Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, on the campaign trail in Dayton, OH, discussed his plans to reform American education in a major speech, entitled “A 21st Century Education,” on September 9, 2008.
"We need a new vision for a 21st century education – one where we aren’t just supporting existing schools, but spurring innovation; where we’re not just investing more money, but demanding more reform; where parents take responsibility for their children’s success; where our schools and government are accountable for results; where we’re recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers, and students are excited to learn because they’re attending schools of the future; and where we expect all our children not only to graduate high school, but to graduate college and get a good paying job."
Obama emphasized the the urgency of preparing all of the nation's students to compete globally. "Our kids and our country can’t afford four more years of neglect and indifference. At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in a global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. They will help determine not only whether our children have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential, or whether our workers have the chance to build a better life for their families, but whether we, as a nation, will remain in the 21st century the kind of global economic leader that we were in the 20th century."
"It’s time to ask ourselves why other countries are outperforming us in education. Because it’s not that their kids are smarter than ours – it’s that they’re being smarter about how to educate their kids. They’re spending less time teaching things that don’t matter and more time teaching things that do. Their students are spending more time in school, and they’re setting higher expectations."
In providing more detail to his education platform, Obama promised to give low-income students access to college-level courses; fund “innovative schools”; recruit and train high-quality teachers; and create a “parent report card” to update families about their children’s progress. He also swore to replace weak teachers, send teams to improve “bad programs,” and shut down unsuccessful charters.
While addressing NCLB, Obama said, "Of course, we also have to fix the broken promises of No Child Left Behind. Now, I believe that the goals of this law were the right ones. Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher is right. Closing the achievement gap that exists in too many cities and rural areas is right. More accountability is right. Higher standards are right."
Obama's complete speech can be viewed on youtube.com at Obama's 21st Century Education Plan