Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Barack Obama is not George W Bush. That fact alone will guarantee him an avalanche of support and goodwill. Thousands of tearful Americans at the inauguration? For once it isn't hype and hyperbole, showbiz has been suspended. For the first few decades after it opened the only blacks allowed into the White House were slaves. Forty years ago some southern states still retained the notorious Miscegenation Acts, which outlawed marriage between black and white people.
There's a tendency to shout 'sell-out' from the rooftops before the incumbent has been inaugurated. However, Obama's campaign was long on rhetoric and generalities but short on specifics. On the health crisis, where 50 million working Americans are uninsured, he managed to outline a programme that was even more timid than Hilary Clinton's. The multi-million insurance companies covered all the bases by bankrolling both Bush's campaign and Obama's.
In education Obama supported Bush's misnamed 'No Child Left Behind Act'; if you though testing was bad in this country in America any school that doesn't reach national targets faces closure. The results of all this? The familiar teaching to test, narrowed curriculum and rampant cheating to avoid failure.Will Obama tackle the uneven property taxes, which ensure that a child in inner-city Chicago has $7,000 per annum spent on their education compared to $20,000 in the wealthy suburbs?
Teachers pay in America is set by the local school boards, so in many cases it is derisory, just one reason why its teachers are recruited from the lowest 30% of university graduates.
Obama has the hopes of the world resting on his slim shoulders, let's hope he doesn't flunk the test.