The prez was on the Today Show this am talkin’ bout education in America with Matt Lauer. He sounded committed to improving education in this country, especially the lowest performing 5% of schools. He also touched on some high profile gifts to schools recently. From USA Today:

“Money without reform will not fix the problems,” Obama said.

The president also called for longer school years, saying that U.S. competitors keep their children in schools for an an average of a month longer. “That month makes a difference,” Obama said, though he added “that’s going to cost some money … That would be money well spent.”

As the child of educators, I am glad to hear it. A lot of politicians pay lip service to education but because reform is difficult, shy away from the challenge of actual change. Yet we know what makes good schools: small classes, teachers with the freedom and creativity to teach, high standards, healthy lunches, good books, art/science/music/sports and safety.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook gave $100 million to Cory Booker and the public schools of Newark. Cory Booker, it is rumored, used to date Oprah’s BFF Gayle King.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence but Oprah has also given $100 million to 6 American schools. Here’s education blog Get Schooled:

On September 20th, The Oprah Winfrey Show took on education in America. Oprah devoted most of the show to showing Waiting for “Superman”, the new education documentary by Davis Guggenheim that shows American kids’ desperate need for better schools.

The show audience’s reaction to the film was stark: “sad,” “outraged,” “distressed,” “unfair,” and even “I can’t believe this is happening in America.” However, Oprah ended on a high note by giving $1,000,000 each to the principals of six leading charter schools across the country that are changing the life trajectories of their students.

These six schools were:

Aspire Public Schools (California)
Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST)
LEARN Charter School Network (Chicago, IL)
Mastery Charter Schools (Philadelphia, PA)
New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy – Sci Academy
YES Prep Public Schools (Houston, TX)

The Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) was one of our six finalists in the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. President Obama gave a commencement speech to students at the winning school. When they were named as a finalist, the principal reacted, “I can’t tell you how exciting this is.”

DSST, a public college prep school with open enrollment, graduated 100% of its first senior class. Overall, 45% of its students are economically disadvantaged, 60% are Hispanic or African-American, and 50% are first generation college bound. Most enter the school at least a grade level behind in math and English.

DSST and the other 5 schools above are just a sampling of schools across the country doing great things for their students. How will you step up and help your local school do the same?

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