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Obama Endorses 'Broader' and 'Equality' Statements

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On Friday, David Brooks asked which one of last week's statements on education policy Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., would endorse. Would it be the one that called for a "broader, bolder approach" or the Education Equality Project's call to ramp up school accountability?

I wondered the same thing. I exchanged e-mails with Danielle Gray, the deputy policy director of the Obama campaign (thanks to Alyson Klein for the introduction).

Here's what I found out (other than Gray reads Campaign K-12): Sen. Obama likes both statements. (You can read Gray's comments and the rest of my reporting on both statements in the story that will appear in this week's issue of Education Week.)

Alexander Russo will probably point to Gray's comments as supporting his theory that Obama is a pragmatist who tells people what they want to hear. But it's hard to imagine a Democratic presidential candidate saying anything different. All those who signed the Education Equality Project's statement told me that they supported expanding health care, early childhood education—and all of the other things listed in the "broader, bolder" statement. The central question is whether policymakers should expect more from schools without those additional supports. That's a tough one for Democrats to answer—and one I expect will take longer than this election cycle for the party to sort out.

4 Comments

In the story you wrote a comment from Ms. Ladd saying, "We need to work on these other fronts as well,” in an interview, referring to the call for better health services for children and high-quality preschool, after-school, and summer program.
Here's the part that is missing from all of this....federal, state, and local dollars are given to millions of agencies in the way of grants or programs to provide for medical, educational, psychological, free breakfast and lunches, GED programs, free college tuitions (Georiga Hope), and even the dental needs of some of the children. Now, what seems to have happened is that we have all of these agencies that "carved its niche" in our society and even made a business of it. However, one of the problems that I see is that nobody is putting all of the pieces together, because in a nation that appears to embrace bureaucracy more than democracy at times, the end always seems to justify the means. It will require a paradigm shift for all of us to realize that parents must be held accountable, and the majority of parents do want to be part of the process to ensure their child a better future. Parents are a key piece in the educational puzzle. However, it is the piece that folks keep looking at trying to figure out where it fits.

It is not surprising at this point that Senator Obama would express support for both positions released last week and he would likely say the same if the proponents of the "global competiveness" agenda (Bill Gates, Eli Broad, et al) issue a stand alone statement to fill out the parameters of the debate. All of these positions have some degree of merit.

The more important consideration is whether he agrees with David Brooks that the "Broader Bolder" position is truly the "status quo" position implying that education reform is a zero sum game that pits raising test scores in math and reading against seriously dealing with childhood poverty, and access to quality health care, early care and pre-school.

I think Kathy is right with regard to both the prevalence of services and their inability to coordinate. I think she is also right about parents wanting a role in improving their child's outcomes. The problem is that parents have to spend so much time providing case management between all those uncoordinated, and uncommuncating systems.

I think any candidate will agree to any statement at this time since it is a soft selling point that will maybe get them votes. I have followed "School Accountability" candidates for decades and they all pan out the same. Get me the job and then I can ignore school issues as they are not going to keep me in office until a year or so before the next election. Come on folks reality check here!We have had NCLB for years now and the Feds have taken money away every year and when you add that to the Special Ed costs the Feds lay on school districts lets face it there may come a day when only special ed students are attending schools since there is no general fund money available to cover regular students it is all eaten up by state and federal unfunded special ed mandates. Now lets get a candidate to say they will fully fund all these Special Ed mandates and do it and they may be believable. Until then it is the usual pre-election Presidential Election psycho-babble as usual and nothing can be believed.
As far as parents go those that believe in education will do all they can for their kids and those that don't just see it as free baby sitting. I serve in a district where every winter parents pull kids from school and hight tail it to Mexico for the Christmas break and keep the kids out for 6-8 weeks or more. Do they care? NO Do they do the work we make up for them to keep their kid on track NO, do they think grades are important NO, Why? because they are here to make their fortunes and go home and I cannot say as I blame them. You want education to get better in the US help Mexico develop a minimally corrupt government and thriving economy so people can stay with their families like we all want to do and not have to come to the US to make a basic living. Then we will have money to work on helping our kids get better educations and help not only the poorest of the children but those that are high achievers that are always overlooked in school planning and maybe, just maybe we can develop a really good system of education for ALL students.
IF that is too much get rid of NCLB all together and develop a nationalized system of education and a national license so teachers can move from state to state freely with out having to have all this silly protectionist nonsense that is in education today.
Best of luck to all

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  • Dan Turner: I think any candidate will agree to any statement at read more
  • Margo/Mom: I think Kathy is right with regard to both the read more
  • Bob Murphy: It is not surprising at this point that Senator Obama read more
  • Kathy: In the story you wrote a comment from Ms. Ladd read more

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