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Democratic Response on Education? Silence


During President Bush's State of the Union, he touted a re-packaged $300 million "Pell Grants for Kids" program that would essentially give scholarships or vouchers to help low-income students trapped in failing schools. And he again touted the No Child Left Behind Act, which will become—for better or for worse—his education legacy.

Yet the Democratic candidates' official responses didn't touch the subject of education. In his official response, Sen. Barack Obama didn't address education. Neither did Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York or former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. And even Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who isn't in the presidential race but delivered the Democratic Party's "official response" didn't address the issue (and she's chairwoman of the Education Commission of the States). UPDATE: Sebelius has just announced she's endorsing Obama.

But depending on your perspective, silence can be a good thing.


In the State of the Union speech, Bush, once again, claimed that NCLB has worked: “no one can deny its results… Reading scores are on the rise.”

A few minutes glance at the actual test scores shows that NCLB has not done well. Not a single article in the media mentioned this, and as you pointed out, none of the Democrats even mentioned education.

Scores on the national NAEP reading test for fourth graders have gone up very slightly since NCLB was implemented, and there has been no improvement on eighth grade scores. This is bad news for NCLB, because so much extra time is now devoted to reading instruction in many schools.

American fourth graders made no gains on the international PIRLS reading test between 2001 and 2006. Bush also failed to mention that the gap between students from high- and low-income families was unchanged.

I'm not sure how Bush can simultaneously champion NCLB and call for a voucher program to send kids to schools not bound by the testing requirements. Does he want kids to get tested or doesn't he? I'm not sure he has a clue what effective education is all about.

Great post, as usual, Michele.

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