To the Editor:
I read the article “Rigor, Rewards, Quality: Obama’s Education Aims” (March 18, 2009) with great interest. President Barack Obama’s speech on March 10 laying out his plans for education echoes what the American Federation of School Administrators and other education professionals have said, time and time again, about the importance of investing in education.
Although not a new idea, this is refreshing to hear from our president, especially because he seems committed to providing the leadership required to transform a lofty goal into actual policy. Congress must work with him to make the ideal become a reality, and must do this quickly, concurrent with urgent actions in other areas.
The nation will not enjoy long-term prosperity unless and until it invests in education. The research is very clear: For every dollar we spend on successful early-childhood initiatives, we get nearly $10 back in reduced health-care costs, decreased spending on crime and prisons, smaller welfare rolls, and greater productivity by members of our communities and society as a whole. Early-childhood education, including day care, is not baby-sitting, and we must make certain that providers are certified educators—teachers and administrators.
President Obama said: "[P]olitics and ideology have too often trumped our progress. ... Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance.” Regardless of political affiliation, this is a nonpartisan issue. All Americans will benefit from an investment in education.
The AFSA, the national union for school administrators, will continue to support major reform across all levels of federal education policy as long as those policies are supportive and not punitive, research-based, and built upon our collective wisdom and experience. We call on President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to remember that schools, like the nation itself, require exemplary, thoughtful, and knowledgeable leadership. As part of accomplishing that, we anticipate a future focus on school principals and other supervisory personnel. And we look forward to such a dialogue.
Jill S. Levy
American Federation of School Administrators
A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2009 edition of Education Week as Obama’s Plans for Education Will Rely on School Leaders