Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:00 Nicholas Ballasy Videos

President ObamaPresident-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle “have every right” to send their children to public or private school, and no one should “criticize” their decision, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said in an interview with on Monday at the National Press Club.

In the nation’s capital, the amount spent per student, on average, in the public schools is $24,600 per year, according to education expert Andrew Coulson at the libertarian Cato Institute.

“That is a very, very, personal decision that the president-elect and soon-to-be first lady should make and should make in the best interest of their children, and no one should be critical of whatever decision they make. I’m sure they’re going to make the best decision for their children. I feel very strongly about that,” Vilsack said.

“That is their number one responsibility despite all of the enormous job (sic) he’s undertaken and will undertake here on January 20. He loves those two children, and he’s going to make sure that they are properly educated, and that’s really a personal decision, and it really shouldn’t be subject to criticism or comment in my view.”

The No Child Left Behind Act was discussed during the press conference. Critics of the act have argued that it is under-funded. Weingarten told that the lack of funding is only part of the problem.

“The assessment system or the accountability system that was put into place has had the negative consequence of narrowing the curriculum and of making lots and lots of schools into test prep factories,” she said. “So, it’s more than just the money.”

Weingarten said the funding is necessary. But in states like New York, her home state, “a combination of things” must be done, she said.

“It is has to be a re-thought accountability system as well, and we have to put the tools into place so that teachers can actually do their jobs, because what happens is teachers get demeaned and blamed when they don’t have the wherewithal to do their jobs,” she said.

“They then become really despairing because they, more than anybody, want to make a difference in the lives of kids,” Weingarten added.

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