Today’s Lesson

Our Commander in Chief likes to be Teacher in Chief about this time of year. He started addressing schoolchildren in the first year of his presidency and has done so every year since.

So today Obama took to the podium – figuratively – again. Here’s part of his message: “You’ve also got people all across this country – including me – working on your behalf. We’re taking every step we can to ensure that you’re getting an education system that’s worthy of your potential. We’re working to make sure that you have the most up to date schools with the latest tools for learning. We’re making sure that our country’s colleges and universities are affordable and accessible. And we’re working to get the best teachers into your classrooms, so they can prepare you for college and a future career.”

Odd kind of tone, don’t you think? It reeks of campaign promises (I’m working for you!) and an appeal to constituencies (you deserve the best!). Shouldn’t it be more about urging kids to do their best? Do “up to date schools with all the latest tools” really ensure smarter kids? Seems the more money we pour into schools, the worse quality of student that comes out.

In Memphis we spend a billion a year on schools. Do we get much of a return for the money?

Shouldn’t the effort be on the part of the student to excel and to want to get into college? Is making it more accessible going to give us a higher quality of student? Some of our greatest thinkers and leaders came out of hard scrabble backgrounds, spurred by the American dream. Is serving it up to diffident youth a way towards excellence? Seems all backwards.

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