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Carnival of Education! The Debate Edition

Have you noticed that presidential debates are a bunch of loosely related thoughts haphazardly pulled together? Kind of like this carnival. To pregame tonight’s debate, I let our fine candidates speak. I’ve done my best to give all of them, irrespective of party affiliation, a hard time - though may not have been entirely successful in achieving parity, and for that you will have to forgive me. Snippets of the candidates' real policy plans are drawn from McCain and Obama’s excerpted speeches in this month’s Phi Delta Kappan. Will McCain “whip Obama’s you-know-what?” Only time will tell. Enjoy.

Katie Couric: It may be the last debate tonight, but make no mistake – this election is a win-win situation, at least for me (Successful Teaching). Given the history of race in this country, what role will it continue to play in this election? (Greg Laden) Let’s see who did their homework (Aspire Blog).

The Economy

McCain: As I’ve always said about the economy, my friends, Bubbles are Fun! Mister Teacher thinks so, too.

Obama: But our $30,000 teachers are not driving Rolls Royces, John (Teacher in a Strange Land). No wonder so many people leave the profession (Scheiss Weekly). Also, their students say delightfully titillating things like this (Lightly Seasoned Teacher).

McCain: Teaching, my friends, is among the most honorable professions any American can join….Theirs is an underpaid profession. (He really said that!) And a stressful one – this list of stress reducing tips, my friends, can help (Ed Week Career Corner).

On Education

McCain: My friends, since I’m so busy talking about earmarks, I never talk about education.

Obama: Come to think of it, I am so busy talking about change that I don’t either.

McCain: Here’s some educational inspiration for us, my friends:

* Leader Talk, This I Believe

* Dangerously Irrelevant, Statewide 21st Century Learning System

* Law Vibe, Law Student Leaves Gang Life for School Life

* The Reading Zone, Helping Struggling Readers Find the Perfect Book

* The Tempered Radical, Motivating Middle School Students

* Inside Pre-K, Mayala's Note

And I just read about a newfangled machine that looks a lot like a television that teachers use in classrooms (Needleworks Pictures). So I propose to direct $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools. I’ve heard online learning is kind of like teleworking (Ed Week Digital Education). And with my tax credit, my friends, we’ll get government out of your business so parents can just buy their own kids’ schoolbooks (One Family's Blog).

Obama: The most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge. But do our kids have it anymore? (What It's Like on the Inside) Or do we just treat students as numbers (Miss Profe), test scores (Ed Week Living in Dialogue), and grades (Ed Policy Thoughts)?

We need to make sure that every single student can afford to go to college. As President, I will offer a $4000 tax credit that will cover two-thirds of the tuition at an average public college and make community college completely free. But if you still end up with loans from hosting unruly keggers, ask this guy how to deal with your debt (Money Answer Guy).

McCain: Though the Colossus of Rhodey doesn’t agree with me, my friends, we will pay bonuses to teachers who take on the challenge of working in our most troubled schools – because we need their fine minds and good hearts to help turn those schools around. No longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We will measure it by the success of their students, no matter what Travis at Stories from School says.

Obama: Let’s talk about the Secretary of Education. I’ve found this amazing teacher blogger, Nancy Flanagan, and she’s my pick. Her slogan? “For the teachers, by the teachers.”

McCain: I love me some Mike Bloomberg. But people are still watching to see what Randi Weingarten’s next move will be on term limits (Under Assault and Ed Notes Online).

And a Special Appearance by Sarah Palin and Joe Biden

Palin: Cut the flowery prose, Senator Obama. Teaching is a profession for mavericks (Jose Vilson). You can’t teach poetry as well as my fellow maverick Jim Hansen at Simply Teaching.

Biden: Did I mention that I got my teeth whitened like Paris Hilton’s for free? Don’t try this at home, kids, even if you have an inventor’s box (Diary of 1). Speaking of free, all Carol at Bellringers got was a free book by Peg Tyre. Just like she wrote about the boy crisis, when I was in elementary school, I could never sit still (Angela Maiers). And my lips never stopped flapping.

Palin: Well, in my hometown high school, Joe, they taught us how to put hydraulics on a moose (Nucleus Learning). But the math team was for nerds (Joanne Jacobs). As my math teacher said, “Arithmetic is neither fish nor beast; therefore it must be foul(Let's Play Math) and we must be creating jobs and playing sports. But some girls still get left out of the lockerroom (Ed Week's Learning the Language).

Biden: We’ve got pithy sayings at my small diner in Wilmington, too. Like you’ve got to Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Fake reading, that is. (Ed Week's The Book Whisperer).

Palin: Joe, you betcha you should check out this website on how to speak English like we do in Wasilla (English Trainer). Didya know we leave no child inside school? (Circle Time) Our motto is, “Play, baby, play" (Life Without School).

Man, it’s obvious that I’m not from Washington. In Wasilla, we say it’s downright elitist to say that school is for everyone (Stories from School). Charles Murray has been talking about that, too (Stuart Buck). Though some of the media elite disagree, those East Coast hotbeds of rabid liberalism ought to spend some of their endowments (Great College Advice). Speaking of Left on the Right Coast, Right on the Left Coast had a goshdarn stink to high heaven hogwash of a faculty meeting this week.

Biden: Did I mention Scranton yet? It’s rough and tumble, and teachers’ staplers get stolen all the time (A Voice Cries Out).

Palin: Joe, did you hear that NYC Educator got schooled, just like I have for the last six weeks! I’ve been so busy reading up that I didn’t have time to review these tips before my parent-teacher conferences (Kidney Garden). But I’ve taken Larry Ferlazzo’s advice, and it’s time I learn not to let others control me. And Old Andrew taught me a thing or two about ethics and education in an Alaska minute.

Katie Couric: Americans can sleep easy tonight knowing that the presidential candidates have spent so much time boning up on the edu-blogosphere. Who needs economic and foreign policy when we’ve got bloggers and Google Reader?

I love a good argument! Wonderful carnival, and thanks for including my post.

Did Eduwonkette totally rock the Carnival? You betcha!

Thanks for an amazing ride, and for inserting my blog into the debate.

Of course the Eduwonkette rocks! Absolutely loved the format! Thanks for including me.

p.s. Hey, shouldn't we get some sort of parting gift bag with free stuff? ;-)

Thank you so much for including me in your Carnival of Education!

You put a lot of time and effort into this one! Good job!

Nancy Flanagan is too nice to say so, but she's the brilliant author of the blog "Teacher in a Strange Land," which resides in a TypePad account with other blogs written by Teacher Leaders Network teacher. Someone has to "own" the account and that would be John. Er, me.

Wish I WAS as smart as Strange Land's teacher!

Excellent carnival, I loved the debate!

Wow! This looks awesome and I can't wait to read all of them. Thank you for including my article! You are so creative and put a lot of time and thought into this so I really appreciate all your hard work!

Great carnival and theme! that was really interesting to read!
My article wasn't included though. :(
Miss Amanda

Good job! I read through the debate and was completely silent until *this moment* (just following Bob Schieffer's request), when I'll say GREAT JOB!

(insert applause here)


Excellent format, as stated by everyone. I totally agree. There is a flair for these carnivals that keeps me coming back. I enjoy the exposure to the great thinking out there in blog-world and it helps to have a laugh. Thanks for including my posts in the debate.

We need more discussions like yours! What we need is to focus on basic principles and the logical consequences. What are the basic principles of each candidate? Are their statements valid logical extensions of their principles? The idea of basic principles must be used in education.

Wonderful debate!

I'm glad that Obama is so far ahead that he doesn't have to respond to Ayers' charges with counter-charges about Charles Keating.

But the whole story of Keating is so wierd that the edublogshere might enjoy it. Even if Charles Keating was a “nasty, fraudulent guy,’ and even if he and McCain were the closest friends in the “Keating Five,” I owe him. Keating of one of the businessmen who propelled me from higher academics into inner city teaching!

I was writing a book on corporate crime in Oklahoma City when my neighborhood was wiped out by the banking collapse (prompted by the lack of regulation during faith based initiative of Supply Side Economics), the Reagan HUD scandal, and the Savings and Loan debacle. The 300 abandoned houses in our neighborhood attracted the Hoover Set of the Los Angeles CRIPS and we became the city’s epicenter of crack. When I walked my dog, children ran out of the crack houses to pet Loki, and soon I was teaching them gardening, and before long I became a teacher.

Keating also made his mark in Oklahoma City by funding the Citizens For Decent Literature. They drove a pink “Smutmobile” to bookstores, harassing them for “indecent” literature, as well as participating in “the Purge” of gay people.

There is an interesting footnote that foreshadowed the Keating style of intimidation that eventually cost taxpayers $120 billion. Back then, our development was orchestrated by a handful, known as “the oligarches,” using a trust financing schemes that were a triple version of conflict of interest. A banker and union leaders filed a challenge that went all of the way to the State Supreme Court. Back then, the High Court was bribed routinely and I have assembled a strong case that bribery switched the 5 to 4 outcome.

Interestingly, along with Keating, the local donors for the Citizens for Decent Literature included building contractors who would have lost their sweet deal if the Court had not approved of trust financing. And guess who was the prime target of the anti-smut crusaders. The only person who they seriously tried to convict of a felony was the vice president of a regional book distribution company who was the son of the banker who challenged trust financing. FYI, there attorney who was reputed to have more leverage with the corrupt Supreme Court was also reputed to be one of the models for the crazed general in Dr. Strangelove.

Hope this is appropriate. But if this part of the Keating story doesn't fit here, were would it?

I am voting for you! WOW-what a wonderful debate you create! I can not wait to dig into all of the issues and explore new voices! It is an honor to be included in the dialogue! Great job!!

It took me a while to figure out what was going on here and then I got it. What a great and creative way to do the blog for the Carnival of Education! Thanks for including my entry.

I enjoyed this thoroughly. Thanks for including me in the debate. I'm Jose Vilson and I approve this message.

As I was watching the final debate the other day, I didn't hear very much about education. They went back and forth about early education issues and school vouchers, which do not even scrap the surface of the issues American schools face. I decided to record a video blog about a few issues. I read each candidate's plan for education, I was impressed by both candidates; however, any real issues were left out. First of all, Obama recommends that we should implement a diversity of assessments which measure higher-order thinking skills including technology, research skills, scientific investigation. McCain recommend we assess individual student gains. He adds that we have to get away from comparisons across groups, or group averages. Mr. Obama's plan leads me to believe that we will be adding new areas of assessments of standardized testing, rather than replacing the existing assessments. Standardized testing is the problem! Changing the type rather than the number of assessments given throughout the course of a school year is not a solution. No standardized assessment can evaluate a child's skills, especially when they are biased. I think McCain is on point with his plan to focus on individual student achievement. I believe we should focus on teaching kids to mastery, making sure that each child has mastered the standards. Children should also play a key role in evaluating their own success on standard mastery. Children must recognize their strengths and weaknesses and devise a plan that will help them focus their energies on the precise areas of improvement. Students are given credit for what they already know, rather being re-taught material they have already mastered, as indicated in pre-assessments. Many teachers do not run their classroom based on mastery of specific objectives/standards, but employ a one-size fit all approach to teaching. Those students who have mastered the subject, are bored to death, when they could be working on standards in which they are struggling. That is in today's education system, which is still stuck in the Industrial Age. I believe that many of today's standards across states and nationally are socially irrelevant to what children really need to compete in a globally flat world. I believe that our children should be taught new standards, based on the advances in technology and new trends in the job markets. I strongly believe that we need to make writing the center of all instruction across every subject matter due to the importance of writing in every industry across America. Writing should be emphasized, rather than forced out of curriculums, due to increased pressures to make AYP in math, science, and reading. According to the National Commission on Writing, 82% of teens don’t feel that enough class time is devoted to writing. The future of the Information Age is blogging and technical writing. Our children must develop these important communication skills, especially evaluating credible sources. Children should also be taught Chinese and Hindi, instead of Spanish and French. These languages are becoming more important in a globally flat world, and we need to swiftly change our American education system to reflect this major shift. Most American children can only speak one language. Hispanic children, should especially learn Chinese and Hindi, and also learn to read and write effectively in Spanish. Presidential candidates use that flowery language to make us feel good about education, but I am here to discover the truth. What will they really do about the Achievement Gap and the Digital Divide? Should educators wait for government to reform education, or should we take active steps to reform education on our own. There is power in numbers and power in social networking. I believe that through collaboration and information sharing, we can change the education system and help our children to become more successful in their futures. We need to implant the desire to learn and investigate in all American children and focus on rewarding children for what they know, rather than how much they know compared to X students. Every child has his or her own individual strengths, and we should begin to recognize those strengths, help them recognize their strengths, and encourage them to build their strengths, while also helping them meet the minimum basic standards across the board. What do you think? Rachel Kenyata Armour AKA Kenyata Truth, Founder and President, Choices i Control Academic Program, Inc. Thanks for the article.

Great debate! Thanks for the format it is a creative spin on things and I really enjoyed it!


You state, "Many teachers do not run their classroom based on mastery of specific objectives/standards, but employ a one-size fit all approach to teaching. Those students who have mastered the subject, are bored to death, when they could be working on standards in which they are struggling. That is in today's education system, which is still stuck in the Industrial Age."

Beyond your argument for students who have already mastered the subject being bored there are also students in the same class who are experiencing problems and eventually become overwhelmed. Of course these are the kids who are in danger of dropping out.

For our schools to continue with this absurd paradigm is an oxymoron in the era of EDUCATION REFORM. How can we contend we have reform in our schools with little or no pedagogical change? When are these classrooms going to become student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered?

Dear Paul:

I agree that there are children who are struggling, but I say that boredom is the problem across the board. One thing I do is use hip-hop, video games, pop culture--things which interest students, and apply the standards to teach them English and other subjects. Kids just need to make a connection to the material. If they are bored, then they will never make the connections necessary to excel in any subject. I agree that classrooms must be student-centered. My approach to teaching is student-centered. I empower students to take control of their own education. Each child is equipped with the state standards, and checks off each standard as they are mastered. Students create their own agendas based on this rubric. Students must become aware of what they know and don't know and take the first steps to self-mastery. As an educator, I cannot force a child to learn, I must spark their interest and lead them in the right direction. I must implant the idea that learning is fun, exciting, and desirable. I think we need to ask children how they want to be taught, and help them draw up an academic plan of action. They should create their own projects, conduct research, and create their own tests and quizzes. This is higher-ordered thinking. Who decides what is standard or not? Why do we limit our children? Why can't 1st graders learn college biology? Who says they can't learn it. Who really knows the power of the human mind? It is our limitations that we place on students and the lowering of expectations which is stifling our children's growth and development. Kids need to be taught HOW to learn. It is not what they learn, but how they learn. They can apply these principles to any area in their lives in and out the classroom.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Kenyata Truth: Dear Paul: I agree that there are children who are read more
  • Paul Hoss: Kenyata, You state, "Many teachers do not run their classroom read more
  • Josey Blessin: Great debate! Thanks for the format it is a creative read more
  • Rachel Kenyata Armour: As I was watching the final debate the other day, read more
  • Jose: I enjoyed this thoroughly. Thanks for including me in the read more




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