Obama, swine flu, and sexting, oh my!

A countdown of the top education stories of 2009 and what they mean to you.

By GreatSchools Staff

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7. Is Obama your mama?

Well, no, but this year he became a parentis ex machina nonetheless. First our papa in chief seemed to cast some sort of archetypal mojo after a study found that African Americans tested higher in the wake of his election — aka the much hyped "Obama effect." The study had serious flaws, so until more research is done, it's worth regarding the president's magic with some skepticism.

Then he raised consciousness (and hecka hackles) with his direct addresses to the nation's children: Aim high, do your homework, and never ever vote Republican (just kidding!). Finally, he exposed his daughter Malia's less-than-stellar grade on a science test — should humiliating your tween really count as a teachable moment? — to drive home the point that no parents get a free ride, even when they have the planet's most influential job.

Obama's attention to the profound impact of parental involvement, and not just to professional educators' "race to the top," is heartening. As parents, no matter what budget cuts and bureaucratic crises hit our schools, we still need to stay focused on what we can do: Help our kids day in and day out learn, grow, and think.

What's next — homework tips straight from the Oval Office? Last time we checked, the handle for "mrpresident" was still available on the GreatSchools Parent Community.