Money alone cannot solve US school problems: Obama

Bemoaning America`s decreasing global educational competitiveness, President Barack Obama today called for a longer school year, and said the worst-performing teachers have "got to go" if they do not improve quickly.

Washington: Bemoaning America`s decreasing
global educational competitiveness, President Barack Obama
today called for a longer school year, and said the
worst-performing teachers have "got to go" if they do not
improve quickly.

Obama sought in a nationally broadcast interview to
reinvigorate his education agenda. At the same time, the
president acknowledged that many poor schools do not have the
money they need and he defended federal aid for them. But
Obama also said that money alone will not fix the problems in
public schools, saying higher standards must be set and
achieved by students and teachers alike.

Asked in an interview if he supported a year-round
school year, Obama said: "The idea of a longer school year, I
think, makes sense." He did not specify how long that school
year should be but said US students attend classes, on
average, about a month less than children in most other
advanced countries.

US schools usually take a three-month summer break.

On another topic in a live half-hour interview on NBC
television`s "Today" show, the President also sought anew to
show that he understands the frustration of millions of people
coping with a slow economy - and high joblessness - some 20
months into his term. He said that even if people know he is
working hard to fix their problems, what they expect from him
is "something concrete" to help them get a job and pay their
bills.

Education is primarily the domain of state and local
governments. But the federal government has leverage and uses
it, for example, through the strings it attaches to poverty
aid that thousands of schools depend upon to support their
programming.

The President admitted that his own daughters, Malia
and Sasha, could not get the same quality education at a
Washington public school that they currently get at their
private school.

"The (city`s) public schools systems are struggling,"
Obama said, though he added that the school district has,
"made some important strides over the last several years to
move in the direction of reform." Public schools in Washington
have long faced criticism for their low test scores and high
dropout rates.

Separately today, Obama announced a goal of recruiting
10,000 teachers who work in the fields of science, technology,
engineering and math - over the next two years. In a
statement, Obama said such education is vital to allowing
students to compete against their peers in today`s economy.

PTI

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