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Weather Report From The News Room Restaurant

We had lunch today at The News Room, a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, where the news blaring from high-definition TVs was that the Republican convention was being scaled down because of Hurricane Gustav.

Neither President Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney will be coming to St. Paul to address the convention in person tomorrow, as scheduled. That means it's even more unlikely that anyone in St. Paul will utter the phrase "No Child Left Behind".

As some delegates were just arriving in the Twin Cities on Sunday, it was slowly sinking in that the Republican National Convention was not going be anything like what was planned. On the TV screens at The News Room, Republican officials were discussing their decision to limit Monday's opening session to a handful of critical activities, including the adoption of the party platform.

While there, we ran into Jo Marshall, the president of Somerset Community College in Somerset, Ky., and a GOP delegate. After some initial hesitation, she felt more comfortable being interviewed after we assured her that Education Week is an independent publication and not associated with either the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers.

Marshall said many of the students at her school arrive unprepared for higher education and that there needs to be a smoother transition between high school and college, although she thinks states are in a better position to champion that effort than the federal government. And, while she likes the principles behind the No Child Left Behind Act, she hasn't seen strong evidence of the results yet.

Marshall said she hasn't heard either presidential candidate talk much about education in this election, but she praised Sen. John McCain for talking about the importance of bolstering support for community colleges. She hadn't heard Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, mention the issue at all, although she said she wasn't surprised

"After all, he went to Harvard," she said, in reference to where Obama attended law school. (He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University.)

--Alyson Klein and Mark Walsh

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