Dear President Obama,
Like millions of Americans, I wept on the night you were elected. For me, the audacity of hope and the fierce urgency of now brought new and welcome promise for our country.
I followed the evolution of your presidency closely, both your actions and the country's reactions. I watched you act as what one observer termed "the Teacher-in-Chief," laying out facts and realities and waiting for us to come to our own conclusions in the best constructivist tradition. I watched you develop a collaborative style of leadership, watched millions of Americans misconstrue and/or undervalue what you were doing, and began to wonder if you were 50 years ahead of your time.
It's especially ironic, then, that I never could get on board with your Administration's educational policy. How, I wondered, could you lead in one tradition and advocate educational policy in another? How could you reconcile your Administration's policy with the education Malia and Sacha were getting at an exemplary independent school? I had to believe that deep down, you felt that public school children deserved no less than your own daughters. My wife and I work in independent schools, and my son attends one; we are all strong supporters of public schools.
So I was delighted when you came out against the overuse and misuse of standardized testing and supported a broad, inquiry-based curriculum. I would happily join you in vigorously promoting a genuinely research-based vision of education that builds skills in collaboration and creativity as students construct their knowledge. I would also happily join you in a renewed War on Poverty, for as we know, no other factor does more to create the education gap than does poverty.
Our schools have been under attack, and rarely have I felt the fierce urgency of now more strongly. Your statement has renewed my hope and given me the courage to be audacious. I look forward to working to build a brighter future for all our children.
Shelburne Falls, MA