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Obama vs. McCain: The Budget Battle Lines Are Drawn

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Even in the face of a federal bailout of the financial services industry that could cost $700 billion, Sen. Barack Obama strongly suggested in tonight's debate that he would not want education to be sacrified because of it.

Moderator Jim Lehrer's question, which focused on how the uber-expensive bailout would affect their proposals, allowed the candidates to stake out their budget priorities. Sen. John McCain said he would further rein in spending--a spending freeze his advisers have said applies to education. Obama said some things would suffer, but not energy independence, health care, education, and electricty infrastructure.

Specifically, Obama--who listed education third in his list of priorities--said: "We have to make sure our children are competing in math and science." In addition, he said college must be affordable. In all, he wants to spend an additional $18 billion on education.

And a little later, Obama said he would prefer to see more investments in early education rather than subsidies to private companies that participate in Medicare.

Obama's answer tonight seems to put to rest--at least for now--the good question my co-blogger Alyson posed earlier this week in her post: "Would Bailout Affect Obama's Education Spending Plan?" Of course, making a promise in a debate and following through as president are two different things.

1 Comment

Great blog here! I'm so pleased to have found you. While I'm very glad that Obama is committed to education on so many levels, I would love to see a discussion that's still neglected in the public sphere: What is education for? While I agree that we must improve science and math education (and literacy, too!), improvement in these areas isn't evidence of success. Rather, such skills provide tools for success. I believe that it is only when we ask what education is for that we can really change our educational systems dramatically for the better.

I think that the purpose of education ought to be providing a generation with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be engaged citizens who solve the pressing issues of our time creatively and successfully so that we build a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world. Students need to be taught about relevant global issues (which can be infused in the curricula) so that they can be informed, aware choicemakers and "solutionaries" for a better world as well as for enriching, meaningful personal lives.

This is what I have dedicated my life to as the co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education, and what I would like to see our political leaders address in practical terms.


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