BSU Alum Plays Hosts at Presidential Visit
President Obama meets BSU alum Dr. John Word at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA
By Annette Wedderburn
President Obama visited Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., where Bowie State alum Dr. John Word serves a principal. The president's primary purpose for his visit was to ask congress to rewrite the education law commonly referred to as "No Child Left Behind." This law has been in its current form for about ten years.
"The goals of No Child Left Behind were the right goals: Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher -- that's the right thing to do, that's the right goal. Higher standards are right. Accountability is right. Shining a light on the achievement gap between students of different races and backgrounds, and those with and without disabilities, that's the right thing to do," Obama said.
The president went on to say, "But what hasn't worked is denying teachers, schools, and states what they need to meet these goals. That's why we need to fix No Child Left Behind." In making the case for why No Child Left Behind needs to be fixed, the president shared with the group that, "According to new estimates, under the system No Child Left Behind put in place, more than 80 percent of our schools may be labeled as failing -- 80 percent of our schools."
The Washington Post quoted Dr. Word as saying, "the law is broken and I'm ecstatic and delighted to hear that he's going to fix it". Republicans and democrats alike seem to recognize and agree with the need to fix this law. The only question is the timetable for getting it done. The President asked that the revisions be done by September.
This was perhaps the most important policy speech on education in Obama's relatively short tenure. The fact that it was delivered from Kenmore on March 14 helped to make a special day all the more significant. This speech presents an opportunity for the education community to take a proactive step to initiate input into the revisions. Often times we in education circles complain to one another and not position ourselves strategically to create the kind of policies we know are in the best interest of schools, families and children.
Annette Wedderburn serves in the Bowie State University Office of Alumni Affairs.