In Presidential Politics, The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

As we rapidly approach the end of the second year of the Obama administration, it is a good time take an in-depth look and see if the President delivered on the “change we can believe in” campaign promise. This analysis was prompted by an Associated Press article on September 27, 2010 which reviewed the comments the President made on a recent broadcast interview on the Today Show as it related to public education in this country.

The President’s thoughts included the following:

– “The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense.”

– The President admitted that his daughters could not get the same quality education at a public school than what they are currently getting in a private school. He did admit that the struggling D.C schools have “made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform.”

– He said that he wants to work with teachers’ unions but warned that they should not defend a status quo in which one third of U.S. children drop out of school, challenging them not to be resistant to change.

– The President also endorsed the firing of teachers who are low performers.

These are all great ideas…. if you are running for office. Of course longer schools years make sense. Kids would not forget as much during the summer plus, while U.S. kids go to school about 180 days a year, most of the rest of the world goes to school 10% more or about 197 days a year. While D.C. schools have made some strides recently, the American Federation Of Teachers union recently spent $1 million to help defeat the D.C. mayor who supported the changes to the status quo that resulted in those improvements. While the schools improved, the defeated mayor, Adrian Fenty oversaw the firing of 200 teachers for poor classroom results. Thus, it does not look like the unions are on board yet with the President.

The President still talks a good show but the results leave everything to be desired. His words are good on education reform, but he has not put forth any concrete plans to improve the dismal performance of public schools in this country. He “thinks” that a longer school year makes sense but apparently has no plans to see if that assumption is true. He “wants” to work with the teachers’ unions but apparently has no plan to see how the cooperation might take effect. He “endorses” the firing of low performing teachers but apparently has no plan to determine how to define what low performance is.

To solve a problem, you first need to identify the root causes of the problem, determine what desired solution you want, determine what resources are needed to attain the solution, and put together a work plan and schedule to attain that solution. Politicians of all kinds they never use this process. Their only process is what is the easiest way to look like they are solving problems that nets them the most votes in the next election, regardless if the problem ever gets solved. Or as Karl Marx once said: “The oppressed are allowed every four years to decide which representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and oppress.”