In his speech today, President Obama challenged American students to take responsibility for their own success. Telling students that succeeding in life requires hard work, he urged students to set goals, do their homework, and seek guidance from positive role models. It was a good message for students to hear. We hope that American students answer his challenge.
But President Obama has his own challenge to answer. It was made clear by a group of education leaders who held a civil disobedience protest outside the U.S. Department of Education. Led by parent activist Virginia Walden Ford and former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous, the protestors called on President Obama to reverse his administration's decision to phase-out the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program--denying hundreds of low-income children the chance to attend safe and effective schools. As the protestors asked, how can President Obama challenge American students to succeed in school when his administration is responsible for denying children the opportunity to receive a quality education?
The debate over the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program is indicative of the broader struggle over the future of American education. For too long, American schools have failed to deliver a quality education to millions of children. Yet policymakers continue to delay needed reforms like school choice that can ensure that all children have access to a quality education.
President Obama is in the position to help change this. He could state his support for student-centered education reforms, starting with the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.
A Wake Up Call for Parents about American Education, by Dan Lips
Fear Shouldn't Interfere with a Child's Education, by Israel Ortega (A Spanish language version is also available from BajoElSol.com.)A Parent's Guide to Education