Obama Gets Schooled

BarackeducationI read Josh Pasternak's new article about Barack Obama's school reform credentials ( Reform School)

with mixed feelings, not just because I'm working on my own Obama piece

about his work in Chicago on education but also because I'm not sure Pasternak's analysis is altogether compelling.

In essence, we're being told that Obama is reform-minded underneath

it all and stands a strong chance to implement a reformist education

agenda ("the best hope for real reform in decades"). About the first,

there's no argument. About the second -- whether Obama will be able to

make change -- I'm not so sure. No, check that. I'm pretty doubtful.

Click below if you want to read a couple more paragraphs. Cross-posted from TWIE.

As Pasternak notes, in recent weeks Obama has slowly boxed himself in

further and further on education issues -- crapping on NCLB, renouncing

vouchers, etc. What he did or said in 05 or even 07 doesn't matter

much. Nor does it really matter how many campaign advisers he sends toCanada reformistan to tell us that he doesn't really mean to get out of NAFTANCLB. If he wins the primary as a traditional Democrat he's always

going to struggle to go back to the middle if and when he's elected.

Part of Bush's big success on NCLB was that it was part and parcel of

what he'd run on from the start -- not an approach that veered and

swayed depending on the month.

Sure, teachers unions are a little weaker than they once were. But

they're still pretty damn powerful. Sure, the young folk think about

schools differently than their elders. But they're not usually in

charge. Sure, DFER is chomping at the bit. But it's still a tiny part

of the fundraising machine.

The best part of the article is its description of how Obama has

wavered and waffled on education in recent months -- part of him hoping

to stay true to his own ideas, another part of him really wanting that

NEA endorsement. Well, the NEA has decided not to endorse this year

-- call that a victory if you want. The AFT is already with Clinton.

And thus far, at least, school reform is not nearly as sharp or

prominent a part of Obama's campaign as it would need to be to generate

big changes in 2009. In fact, things are going the other way.

Filed under: Campaigns & Clout

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