Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not All the News is Bad

First, the stock market had a nice up day on some rare good news out of the financial sector and Fed Chairman Bernanke making statements supportive of the banking industry. Not to dump on the auto industry, but if they have to file bankruptcy, so be it. But it's fairly crucial to rally around the financial industry right now, so, "Hurray, banks!" Yeah, that's why I was never a cheerleader.

In really good news, President Barack Obama today took some radical positions on education, which we Republicans call obvious. He called for tying teachers' pay to students' performance, expanding charter schools and having longer -- and more -- school days. As expected, the teachers unions are not pleased with the notion of tying teacher's salaries to academic results.

Today's AP report quoted Education Secretary Arne Duncan as saying, "What you want to do is really identify the best and brightest by a range of metrics, including student achievement." That is something that the unions have not wanted to see as part of education reform. But, since our children are evaluated "by a range of metrics" throughout their schooling, why should the teachers be exempt? Teachers should have to perform well to be rewarded, and held accountable when they fail, just like any other employee.

Charter schools are a great idea -- they give parents and educators much more autonomy, flexibility, and control over the school in exchange for heightened accountability. They are, in effect, a contract between the parents, students, teachers, and administrators where they agree to a shared set of goals. It makes everyone more invested in the process.

I also love the idea of longer days and more of them throughout the school year. Since we don't use our children any more for seasonal employment out on the farm, the notion of a three month summer seem a tad obsolete.

Now, if all these education reforms end up with Obama proposing a 45% top tax bracket on the highest wage earners, I'm going to eat these words with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. I'd like to think we can make education reform without putting an even greater undue financial burden on a few.

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