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the program still gets funding today.  Disappointment and Affirmation We reached out to Obama's two

Time:2019-06-23 17:51Shoes websites Click:

accounta school improvement grants i3 waivers No Child Left Behind

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Just how much can you take away from one former president's tweet about education? 

It's a fair question to ask after President Barack Obama recently promoted, with enthusiasm, a story in the Atlantic from a philanthropist, Nick Hanauer, who lamented his focus on improving schools as a sure-fire and sweeping solution to some of the nation's most intractable problems:

This is worth a read: a thought-provoking reminder that education reform isn't a cure-all. As a supporter of education reform, I agree that fixing educational inequality requires doing more to address the broader, systemic sources of economic inequality. https://t.co/96B7fkBM4u

Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 18, 2019

"Even the most thoughtful and well-intentioned school-reform program can't improve educational outcomes if it ignores the single greatest driver of student achievement: household income," Hanauer wrote in the Atlantic's July issue.

Obama's social media message on Tuesday inspired a variety of responses, with some accusing him of ignoring teachers and carrying water for Republican policy while in office, instead of addressing broader inequities that impact schools.

You know, those if us actually working in education tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to tell you. "Don't make excuses," you guys said. "Just expect more," you guys said.

— Peter Greene (@palan57) June 18, 2019

Here's the bottom line: Obama's education record is often remembered as a series of competitive grants and other measures tightly focused on transforming how education was delivered and how both educators and schools were evaluated and held accountable. Those signature policy initiatives proved highly controversial and grabbed many headlines. Yet other efforts his administration undertook tried to address factors beyond schools that many believe contribute to economic inquality and lack of opportunities. And those initiatives have a mixed track record. 

Obama's message also landed at a time when many Democrats, including those seeking the White House, have declined to carry the banner for several of the 44th president's big education initiatives on school and teacher accountability and improving educational systems. Much of his agenda's political support crumbled during his time in office, and at one point the National Education Association, typically a staunch Democratic ally, called on Obama's first education secretary Arne Duncan to resign. But that doesn't mean every Obama measure on K-12 would be doomed to the dustbin under the next Democratic president; keep your eye on civil rights policy.

One important thing to say about Obama's tweet is what it doesn't do. Obama did not disown or minimize all or any part of his education record. He still called himself a backer of "education reform," even though that term makes some people cringe. However, Obama's tweet might clear the way for Democrats to take a very different approach in 2021 if one of them wins the White House.

So how can we characterize, and categorize, Obama's education record? And how does his Twitter message look in the political context of 2019? Let's sort some notable pieces of Obama's record into two basic buckets. 

Competitive Grants, Waivers, and the Stimulus

The Obama administration's use of competitive grants to push relatively technocratic, systems-based changes to improvement and accountability fell outside the traditional formula-funded Beltway programs school leaders were used to.

Wonder why some liberals and progressives fond of Washington's involvement in policy speak with suspicion about proactive K-12 intervention from Uncle Sam? Those kind of approaches—particularly Race to the Top and how it was implemented and talked about—are part of your answer.

However, remember that all three grants got their start in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus. The Obama team's fingerprints were all over it. The single biggest chunk of the $115 billion earmarked for education was explicitly designed to save thousands of teachers' jobs at the tail end of the Great Recession, as well as prevent public schools from closing. Any Democratic president might have supported and signed a similar package in 2009. But it's worth considering the practical impact of the stimulus alongside ambitious plans from 2020 candidates to raise teacher pay and triple the federal money earmarked for disadvantaged students, among other things. Those grand visions, by the way, have price tags that also run into the tens of billions of dollars. 

One more thing: With efforts to revamp No Child Left Behind Act stalled in Congress, Obama's team also used the regulatory waiver process to push its priorities like agressive school turnarounds and changes to teacher evalutions. This led to more concerns about the extent to which the administration sought to impose its will, instead of trusting education officials and ultimately educators. 

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