Parents can and should do more to foster learning by introducing good study habits at home, he said.
"No matter how good the teacher, if the kid's coming home from school, and the parent isn't checking to see if they are doing their homework or watching TV, that's going to be a problem," he said. "And that, by the way, is true here in this White House. Malia and Sasha are great kids, and great students. But if you gave them a choice, they'd be happy to sit in front of the TV all night long, every night. At some point you have to say, ‘Your job, kid, right now, is to learn.’ ”
Obama repeated his support for a longer school year after being asked about it by students from a sixth-grade class in Cincinatti, Ohio. He did not specify how long that school year should be, however he noted that U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries.
"That month makes a difference. It means students are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer ... The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense," Obama said. "Now, that's going to cost some money ..., but I think that would be money well spent."
"We cannot cut education," Obama said, noting that families facing tough times cut back on vacation or movies or eating out, rather than dipping into savings for a child's college tuition. "A budget that sacrifices our children's education will be a budget that sacrifices our country's future," he said.
President Obama on Friday announced a new policy under which most students who lack the documentation to reside legally in the United States can avoid deportation and may be able to receive the authorization to work in the United States.
The action falls far short of the federal DREAM Act (for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), which would provide a path to citizenship for such students. But Obama's action removes the immediate threat of deportation, a threat that led many would-be students to avoid continuing their educations.
Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.
"Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools," the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation's education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that "everybody agrees makes sense" and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.
Obama has put pressure on the unions since he was a candidate in 2008 and has kept doing so since becoming president. “Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom,” he told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March 2009.
Since taking office more than three years ago, Obama has prioritized education, pushing elementary and secondary education reform, helping states avoid George W. Bush-era school mandates and expanding federal financial aid for college students.
He also funneled $100 billion to the states in the 2009 stimulus and has been slowly increasing Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s discretionary budget — efforts that have reaped bipartisan support, appealed to young voters and promoted his personal story.
“Teachers matter,” the president said, “so instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal.” .... President Obama wants to launch a new federal competitive grant program for attracting, preparing, supporting, and rewarding great teachers to help students learn. The program would challenge states and school districts to work with teachers and their unions to change the teaching profession in the fundamental ways necessary to ensure a good—not an uneven or sub-par—education for our children.
Upon returning to the White House from his two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania Friday, President Obama took to the East Room to sign legislation that will prevent the doubling of interest rates on new student loans.
As a candidate, Barack Obama proposed the creation of a community college partnership program to support institutions that provide a stepping stone to better jobs for millions of Americans. As President, he kept his word and created a new Community College to Career Fund to build on that progress.
Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country. These institutions give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models and develop creative methods to meet students' needs. This unique flexibility is matched by strong accountability and high standards, so underperforming charter schools can be closed, while those that consistently help students succeed can serve as models of reform for other public schools.