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Dispatch from the Vice-Presidential Shopping Mall...

...otherwise known as the National Governors' Association just-concluded winter meeting, which I staffed in hopes of getting a good story about initiatives underway by governors to improve public schools.

Instead, I wrote this story for EdWeek: "Education Gets Short Shrift at Governors' Winter Meeting."

So, what's on the governors' minds? Other really important things, like health care, the "real ID" federal identification mandate, the federal economic stimulus package and clean, affordable energy. And then, of course, attendees and the governors at this Washington D.C. conference talked about who's endorsing whom for president and whether any of these heads-of-state might get picked as a vice presidential running mate.

Any hopes I had that education would emerge as a top-tier issue on the presidential scene were dashed. After all, if the governors aren't talking about schools—and about half of their state budgets go for K-12 and higher education—then who will?

Even the only meeting of the education committee on Sunday was sparsely attended by the governors. Of the 14 governors on the committee (and nearly all were in attendance at the overall meeting) only six sat through most of the two-hour session on turning around low performing schools. Props go to: Republican Gov. Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island (the committee chairman); Democrat Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma; Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat; Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican; Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

Missing-in-action for most or all of the meeting were: Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican; Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat; and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, also a Democrat. Idaho Gov. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, didn't attend the meeting at all because he's recovering from surgery. Also on the committee (and not attending all or most of it) were the governors of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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