At last: a little bit of common sense on education from an office-seeker.

It shouldn’t be news when a politician speaks plain common sense about education, but it is.

Obama on 60 Minutes

When we’re having education debates here in Washington, my positions are informed by having tried to figure out how to fundamentally change the way that we finance public education at the state level. It’s informed by work that I’ve done as a community organizer in inner city classrooms. And so I end up recognizing that we need more money to fix our schools, but we also need a transformation in attitudes.

And in Washington, that’s typically framed as a “either/or” proposition. You know, the conservative position is we don’t need more money; we just need to blow up the bureaucracy. You know, on the left, sometimes the sense is we just need more money, and we and our problems will be solved. When you have actually been in these schools and worked with these parents and talked to the teachers and sat down in a meeting with principals who are trying to figure out how to hold this thing together, then you realize that it’s not an “either/or” proposition.

It’s both/and. You know, parents need to do a better job of parenting. Teachers need to do a better job teaching. Some of the anti-intellectualism that exists in the African-American community and Latino communities and low-income communities has to change. And the federal government’s got to put more money, because the fact is that they don’t have enough resources.

[Note: “It’s both/and” is my emendation; the transcript has the nonsensical “It’s both ends.”]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: