President Obama pinpointed our education system as one of his primary objectives for overhaul. Certainly he could be the right person to accomplish this goal. However, accomplishing this goal would take a significant break from his past -- akin to Nixon going to China.
The challenge comes from the fact that his political brethren created this disaster. The principal problems with our secondary school system do not come from small communities or suburban school districts. That is why when voucher initiatives are put forward they never win. The parents in those areas don’t have a problem with their educational system and don’t need vouchers. Where vouchers are needed is the large metropolitan areas of this country -- the cities. Ask yourself who has run those school district for the last 50 years – Democrats and the teachers’ unions.
Not only have they stifled voucher experiments in D.C. and Milwaukee, but every innovation attempted in school operations in the last 20 years has been killed. If you watched Obama’s speech to Congress, you would have seen Speaker Nancy Pelosi pogoing up and down like a teeny-bopper at a Jonas Brothers concert as Obama rolled out one Democratic mantra after another. When he spoke of education and mentioned charter schools, a rather benign development in secondary education, she sat stone-faced as he received tepid applause. One could conjecture that if he would have mentioned merit pay for teachers, as he did in his book, The Audacity of Hope, she would have gaveled the meeting to an end. Unfortunately, Obama backtracked on that as he bowed to the teachers’ unions during his campaign.
Mr. Obama can be a transformative President on this issue. First, he must choose inner-city parents over unions. He has to challenge the existing system. He has to recognize that the existing structure needs to cater to the customer and not to the operators of the school system. He needs to get behind the black mothers who are afraid to send their children to inner-city schools and demand that they get safe, quality schools or radicalize the system. The operators of these systems have failed the black community for far too long and they need to succeed or be replaced. No more lip service can be tolerated while another generation of inner-city youth gets destroyed.