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Articles tagged with Obama

Democracy in America is turning into a one-sided debate

How many Americans truly understand how democracy is supposed to work?

I was pondering that question this morning as I drove to work. I kept thinking about those television images of town hall meetings where the debate over health care reform was dominated by frightened, ill-informed people talking about Nazi political agendas and death panels.

Where were the thoughtful, informed citizens who wanted a reasoned debate about the costs of health care reform-or had questions about the wisdom of expanding the federal government’s role in health care?

Then I got to work and started reading news articles about parents who are upset that President Barack Obama plans to address the nation’s students next week to talk about the importance of studying and staying in school.

It seems some people are worried the president’s webcast is “political recruiting.” The president apparently intends to indoctrinate our young people, to sway them to a liberal political doctrine.

Oh, good grief.

Okay, it’s America. People are entitled to their opinions. But so am I, although as a journalist for ASBJ, I must choose my words carefully on this blog (and note that I’m speaking for myself, not the magazine).

Naomi Dillon|September 3rd, 2009|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Obama’s vision for a new education system

Pres. Obama delivered his first major speech on education at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, watch it in its entirety here

Naomi Dillon|March 10th, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Inspiration, better academic performance could be drawn from new Prez

Research has long touted the impact that positive role models can have on students, particularly at-risk students, and their academic performance. Having someone to look up to and draw inspiration from can be an incredibly effective motivator for students.

So it should come as little surprise that many think President Barack Obama might prove to be the ultimate muse? What did surprise some is how quickly the nation’s new leader seems to have an effect on persistent racial gaps in academic performance.

Researchers from San Diego State, Northwestern and Vanderbilt universities administered a 20-question test to a group of 472 black and white Americans, their ages ranging from 18 to 63 and their educational background ranging from high school drop out to doctoral recipient.

The test, which drew from the verbal portion of the GRE, was conducted before Obama’s nomination, after his acceptance speech at the DNC, and once more after he was elected.

“Obama is obviously inspirational but we wondered whether he would contribute to an improvement in something as important as black test-taking,” Ray Friedman, one of the study’s authors told the New York Times.   “We were skeptical that we would find any effect, but our results surprised us.” 

The study showed that a disparity between the scores of the black test-takers and white test-takers virtually disappeared between the time Obama was vying for the nation’s highest office and the time he actually clinched it.

While the study drew on a small group and has not been peer-viewed, many found the results intriguing and worthy of more extensive research.

“There is certainly a theoretical foundation and some empirical support for the proposition that Obama’s election could increase the sense of competence among African-Americans and it could reduce the anxiety associated with taking difficult test questions,” Harvard professor Ronald Ferguson told the Times.

Naomi Dillon|January 26th, 2009|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |

Inauguration provides teachable moment for young and old alike

My mother finally got her party last night.

Over the years, since the Bush administration came into office, she’s dealt with countless cases of berating and bullying from neighbors and friends, some of which was alcohol-induced, who live in a Tennessee retirement/resort community. Even the president of the local GOP nicknamed her “special ed.” (obviously he hasn’t studied his party’s positions on federal special education funding).

I often thought of these people when I was writing “The Importance of Civics Education,” which appeared in ASBJ’s January issue. While I was writing (around the time of the election) we got an email from a counselor in Louisiana who reported that some of her African-American students were being bullied by McCain supporters, unfortunate incidents that probably went underreported. I also spoke with the group Teaching Tolerance, part of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which had anticipated some backlash and prepared a kit of classroom exercises to help ease the tensions, available on their website.

“One of the things teachers can do is recognize that this is not just a matter of policies, it’s really about young people and their emotional investment and their identity,” Senior Editor Tim Lockette says. “It’s a time to address issues of identity and get young people to think about, ‘what is my role?'”

Last night, some of the few and proud Obama supporters in my mom’s neighborhood threw an extravagant party to celebrate not only Obama’s symbolism and the inauguration, but also the departure of an administration that appeared to dismiss non-conforming ideals and underhandedly encouraged bullying.      

Nevertheless, it wasn’t just celebrating with like-minded friends that my mom excitedly told me about this morning, it was a 9-year-old boy, Jackson, the son of one of her friends.

Naomi Dillon|January 21st, 2009|Categories: Governance, Diversity, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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