Phi Beta Cons

What an Obama Victory Augurs for Higher Education

Before the presidential Democratic primary revved up, Senator Obama hinted at having an open mind to providing children with private-school vouchers, so that those less fortunate could, like his own children, have a chance to attend elite schools.

But then he backed off, stating that his education agenda “does not include vouchers, in any shape or form.” Herewith, comments the New York Sun:

was the same old interest-group Democratic Party politics as usual. It was plainly designed to assuage the teachers’ unions, who are the enemies of change. If Mr. Obama really gets into the education issue, he is going to realize that no position that includes accountability for schools or teachers is going to satisfy that interest group.
What else to make of the post on the United Federation of Teachers blog, which responded to the Obama campaign’s clarification on the voucher issue by attacking him for having introduced a bill calling for rating the effectiveness of individual teachers, administrators, and schools using a value-added system, and awarding incentives based on those assessments?

In an Obama presidency a similar dynamic regarding higher education will prevail, because interests such as the UFT will more than ever dominate the politics of higher education. Should the senator become president, the accountability movement on campuses will come to a screeching halt. Fledgling efforts at measuring student success in learning and rewarding professors for effective teaching will wither on the vine.


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