Duncan: That’s a fascinating one. I’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans and this is a tough thing to say but I’m going to be really honest. The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster. And it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that we have to do better. And the progress that it made in four years since the hurricane, is unbelievable. They have a chance to create a phenomenal school district. Long way to go, but that city was not serious about its education. Those children were being desperately underserved prior. And the amount of progress and the amount of reform we’re seeing in a short amount of time has been absolutely amazing. I have so much respect for the adults, the teachers, the principals that are working hard. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to students at John Mack high school there. Many who had missed school for six months, eight months, 13 months after the Hurricane and still came back to get an education. Children in our country, they want to learn. They’re resilient. They’re tough. We have to meet them half-way. We have to give them opportunity. And New Orleans is doing a phenomenal job of getting that system to an entirely different level.It was the best thing that could have happened to the New Orleans school system? Are you kidding me? I think she knew that she was going into the wilderness with the statement, but proceeded to say it anyway.
Why would the New Orleans public schools need a natural disaster of monumental proportions to wake up and realize that they were a failure? It should never have come to that. Building new schools doesn't improve the schools or the education that the students receive.
There are public school systems around the country that are in disarray and are failing to educate the students with the skills they need to get ahead. It shouldn't take a natural disaster to: 1) recognize the public schools that are a failure; and 2) recognize and fix the problems only after a natural disaster.
It's time to be proactive and fix the education system and that means that the education unions are going to have to grin and bear it; they are a large reason for the failure as all the money thrown at schools hasn't improved education outcomes.
Meanwhile, President Obama admitted what many have suspected all along about the health care bills progressing through Congress; they would have resulted in people losing the ability to see their own doctors and maintain their insurance at the levels they currently have.
The last thing I will say, though -- let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues. If you look at the package that we've presented -- and there's some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating, we were in the process of eliminating. For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your -- if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge. [emphasis added]Might have violated that pledge? The fact is that under both the House and Senate bills, the ability to hold on to your existing levels of coverage would be phased out in as little as one year after the legislative provisions become effective because insurers will start adjusting their coverage to compensate for the changes in the health care. Doctors will see how their reimbursements change and decline to participate in various insurance programs, particularly Medicare.
In other words, your health care coverage will change in fundamental ways, but it will be a fait accompli because the President has all along said that coverages would not change and the Democrats are itching to pass something on health care this year.
So, if President Obama knows that these provisions "got snuck in" what is he doing to get them out. Why are Democrats holding fast to these provisions in Congress? It's time for the President to show some leadership and demand that these provisions be written out unless it faces a veto. The problem is that the numbers wouldn't add up (they don't add up even as the bills are currently construed, but that's a separate matter).