Education Reform Debate

 President Barack Obama’s proposal for education reform has been receiving strict opposition from many education administrators, according to an article in The New York Times.

      Recently, teachers unions and educators are leading the debate against lawmakers over Obama’s “Race to the Top” education reform plan. Some state officials in California privately told The New York Times that Obama’s proposed plan has a 50-50 chance (at best) of gaining the necessary approval to pass. The plan also needs $700 million from Washington.

      Obama’s Race to the Top plan features a massive overhaul of America’s public school system. The plan sets to eliminate teacher tenure, expand charter schools and link teachers’ salaries directly to student performance.

      Teachers unions are strongly opposed to this new plan because they believe it is a direct attack on teachers. The California Teachers Association is a major player in the opposition to Obama’s education reform plan. It is very influential in the area because it regularly donates money to select politicians’ election campaigns.

      The California Teachers’ Association recently donated $7,800 to each Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Senator Leland Yee, which is the maximum donation, according to The New York Times. Both are San Francisco representatives. Ammiano recently wrote bill that was passed by the California Assembly that limits the number of state-sanctioned charter schools at its current 1,450 schools, which is a direct opposition to Obama’s plan to expand charter schools.


      Carlos Garcia, the San Francisco superintendent and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are also opposed to this bill. However, neither can deny that California and San Francisco need the money that bill could offer them.

      The San Francisco Unified School District is currently facing a $113 million deficit. The Race to the Top plan would bring $20 million to the San Francisco school district.  

      Garcia said that the plan is a strong-armed approach to education reform that is very similar to the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind policy. “We’re tired of all that stuff,” Garcia told The New York Times. “Even if we get the money, I’m not sure if we can implement all of that (the plan’s proposed policies).”

      Garcia said that San Francisco’s schools badly need the money, but he strongly opposes the bill. This is the type of dilemma that school officials and superintendents are facing throughout the nation. Many believe that this dilemma could be widespread enough to boost enough approval to pass the bill.

      Educators and students can only hope that the politics of money do not pollute policy makers’ decisions on Obama’s Race to the Top. Most believe that the plan’s policies alone will not be enough to pass the bill. However, politics and money could sway opinions on the bill, which would reform America’s public education system.