Unlike Bush, Obama favors charter schools

November 6, 2008 5:30:18 PM PST
Most teachers' unions and educators in California expect President-elect Barack Obama to make changes to the nation's education system. He has been a critic of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, and unlike President Bush, he supports charter schools.

President-elect Obama has spoken of changes for America's young. He has said those changes begin in the classroom. Obama is expected to push for revisions within the No Child Left Behind Act.

"It's been chronically underfunded. He wants to see some strong reforms so that it really does help struggling schools," said Susan Solomon with United Educators of San Francisco.

Obama is against using public money for vouchers for private schools, but he is in favor of charter schools.

"I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers' unions. I think it is important for us to foster competition inside the public schools," Obama said during his third presidential debate with Senator John McCain.

"That's providing an option to a bunch of kids in Chicago who wouldn't otherwise have that option if there weren't charter schools," said Molly Wood, principal of KIPP Bayview Academy, a San Francisco charter school.

However, teachers' unions are often against charter schools.

"Not all charter schools, for example, have to meet the same standards that public schools do. So we have a concern about the students -- what about the education they are getting?" said Solomon.

ABC7 News has obtained a report, yet to be released, which says 12 of California's 15 highest performing public schools serving children in poverty are charter schools.

The report was compiled by the California Charter Schools Association. They used the 2008 Academic Performance Index (API) which measures a student's proficiency in reading and writing.

Bay Area Congressman George Miller (D) of Concord is the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. He says he will help Obama promote more charter schools.

"How we do that is a matter of discussion. But I think it's very important that we continue along this line. I think it has a great deal of support on both sides of the aisle in the Congress of the United States," said Miller.

Miller is also expected to continue playing an important role in reforming No Child Left Behind.


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