Recently, Arne Duncan, the Department of Education Secretary, said that under the current NCLB law, almost 80% of our schools would be labeled failing.
From the AP via the Times today, here's what President Obama said:
"That's an astonishing number," he said. "We know that four out of five schools in this country aren't failing. So what we're doing to measure success and failure is out of line."
Cue the chorus of angels. Really, Mr. President?
But he said improvements are needed in measuring student progress and labeling schools that fall short. He called for measuring creativity and critical thinking along with math and reading skills, and for rewarding good teachers while showing little leniency for bad ones.
And, of course, what about the majority in the middle? Because there are not just "good" or "bad" teachers.
Obama's call for a rewrite of the education law appears unlikely, at least by his September deadline. The House education committee's Republican chairman acknowledged the need for improvement but called the president's time line "arbitrary."
Obama has met several times this year with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers leading efforts to rewrite the law. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that an update is needed; they disagree on the federal government's role in education and on what's the best way to turn around schools with a history of poor performance.
The President's last word and the public's?
"We cannot cut education. We can't cut the things that will make America more competitive," Obama said.
Education is one of Obama's better issues, according to recent AP-GfK polling that found nearly two-thirds of the public, or 64 percent, approve of his handling of the issue.
A majority of the public also views the education law unfavorably. An AP-Stanford poll last fall found that two-thirds of the public either thought the law has had "no real impact" or had made schools worse.