Hello, Mr. President

By Dan Schlafer

If I could sit down and talk with the President of the United States, here’s what I would say about school boards and K-12 public education: “Mr. President, fix the flaws and change the law!”

But first, I would say to President Barack Obama, congratulations on your election. Clearly, you are cognizant that our nation’s hopes and dreams are securely tied to your coattails. Not since the days of Kennedy’s Camelot have our expectations been this lofty. Never have so many required so much of one man. Without question, our nation is in a time of transition with a yearning for change and a need for transformation.

As the federal programs director in one school district and a board member in another, I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the state of public education with you. Clearly, our current economic woes and the ongoing war on terror have taken center stage in the campaign conversation during the past two years. As a result, this vitally important issue --  public education --  was notably absent from the discussion.

We cannot afford to wait longer to begin the education conversation. Our children’s future is hanging in the balance. If left unchanged, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 will ensure that no child’s behind will be left in a public school by 2014, that magical, mystical year when all students in our public schools meet adequate yearly progress goals and graduate on time. What looks like, to many of us, the privatization of public education will have been completed, assisted by vouchers and charter schools unless fundamental, positive change is made.

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