Misspelling, Questions Plague Obama Education Initiative

Friday, 27 Jul 2012 12:09 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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An executive order signed by President Barack Obama left some scratching their heads over its implications and a misspelling of “America.”

Obama, with Rev. Al Sharpton and other black leaders looking on, signed the executive order on Thursday, which created a special new federal office aimed at improving education for African Americans. The order also created a panel to foster “a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.”

The order, titled “White House Initiative On Educational Excellence,” said, “African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education. African American student achievement not only lags behind that of their domestic peers by an average of two grade levels, but also behind students in almost every other developed nation.”

In announcing the initiative, the White House’s social media team misspelled the word “Americans” in a Facebook post, according to the New York Daily News. “Earlier today, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Amerericans (sic),” the initial post said, according to the Daily News.

The error was quickly pointed out by Facebook users and soon fixed. But the irony of the mistake in an education-related posting was noticed by Facebook users, the Daily News reported: “Looks like they corrected the spelling error on the educational greatness of our own President!” one Facebook comment read.

Other Facebook users, according to the Daily News, attacked the policy for being tailored to blacks. They were not alone, as Dan Luzer of Washington Monthly asked, “This comes as Obama, nearing a close race with Mitt Romney, is eager to shore up black support. What the initiative will actually do, however, remains a little unclear. Are there really any practices that will improve African Americans’ achievement in schools and colleges exclusively? Wouldn’t any practices that improve African Americans’ achievement in schools and colleges also work pretty effectively with all other students?”

According to the National Review, “up to now President Obama has often resisted this sort of blacks-only program (though he has supported other kinds of racial preferences and race-based policies).”

The magazine quoted Obama from a September interview on BET when he answered a question about why he didn’t create more policies specifically targeted at African Americans. “That’s not how America works,” the president replied, “America works when all of us are pulling together and everybody is focused on making sure that every single person has opportunity.”

The National Review added: “But apparently election-year pressures to pander to his base have gotten too strong. And just wait until next term.”
Dave Gibson, writing in the Washington Examiner, said, “While many see this race-based initiative as election-year pandering as Obama seeks to motivate black voters to support his faltering campaign, it is yet another example of blatant racism displayed by this self-described 'post-racial' president.”

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