Tag Archives: President Obama

Justice Scalia's Passing Leaves Me Sad and Worried

I would normally start a Monday morning post with a cheerful message. Nobody wants doom and gloom on the first day of the week. Unfortunately, today’s post will have to tackle a decidedly sadder and more concerning event: the surprising death over the weekend of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. For those who don’t follow the proceedings or makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court closely, Justice Scalia was an intellectual and legal titan. Appointed to SCOTUS by Ronald Reagan in 1986, he almost single-handedly led a “conservative revolution” on SCOTUS that has left an indelible imprint on the high court’s thinking and reasoning. A staunch believer in constitutional originalism, he supported the idea that the U.S. Constitution ought to be read in light of what it actually says, not interpreted through the warped lens of the political fads of any given administration or era (imagine that). In many ways, one could argue that it was Scalia who brought the intellectual firepower needed to push constitutional originalism into the mainstream. His ideas, critiques, and arguments will echo for decades to come, and have forever changed the conversation surrounding constitutional law in America. One day 100 years from now, long after […]

Read More...

Little Action Required by Obama's Testing Action Plan

Welcome back, dear readers. I apologize for leaving you mostly adrift for a week as I gallivanted around various education reform conferences. At least you got a good post about the coming local elections yesterday, and you’ve got another big one in store for today. A national story popped up this past weekend that I really should address: After many moons supporting testing and test-linked accountability (often through questionably coercive waivers), the Obama Administration has released a new “Testing Action Plan” calling for some course alterations when it comes to testing in America. That plan comes with the blessing of testing and accountability proponent Arne Duncan, who will be stepping down as U.S. Secretary of Education in December. John King of New York will take his place. Obviously, the administration’s movement was well received by opponents of standardized testing and tying student data to teacher evaluations. That includes horn-tooting statements from both NEA and AFT hailing the administration and reasserting that testing and test-based accountability are bad, bad things. I’m still pretty sure the unions’ position has something to do with tenure reform and an effort to cling to outdated steps-and-columns pay structures, but what do I know? But what […]

Read More...

Down Goes ESEA Reauthorization?

As the “Great Testing Mess of 2015” grinds on, one of the questions that’s been in the back of the education world’s collective mind is how a federal ESEA reauthorization might affect states’ situations. We’ve talked before about some of the weird politics behind the reauthorization effort, and I even speculated that things may not have been looking good after President Obama failed to even mention the possibility of an ESEA reauthorization in his State of the Union speech. Unfortunately, it looks like that speculation may have been on target. Rick Hess, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and one of my education policy heroes, posted a smart article earlier this week that takes a look at our ESEA prospects after last Friday’s congressional drama. For those who don’t know, House Republicans pulled back from a vote on Rep. John Kline’s HR 5, or the Student Success Act, after failing to garner enough support. Interestingly, a nearly identical bill did pass back in 2013. So what happened? I’ll let Rick explain: … Back in 2013, when the U.S. House passed the Student Success Act without much drama, I was surprised. I’d expected that a number of Tea Party […]

Read More...

Detective Eddie and the Case of the Missing ESEA SOTU Mention

As you may know, last night was the SOTU. I spent more time than one might expect attempting to convert that into a funny, education-related acronym, but had little success. For the record, I blame my failure on my age and innocent youth. Regardless, no joke for you today. But hey, maybe I don’t need to be cracking jokes. After all, the president’s State of the Union address is pretty important. It hints at future battles, helps set the tone for the year, and provides a little more detail on potential policies in the pipeline.  Most importantly, it outlines the president’s priorities. Maybe that’s why I found it so noticeable that K-12 education—and particularly the massive ESEA reauthorization fight brewing in D.C.—received little more than a rhetorical nod. Oh, and in case you missed the address, the video is below. If you aren’t interested in the full hour-long speech, Education Week put together a decent synopsis that you may find helpful.

Read More...

NEA Backs Obama Care Plan, Doesn't Bother Asking Member Teachers

For some reason, these days all the big people are talking a lot more about health care than education. Hey, I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctor or going to school. But at least at school, you’ve got some of your friends around you. And learning can be fun, too (but don’t tell my friends I said that). Anyway, my other friends in the Education Policy Center provide one overlooked example of how the two issues overlap with this post on the Independent Teachers blog: If you were a full-time member of the National Education Association (NEA) through joining your local teachers union, then you sent money during the 2007-08 school year to support the current proposal from Congress and President Obama to promote socialized medicine. According to the latest disclosure report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, NEA gave $500,000 in 2007-08 to the group Health Care for America Now, a 501c4 political organization that is backing President Obama’s health care plan. (It is likely that NEA has made further contributions to this group since 2007-08, since NEA is listed as being a member of the HCAN steering committee.) Wow, you think the union could […]

Read More...

Please Don't Let Unions Play Hide-and-Seek with Teachers' Money

Hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun, but not when someone else — especially some big group — is playing it with your money. That’s why my friends at the Independence Institute make such a big deal about government spending transparency. But what about transparency for teachers who belong to, or have to pay fees to, a union? Following the story of the Indiana state teachers union that lost millions of dollars of members’ money through gross mismanagement, James Sherk and Dan Lips from the Heritage Foundation wrote a great piece for yesterday’s National Review Online called “Shady Dealings”. They explain how teachers unions have fought having to shine light on their financial activities:

Read More...