Obama’s performance on education, considered early on to be one of his strengths, has slipped in the public’s eye, although it certainly shouldn’t be considered a weakness.
Politifact.com gives positive marks to 14 of the 20 education promises that Obama made on the campaign trail. But only three were ranked as a “promise kept.” Those were expanding funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners; providing affordable, high-quality child care; and recruiting math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession. (The latter pledge hit close to home last week when University of Colorado at Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano was among the leaders of only four universities nationwide invited to the White House to pledge support for addressing the national shortage of math and science teachers.)
Only one of Obama’s campaign promises was rated as a “promise broken”: doubling funding for after-school programs.
The 11 pledges that Politifact.com ranked as “in the works” — compared to only two rated as “stalled” — means that by this measure at least, he is making slow but sure progress.
A Dec. 3-6 Ipsos Public Affairs poll showed that 49 percent of respondents believe Obama is doing a satisfactory job on education, compared to the 22 percent who said he is not — a significant drop in approval since he took office. In a similar poll conducted last February, 61 percent had rated him as satisfactory on education, and only 11 percent described his performance as unsatisfactory.
On the higher education front, perhaps one of the most visible and heartening changes Obama has made has been simply to clear out the Bush administration’s air of anti-intellectualism on scientific issues like climate change, a field in which findings were twisted, suppressed and/or undermined for political purposes under Obama’s predecessor.