President Obama at Miami Central High School today

Watch his speech live on the White House website at 4 p.m.

The topic is Winning the Future through Education.

The other day your blogger listened in on a White House briefing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Melody Barnes, head of the president’s Domestic Policy Council, going over the aims of the trip to Miami and visiting Central High in company of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who’s not usually found in the pro-Obama camp.

Duncan said Central was part of a national program to turn around schools with poor records, and that the school had received $790,000 in federal funds, part of a $3.5 billion national budget, to support extra programs and staff.

Asked about Bush’s heavy stress on standardized tests, Duncan said the Obama administration preferred to look at multiple ways to measure school performance, not just what he called “bubble tests.” The education secretary said the White House had suggested that Jeb Bush join them at Central High, as the president wants his education program to be seen as non-ideological, bipartisan, working across the aisle.

UPDATE: Here’s a Miami Herald feature on the progress at Central High since it started in the program. It sounds as if a big part of the problem is how to register progress among students who are already way behind grade level when they reach high school. The smart and ambitious kids are as good here as at any other school, but everyone has to go out eventually and make a living.

And here’s an Op-Ed by Arne Duncan in the Miami Herald. I approve his drift in saying the idea is to do better than the No Child Left Behind program of the George W. Bush administration. Duncan calls that “tireless tinkering” that still denied millions of children the chance to go on to college and a good career.


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