An Open Letter To The President And First Lady

Dear President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama,

I am writing due to extreme concerns about the American Public Education System being altered and changed on your watch. I am in my 53rd year as an educator. I entered my first classroom,  as a teacher, in 1961 and have learned at all levels of instruction since that time.

As I analyze the legacy of your time leading this great nation, these specific concerns come to mind:

Prior to your administration a family could move from state-to-state and find basically the same common core of essential skills and age-grade level curriculum wherever they settled. This did not happen by accident. It was the result of great evolving leadership and the need to address the Americanization (socialization) of our youth. This is the concept that built One Nation out of a chaos of divergent views and cultures. Now? Chaos is returning.

Prior to your administration, with few exceptions, public schools were not created as sources of investment income or profit. Schools were run by democratically elected boards under state supervision. Schools were accountable for financial management and academic achievement. A proven (if not100%s effective) means of teacher accountability and school effectiveness was in place and functioning well in areas where great poverty and futility were not generated by our failed economic system.

Prior to your administration, the tax dollars Americans pay for public education could not be accessed by profiteers or religious groups and cults. No taxpayer was forced to support a religion, ideology, or partial school with their education tax dollars.

Sadly, strengthened by your administration, an unproven and false use of testing replaced the tests used by educators to understand student needs and to teach effectively. Data generated by wrong and unproven means is causing great harm to students and teachers throughout America. The only known beneficiaries of this drive for data are the corporations creating the tests, and the egos of billionaires who use their wealth to force their “hunches” on our schools.

Your administration supports those who can buy access to schools and thus children’s minds. Your administration accepts the whims of billionaires who have no certification, little or no contact with professional educators, no concept of the history of American education and how education is delivered, and most devastating, they have very little concern for our children. Almost all send their children to separate schools that do not follow the rules your administration is instigating.

Continuing in your administration, a cardinal rule of education is being violated. Children are being used as the fodder for experiments. Professional Educators do not experiment on children.  Parents do not send their children to school to suffer experiments. Damage is done to tens of thousands of children in the name of reform, change, and profit.

In your administration, the USDOE is responsible for the extreme and poorly thought-out ideologies about data. They have sold out to the profiteers. The DOE has supported the idea that corporations that profit from federal mandates (direct or indirect like RTT), should reform our great American education system. That people with wealth, but little knowledge of education, never vetted, elected, or certified, can devise systems that evaluate educators with student test scores. That experts and those who have done the hard work and learned on the job, are ignored and labeled crybabies. That groups that represent teachers are the enemy. That all kids should be standardized and educated by a cookie-cutter shaped by an unproven and inadequate common core that limits or replaces the teaching of the essential skills.

On your watch teachers have been denigrated by your DOE. This has resulted in a discount of public schools by communities and the lack of support for education techniques and procedures necessary for learning. It is responsible for an increase in discipline problems in our schools due to the, “Teachers are the problem!” message.

As an educator who believes in you and is filled with hope by both of you, these concerns about what is happening to our public schools project a bleak and ugly future for America. I understand the Tea Party take on all of this, but never thought they would win.  As of now, the history books will point out that the demise of a great national public school system was fostered by your administration.

History will show that during your watch, the American Dream and One America were severely damaged. In their place, control  by a wealthy few without qualifications, certification, or experience. An oligarchy motivated by profits, not the needs of America or America’s children. We will read that the destruction of public schools resulted in the end of American Democracy and the power of We The People.

Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle, it is not too late to meet with experienced educators and education historians and counter wrong decisions and the damage done.

Edward F. Berger, Ed.D.


12 responses to “An Open Letter To The President And First Lady”

  1. John Mattox

    I have been saying this same thing for a long time. I entered the world of education in 1971 and have seen the destruction of a once great system. The sending of tax dollars to for-profit organizations instead of spending our same tax dollars improving the management level of education is criminal. The dedicated Teachers who are trained in their craft have been denigrated way too long.

    John T. Mattox, M.Ed.
    Tampa, FL

    1. EdwardBerger

      Thank you John. As a professional, your days are numbered if this takeover of education – for profit, not for kids – continues. Hey, TFA can cover the classrooms. Anyone can teach. TFA kids are terribly damaged as are the children deprived of certified, experienced, proven educators. Jeb Bush has exploited the system for profit. Who needs teachers, classrooms, any form of mentoring or…? Give us the public taxpayer’s dollars, we’ll screw the kids and pocket major bucks.

  2. Lin Herz

    There were charter schools in many states long before the Obama administration. Charter schools are allowed by various states and school systems. It is not federal. I do not like the common core standards. But was a teacher for 37 years. It is not true that states had similar standards or that a child could move from state to state with basically the same “common core” of standards from state to state. In face you are using the words “common core” which is a set of standards set by a national group which states can by into. The testing being done is purchased by states from private enterprise and has nothing to do with anything federal. There are no federal tests. The charter school idea, the profiteering by religious and any organization that wants to start a school is not new. A former President of our teachers union who was in office in the 1970s said Kentucky Fried Chicken could start a charter school called Kentucky Fried Children if charter schools got the legislation. And they did! But this has nothing to do with President Obama. It is my state. Don’t get me wrong. I disagree with many, many ideas spearheaded by Arne Duncan the secretary of Education. And I don’t like the direction the country or most states are going in Education. But let’s not put blame where it does not belong. charter schools are a state by state initiative and are due to legislation passed by states that have them. Many of these ideas have been going on for decades, but getting worse now. But to the best of my knowledge the President is not a supporter o charter schools. Common Core is another story. The purpose was to strengthen standards and let states opt in to a national set so that the standards would be the same in each state. Theoretically it’s a good idea. But the current “Common Core” standards and the way they are being implemented is not the best. Also, states such as Florida, and certain districts are implementing ways of teaching the standards which makes them even harder.

    1. EdwardBerger

      Lin, parts of what you say are correct. I was part of the original charter school movement in Arizona (before it was corrupted). Yes, that predates this administration. Your are partially right that not all states had similar standards, but the similarities in all states were based upon mastery of the essential skills. I stick by my observation that a family could move from state-to-state and find basically the same Americanization processes and curricula. As you taught, I imagine you had some guidelines. I don’t know if you traced their origination and implementation, but almost every state – then including AK and HI – adopted similar curriculum and age appropriate subject matter. Elementary schools were very similar in every state. Jr. High Schools were very similar. High Schools had the widest variety of curriculum and courses, but almost – if not all – taught English, World History, American History, Geography, Math, Sciences, PE, etc.The core of the curricula in America’s schools was widely accepted and implemented.
      Sadly, this administration – which I support in every way I can – has a policy about closing neighborhood schools and opening charters – whether religious, for-profit, or used to re-segregate our schools. Arne Duncan and the USDOE are on record about these destructive issues and there is no question that the Billionaire Boys Club in conjunction with outfits like Pearson, have dictated (really these are mandates with federal force and dollars behind them) the unproven and contaminated Common Core they are trying to jam down every child’s throat. This selective core of facts was created outside of the democratic process and with very few experienced educators providing input at every level.
      Lin, for me the bottom line is: Why has a small group of very wealthy and powerful people who have never been vetted, never elected, never certified, and without teaching experience set out to destroy, not improve and evolve, the greatest education system the world has known? Do you think the Koch Bros and their agenda for ALEC and corporate rule has anything to do with the drive to create an inculcated and uneducated society? Finally, if the Common Core/High Stakes Testing program is so good, why aren’t the tests public so that educators and others can critique them? If it is good enough to be on the test, is is good enough to vet and use in teaching. One answer, and take a look at the SAT and ACT, is that if the tests are known you can not sell these so-called measurements for profit. My advice to parents is to protect your child from this exploitation and attacks on individuality and creativity. Are you familiar with Gates and Murdock’s inBloom? That is part of the package being forced by those who believe in Oligarchy, not Democracy.

  3. An Open Letter To The President And First Lady
    I began teaching in 1963. My career was ended by the corruption in NYC just as I became a celebrated educator and was awarded the NYSEC EDUCATOR OF EXCELLENCE, after my work was studied because Harvard chose me as a cohort for the national standards research. By every rubric I was a successful educator… my students were at the top of every state and city test, and went to the top high schools. Like a hundred thousand other teachers, I was harrassed otu as the UFT stood and watched.

    I thank Diane Ravitch for your letter.
    YOu can find it at OPED where I write.

    Jut google my name and go to my author’s page at this site.
    I recommend my articles “Bamboozle them”, and “Magic Elixir.”

    The speaking as a teacher stie, was an Apple I web site, that I put up just after the assault began, before I knew this was a national conspiracy. I hope you will read my essay NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

    If you explore my comments, too, you will find links to wonderful sites that tell the stories of teachers like myself who were sent packing.

    May I recommend that you go to the site where Lenny Isenberg chronicles the abomination that is the LAUSD school system, and the corruption he fights. He IS a hero…don’t miss this site

    And if you have never been to the NAPTA site ( do go.

    1. EdwardBerger

      Susan, now your experiences and leadership are needed. Diane Ravitch is great, but only if we all support her. Write, speak, communicate with parents and educators. For America, I believe the battle is now or it will never take place.

  4. Dennis James Deegan

    Dear Dr. Berger:

    Thank you for your articulate description of your deep concerns about the Federal/Special Interests takeover of the American education system.

    When you started teaching, I was a junior in high school. I had many great teachers who were free to teach the subjects that they were especially dedicated to. They took creative ownership of how they taught. Mr. Meeker, Sociology teacher put a quotation on the chalk board (everyday). Most days we would talk about it. In the Common Core approach to learning the pressure is so heavy to cover content that a Mr. Meeker would not be able to share some of the thoughts from the keenest minds of history.

    Shameful, that an Oligarchy has usurped the brilliance of free thinking teachers and replaced their creativity and love of learning with a faceless academic parade of information, without heart, without soul, and without freedom but powered by Quasi-Government/ Corporate interests with enormous control of resources, virtually unstoppable momentum, like a steam roller, demanding more and more from our children, teachers and administrators. Honestly, Dr. Berger, I have a simple question: Who put these people in charge of our children’s education? Stop the Common Core. Our Children are not Common. We need a new birth of freedom, not less. I thank you for your statement and I want to do my part to continue to oppose the Federal take over of education.

    I agree with you Sir, the demise of a great American tradition is possible unless the American people wake up to what is going on.

    1. EdwardBerger

      Thank you for the comments Dennis James Deegan,
      Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Obamas read our letters? You ask, who put them in charge? They (think Bill and Melinda Gates and Eli Broad as examples) put themselves in charge – they bought their way in. They were never vetted, elected, certified, experienced, or in any way qualified to do what they have done. They aligned themselves with corporations like Pearson, and allowed Pearson to dictate policies that would sell tests – a multibillion dollar a year scam based on testing. The Corporate Press has shielded these deformers and kept the terrible damage they have done from the public eye. That is changing, but it is up to parents and educators to overcome the Billionaire Boys Club. Diane Ravitch has written a pivotal work and the destruction may be ending … however the battle is only starting. This whole takeover and destruction of the American education system is part of the Nation’s turn from Democracy to Oligarchy.

  5. Ed Johnson


    Your open letter to the President and First Lady deeply resonates. I took the liberty to copy and e-mail it to several hundred people on my list, as I have done with other such letters. Write me at if you’d care to also receive what I e-mailed.

    And I invite you to my open letter to the President at…

    Ed Johnson
    Advocate for Quality in Public Education
    Atlanta GA

    1. EdwardBerger

      Ed Johnson,
      Thank you, I have a remote thought that Michelle or the president will read our letters. Somehow, Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel have a lock on the USDOE and Chicago-type solutions to America’s education reform. They are wrong, but look at what they – with the help of Billy and Melinda and Pearson – have bee able to screw into place.

      The opposition is building. Spreading the word is working. Diane Ravitch is my hero.


  6. Thank you for continuing the reach out the President and the First Lady. I believe, deep in his heart, that President Obama does not support the oppressive educational reforms that have taken hold of public schools, and are described by Finnish educator Pasi Salberg as the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). This week, in a conservative county of Georgia, a couple decided not to allow their elementary aged children to take the state’s high-stakes tests (CRCT). The police showed up a day after the parents informed the school’s principal. The police officer (who, according to the parents was very decent) informed the parents that they would be trespassing if their children walked through the front door. Later, they were informed that they could come to school AFTER the CRCT was given. Also, the older of the two, who is in 5th grade, might not be able to go on an overnight field trip to a state park, until the “issue” is resolved. Although there has been some kind of resolution, it is not clear how the students who did not take the CRCT will be evaluated. Whatever the decision, it will be significant in the movement to stop high-stakes testing.

    1. EdwardBerger

      Jack, thank you for what you do and share. I will read your post and folow you.

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