Obama to push education during State of the Union

January 24, 2011 6:03:58 PM PST
President Barack Obama is expected to hit on a big issue in his speech -- education. But, how will he convince Congress to spend more money educating our kids?

The president knows education is a priority for Americans. It is number three on their list according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, the economy was number one and the deficit number two. But improving education costs money, and that's where Obama is expected to clash with Republicans and even with most Americans.

"And they are going to want to hear him say that we should not pay more taxes to support schools. And threading that needles is the political challenge that faces his presidency," David Plank from Policy Analysis for California Education said.

The Policy Analysis for California Education is a research center based at UC Berkeley and Stanford. Plank says Obama will have to reassure Republicans now more than ever he is behind education reform.

"Teacher tenure, teacher evaluation, accountability and who should be responsible for the performance of American schools," he said.

But many teachers argue most of those reforms are misguided, and what's in place now such as the No Child Left Behind Act, expired three years ago.

"You are holding us to this measure, but you have done absolutely nothing to help us reach it, which is like me going to my students and saying 'I am going to give you this test which is much more difficult but I am not teaching you any added lessons,'" Oakland Teacher Amy Boyle said.

While Obama will ask for more federal spending on education, the Republicans are likely to push back and demand more local control -- something the teachers union says isn't a bad idea.

"In this issue with schools, I do believe the changes in schools have to be local. It should be funded, but the changes have to come from the classroom form each school site," Betty Olson Jones from the Oakland Education Association said.

California has cut spending by one-fifth in the past four years, so we have relied on federal funding and stimulus money to save school districts. When the federal government hands out money, it almost always comes with certain demands and conditions, which is what we will continue to see during this administration.