Educators expand on Obama’s State of the Union remarks

From The Register-Mail:

President Barack Obama incorporated several education-related items into his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, and while many area educators applauded the attention, they had much to add.

Barry Swanson, lecturer in Knox College’s educational studies department, especially agreed that teacher respect is “long overdue,” calling for wider support of educators.

“Too many times good teaching is ignored and we only focus on poor teaching and the contentious issue of tenure,” said Swanson. “It is the responsibility of all to eliminate those teachers who are not performing up to standards. However, basing those judgments merely on a high-stakes test is not only unfair, but unreasonable.”

As he has taught in both wealthy and poor school districts, Swanson urged more focus on the issue of poverty as it relates to education.

“Race to the Top has provided some funds to remedy this in certain states that have met certain criteria, but it is not a panacea. We need to do more,” said Swanson. “The voters of this community have done just that, and I believe that our educational system will benefit immensely from their generosity and sense of purpose.”

He also responded to Obama’s call to students aspiring to become teachers, saying that more would do so if salaries and benefits were more competitive.

“At least that is what students tell me,” said Swanson.

Knox educational studies professor Diana Beck said she appreciated Obama’s reference to parents’ roles, specifically to turn off the TV and see that homework gets finished.