Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama has stepped up the talk on education. Some education folks thought the day would never come. Speaking at Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts in Thornton, Co. this week, the Illinois senator gave a sweeping speech that was a departure from all the pandering and short-on-specifics education talk we heard earlier in the primaries. It was titled "What's Possible for Our Children".
Obama described the American public-education system as "morally unacceptable" and talked about making a "truly historic commitment" to improve it. Some of the highlights included his proposals to train more teachers and pay them better, to make college more affordable for those who commit to public service, and to fix the "broken promises" of the No Child Left Behind law. It's not entirely clear how he plans to pay for some of these proposals. For example, he promised to make community college completely free and offer a $4,000 tax credit to cover two thirds of the tuition at an average public college. He also made this pledge to those who sign up to become teachers: "If you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education."