Obama to Defend Education Policies to Critics

Published July 29, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is defending his administration's education policies, responding to criticism that so far they have not substantially helped minority students.

The president blames some of the criticism of his plan on teachers and others resistant to change.

Obama was to speak Thursday at the centennial convention of the National Urban League, one of eight civil rights organizations that released a report this week calling the president's $4.35 billion education initiative an ineffective approach for failing schools.

In excerpts released ahead of the president's speech, Obama says his program's goal is to spur innovate education reform in states and turn around failing schools, many in minority communities, not just label them as troubled and then walk away.

"It's about investing in that school's future, recruiting the whole community to help turn it around, and identifying some viable options for how to move forward," Obama says.

The National Urban League report, written in conjunction with seven other civil rights groups, says federal data shows that just 3 percent of the nation's black students and less than 1 percent of Latino students are affected by the first round of the administration's "Race to the Top" competition.

The program earlier this year awarded about $600 million to Tennessee and Delaware to undertake reforms.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia were named finalists Tuesday for the second round of the funding.

Obama's education reforms have also drawn criticism from education advocates, including prominent teachers' unions like the American Federation of Teachers.

Obama will tell the civil rights group's convention that some of the criticism of the program comes from those resistant to change and a "comfort with the status quo." The goal of the initiative, he says, isn't to fire or admonish teachers, but to hold them accountable and help "create a better environment for teachers and students alike."

The president will call for schools to provide teachers higher pay and a fulfilling, supportive workplace.

"Instead of a culture where we're always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who shape our children's future," he will tell the group.

Written by <P>JULIE PACE,Associated Press Writer</P>

COMMENTS

Latest in news