Reforming the education system

January 13, 2009 3:54:48 PM PST
President-elect Obama has set the stage for major education reforms for students of all ages. "The path to jobs and growth begins in America's classrooms," he said.

A private, childcare program is consistent with an Obama priority on early childhood education.

"Their hearts and their brains are like sponges. They absorb. That's when they absorb all they can learn," child care provider Janet Alexander said.

Mr. Obama agrees, so he wants to give money to states for early education.

"I think it is time we raised expectations for our kids all across the country and build schools that meet and exceed those expectations," Obama said.

Obama wants to create more charter schools like the Renaissance Charter School in Queens, where expectations are very high.

"We get to learn about things. We just don't learn for U.S. history for whatever test that we need to take. We really explore what we need to know," student Mabelly Guerrero said.

"Education is the common thread. It is the civil rights issue of our generation," Secretary of Education-designate Arne Duncan said.

Duncan ran the school system in Chicago and is credited with turning it around. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein wants federal education funding to be part of the proposed economic stimulus package.

: "Invest in bringing new teachers to the school system; invest in bringing math and science teachers to the school system. That's the long-term future of this country," he said.

The President-elect will push for changes in "No Child Left Behind", the Bush initiative meant to improve education for all students.

"Where the big fight is going to be is how you determine whether or not kids are slipping through the cracks and then what happens to states and districts," Joe Williams said.

Obama's proposed American Opportunity Tax Credit means the first four-thousand dollars of a college education would be free, in exchange for a hundred hours of community service. He would simplify the process for financial aid, and make sure 11th graders are on track for college work.

The President-elect is also putting parents on notice.

"No education policy can replace a parent who makes sure a child gets to school on time, or helps with homework and attends those parent-teacher conferences," he said.