Earlier today, Eduflack examined the educational highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union address. The Cliff Notes version — strong on effective teachers, keep every kid in high school until age 18, college is expensive. But what is equally interesting is what was NOT included in the SOTU, particularly as a lead-up to the presidential campaign.
What was missing?
Race to the Top — No mention whatsoever of the crown jewel of the Obama education reform platform. No talk about the progress states like Delaware and others are making. No discussion of the new world order likely coming out of the first few rounds of RttT. (But there was that veiled reference to RttT driving states to adopt the Common Core, but only the insideriest of insiders will have caught the “for less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards …”)
Early childhood education — Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the Obama administration just awarded to the winning states in the RttT Early Learning edition, there was no mention of ECE or the importance of ensuring all kids are ready to learn when the hit kindergarten.
Principals — In the President’s focus on effective teachers, he seemed to forget that a great principal is just as important — if not more so — in improving student learning and turning a school around. Using “educators” is the common catch-all phrase, but Obama decided to focus just on teachers.
ESEA — No call to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. No sense of urgency to act, as we have heard in previous years. Have we officially determined this is a 2013 activity now?
Parental engagement — In one of his earlier SOTUs, Obama got all Bill Cosby on us and called for greater parental involvement in the K-12 process. This year, nothing. If we are serious about real reform, it can’t all be on the backs of the teachers Obama singled out. It requires involved and committed parents, clergy, business leaders, and community voices too.
Choice — Embracing the entire public school infrastructure — traditional publics, public charters, magnets, and technicals — used to be a part of the President’s educational stump speech. But when talking about the need for all kids to finish high school, there was no mention of ensuring all of those kids actually have access to good high schools.
Competitive Grants — Similar to the failure to mention RttT, we saw no mention of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, no discussion of the impacts of recent educational budget “consolidations,” and no teaser on ARPA ED. Are competitive grants moving to the back burner?
What else are we missing? Anyone? Anyone?