educational plan:

  1. Get together a committee to agree on perfect test.
  2. ?
  3. Schools fixed.

I suspect this will work sort of just as well as that deficit-reduction committee worked. While we’re coming up with this consensus test, let’s also just find some budget cuts we can all agree on. Snap!

Of course the subtext here is a paean to the teachers unions, who hate all the accountability of standardized testing. Let’s quit measuring so “rigidly” and let’s not make it so “pressure-packed”; in other words, if a school system fails to make the grade, it shouldn’t actually suffer any consequences. In fact, that’s exactly what President 0 wants:

a standardized test that didn’t require advance preparation but was just used as a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, and areas where [students] could use more emphasis from teachers

Because students aren’t going to meet “unrealistic” standards, let’s chuck those standards. Can industry do the same thing with carbon emission standards and fleet-efficiency standards, I wonder?

It’s not surprising either that Obama favors evaluating schools based on attendance rate; he earned the nickname “State Senator Present” for a reason. Having one’s butt at a desk all day ought to count for something, dammit. Isn’t that how bureaucracy works, after all?  Given the kid gloves with which the man has been treated throughout his life, he is a firm believer in the maxim that showing up is half the ballgame–or in his case, almost all the ballgame. Hence his continuing belief that the sheer force of his personal charisma will win the day, despite the continuing failures of this approach as President.

Testing, accountability, governing–they’re all boring. What’s exciting is standing up at the front of the room and delivering a teleprompter-aided speech to applauding men and fainting women whilst the dull folk like Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton worry about the details of implementation. Hey, it worked all the way to the presidency, so who am I to try to tell school kids there’s anything wrong with the approach?

All work and no play make Barack a dull boy.

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