One of the most disturbing things I heard today during a press conference about state budget conditions was this: the economic downturn in many states could last three or four years. That's about as long as the next president's first term. Even if the national economy takes an unexpected upward swing, states are always slower to come out of slumps. Ray Scheppach, the executive director of the National Governors Association, explained that it's because states typically don't feel the negative impact from unemployment (which means fewer dollars coming in from income taxes) until months after job losses hit their peak. ...


Sen. Barack Obama visited a community college in Michigan yesterday to talk about college affordability, reiterating his plans for a $4,000-a-year tax credit to help pay tuition. (I posted his speech below.) More affordable, two-year community colleges, which are often overshadowed by their four-year counterparts in higher ed, can be an important part of the solution, the Illinois Democrat and presumptive presidential nominee has said. And his education plan even includes a fair amount about how he would beef up community colleges. While Obama is talking about making it easier for students to go to college, states are making ...


So it looks like David Brooks' commentary on Sen. Barack Obama's education proposals generated quite a bit of debate among New York Times readers. The paper published four letters-to-the-editor today responding to Brooks' question about whether the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee falls into the education "reform" or "status quo" camps in the Democratic Party, as represented by the signers of a statement from the Education Equity Project and the "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education," respectively. (You can read all about those statements, and Obama's decision to essentially endorse both of them, in my colleague David Hoff's Edweek story). Some of ...


Rep. Timothy J. Walz, D-Minn., a freshman and former teacher who won his seat in an upset victory in 2006, is co-sponsoring a bill that would suspend the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, according to my colleague, David Hoff, over at NCLB Act II. If that sounds like a bold move for someone facing a potentially tough re-election battle ... it actually, well, isn't. At least two of the three Republicans vying to take on Walz in the general election have said they would scrap the NCLB law, according to this news report. Still, it's telling that, ...


Joel Packer isn't the only new face on this blog. Frequent contributing blogger Alyson Klein is now officially a part of Campaign K-12. We will share the duties of blogging about the presidential election, plus Congressional, state and local races. Alyson is a federal beat reporter at EdWeek who manages to add some spice to the world of the federal budget (by, for example, talking about the science of ice skating in an otherwise routine budget story!) She's has already offered valuable insight (and a lot of ellipses...) on this blog—on everything from the West Wing TV show imitating ...


The New York Times' David Brooks sounds very much like John McCain's education adviser Lisa Graham Keegan when he challenges Sen. Barack Obama's plans for education reform in an op-ed piece that appears today. Yesterday, Keegan laid out the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's vision for reporters, and said he shouldn't apologize for not having unveiled his education plan yet. "It's very easy to write a detailed program for an old system," Keegan said in criticizing Obama's plan, which has been on his Web site for months. Brooks makes a similar point: "He proposes dozens of programs to build on top ...


Sen. John McCain's education adviser, Lisa Graham Keegan, sat down today with several reporters for a rapid-fire Q-and-A session hosted by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and she laid out the most details yet about the Arizona Republican's plans for the No Child Left Behind Act. And yes, a more formal education plan is coming, she said, but not until "back-to-school" time in the fall, when people are listening. I'll go into more detail in a bit, but I wanted to highlight two important things I thought Keegan said. First, McCain's plan to freeze discretionary federal spending applies to education ...


For the American Federation of Teachers, Hillary Clinton's concession on Saturday means that it's time for the union to repair any lost love and throw its full support behind Barack Obama. Although the Obama campaign will certainly appreciate the AFT's organized foot-soldiers, the union will have to work a little harder to wield any influence since it spent the last several months aligned with Clinton—and is a late-comer to the Obama bandwagon. Unlike the National Education Association, at least the AFT endorsed a candidate when it still mattered....


Now that we know who will be squaring off in this presidential race, it seems relevant to examine more closely the differences between the candidates. For a good summary of what we know so far, check out my colleagues' story in this week's issue of EdWeek. Campaign K-12 blogger Alyson Klein wasn't able to squeeze everything from her notebook into the story, so this blog seemed a good place to add some additional perspective on the National Education Association's better-late-than-never endorsement, especially since it involves Joel Packer (the man with ALL of the answers!) Alyson writes:In its endorsement, the ...


Today, Sen. Barack Obama delivered a major speech on the economy and offered this education tidbit: "I’ll be talking in more detail next week about how we can make our workforce more competitive by reforming our education system, but there’s also an immediate squeeze we need to deal with, and that’s college affordability." He reiterated his plan to give $4,000 a year in tax credits for tuition, but I'm most intrigued by any new ideas he'll have next week to link education reform with the economy. Stay tuned here for updates next week....


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