President Obama says the U.S. Education system isn't quite making the grade. In an extended interview on network television Monday morning, the President outlined some aggressive initiatives for change. Most of what was discussed sits well with union reps, but at least one part may not be too popular with kids. Our Erin Connolly has this story.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "You can't defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are dropping out," said President Obama, who didn't hold back his thoughts on our current education system. Referring to more than 2,000 schools as dropout factories, the President said money must be combined with reforms to put only the best teachers in classrooms.
President Obama said, "We have to be able to identify teachers who are doing well and who aren't doing well. We have to be able to give them the support and training they need to do well and ultimately if some teachers aren't doing well they got to go."
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said, ''If you're not doing well and you've been given all the support system, then you should, we are supporting you transition out of the profession."
Obama also suggested to professionalize teaching by creating a career ladder, a concept the New York State Teachers Union also supports. But the President shocked many when he dared to suggest lengthening the school year, saying other advanced countries keep their children in schools an average of a month longer.
Neira said, ''It's not that the union doesn't want to go that way. It is a financial cost. And then when you get over the hurdle of, can a system pay for it, then it becomes, what are we going to differently for the students?''
Obama also touched on unions and the fact he supports them but said sometimes they're resistant to change.
Neira said, "I do disagree with him when he says unions tend to be resistant. Yes we do resist when there are reforms being done to us as opposed to with us."
While the President and the union can't agree on everything, one thing is clear - the kids are everyone's priority.
President Obama said, ''There is not a more important profession for the success of this economy over the long term than making sure we have great teachers in the classroom.''
Monday, the President also announced a goal of recruiting 10,000 science, technology, engineering, and math teachers over the next two years. Obama is concerned about the decline in students math and science scores. Also important to note is Obama took time to applaud his "Race to the Top" initiative saying it has been a powerful tool for reform. Last month, New York was among nine states to win in the latest round of the competition, securing almost $700 million in grant money for schools.