A Letter From the WHITE HOUSE

A Letter From the WHITE HOUSE It has been over five weeks since I sent a letter to the White House with my concerns regarding the rigid standardized testing mandates. Today was the first day of our three-day ELA segment of NYS Testing; what arrived in my mailbox couldn't have been more apropos... a reply from the President of the United States. My mantra has always been, In order to be treated fairly and equally all children need to be treated differently - Melvin Konner. That is how I started my letter to the White House, and I begin this blog entry with the same sentiments. We need to be testing levels, not grades. Just because a child chronologically falls into a specified grade, it does not put all children on the same page. Some children may not even be in the same book. In academics standards, some will be high, others higher, a few average, then they'll be those that are low - some very low. This range in abilities is the norm. We will not ever have everyone achieving on the same level, just as we have those talented in the arts and others athletically inclined. We now have the concept of multiple intelligences. Why can't this diversity in skill sets be acknowledged and celebrated? Once again, the cry for common sense in acknowledging these differences is blatantly ignored. Complaining about anything without doing something about it is verboten in my book. I wouldn't be comfortable voicing my opinions if I was not trying to improve the situation. With all the emphasis on testing and accountability for teachers, no one in the bureaucratic circles seems to get it. When it comes to evaluating children, one size does not fit all. So, thank you, President Obama, for writing back; your timing couldn't have been better. You aren't off the hook yet, though. You didn't address the concerns about this very concept in your letter. I will continue to write and rewrite about this misconception and until some constructive changes have been made and the No Child Left Behind Act is not just reformed but transformed - as it stands today, it equates no child pushed ahead. As you so eloquently stated, "The future of America’s economic strength is determined each day in classrooms across our Nation." Let us begin to make the appropriate changes necessary for all children to be appreciated for who they are and what they will one day become. Hopefully, responsible citizens, celebrating their differences together.

April 17, 2012

Dear Jayne:


Thank you for writing.  My Administration is working to ensure all America’s young people have educational opportunities worthy of their potential, and I appreciate hearing from you.

There is no stronger foundation for success than a great education.  We must provide our children with the world-class schools they need to succeed and our Nation needs to compete in the global economy.  Our classrooms should be places of high expectations and success, where all students receive an education that prepares them for higher education and high-demand careers in our fast-changing economy.

My Administration has made historic investments to strengthen our education system, including our Race to the Top program—the most ambitious education reform our country has seen in generations.  Race to the Top focuses on what is best for our students by engaging state and local leaders and educators in turning around our lowest performing schools, developing and rewarding effective teachers, adopting meaningful assessments, and tracking the progress of our students.

To comprehensively reshape our educational system and better meet state and local needs, we also need to reform the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—a law that has helped advance accountability and expose disparities in opportunities and outcomes, but labels too many schools as failing and imposes too many unworkable remedies.  Because America’s students could not afford to wait any longer for Congress to act, my Administration launched a new Federal-State partnership to provide States flexibility to advance educational reforms in exchange for a commitment to raise standards, improve accountability, and help teachers become more effective.  The first round of States to receive flexibility was announced in February 2012, and while they are required to maintain a focus on underserved students, they can now move away from one-size-fits-all interventions and mandates and instead do what is best for students.

The future of America’s economic strength is determined each day in classrooms across our Nation.  To be successful, we must cultivate a learning environment with an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective principal in every school.  Supporting a strong teaching workforce and inspiring school leadership is a top priority for my Administration.  In these challenging financial times for State and local budgets, we have worked to help schools keep teachers in the classroom, preserve or extend the regular school day and year, and maintain important afterschool activities.  My Administration has also put forward a robust plan to strengthen and transform the teaching profession through a series of investments to help States and districts pursue bold reforms at every stage of the profession.  This includes attracting top-tier talent and preparing educators for success, creating career ladders with opportunities for advancement and competitive compensation, evaluating and supporting the development of teachers and principals, and getting the best educators into the classrooms of the students who need them most.

Across our country, young people are dreaming of their futures and of the ideas that will chart the course of our unwritten history.  A world-class education system will equip our Nation to advance economic growth, encourage new investment and hiring, spark innovation, and ensure the success of the middle class.  Preparing our students for higher education and rewarding careers fulfills our promise to our Nation’s young people and strengthens America for generations to come.  To learn more about my Administration’s work, please visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/Issues/Education.

Thank you, again, for writing.



Barack Obama

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