With Mike away on vacation, I get the keys to the vaunted Reform-o-Meter. Certainly President Obama's big speech today deserves to be taken for a spin.
On the up side, the President supports tough standards, strong assessments and accountability systems, performance pay, new pathways into teaching, getting rid of bad teachers, high-quality data systems, charter schools, and linking teachers to student performance. Also, he understands the complications arising from 50 different state-based accountability systems (though he didn't take a position on national standards).
On the down side, he failed to take a position on the DC scholarship program, his teacher initiatives lacked clarity, he's using the "21st century skills" language (which could be benign or serious depending on what's underlying it), he's pushing more money into the ineffective Head Start program, and indexing Pell Grants above inflation and making this mandatory spending could prove very expensive over time.
Although a number of the minuses are concerning, most of the pluses are quite encouraging not to mention significant. It deserves a solid Warm.
As for significance, this was a big speech. While these positions could lose their character...