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Education in the Presidential Campaigns

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With the presidential primaries approaching, the candidates are ramping up their efforts to reach out to voters. A recent Education Week article examines how the education records of three of the candidates with gubernatorial experience have influenced their presidential campaigns.

As education fights for a place in this presidential campaign, issues such as the war in Iraq, the economy, and health care continue to dominate the political debate.

Do you think the candidates are focused enough on education in this race? If not, what should the candidates be talking about when it comes to public schools?

35 Comments

No they aren't focused enough on education.
Readers should check out: edin08.com
and
Mass Insight Education and Research Institute at:
http://www.buildingblocks.org/
and check out the Turn Around Challenge Report

Thank you for the post! Happy New Year!!

Presedential candidates need to focus on helping students love learning for their own best futures.

They need to prioritize schooling as the best path for our country's future in a highly competitive global marketplace.

Science needs to be reestablished as a high priority for all citizens to prepare for a better future and to combat the negative attitudes that have permiated the country about science and scientists during the past seven years.

Students need to be reminded that they are primarily responsible for their own futures. Stop blaming teachers for the lack of education--it is a personal responsibility to all of America's youth to become educated no matter where they come from or what life has handed them!

Presidential candidates and the president him/herself will have very little impact on education regardless of the position they take on it now. If you want more unfunded mandates just keep belly-aching that the federal government needs to be more involved to improve education. The real answer is that when local communities make education a priority and communicate the value of education to their young people by the things theysay, the things they do, and the way they prioritize their spending the quality of education will increase. Stop looking for answers from the government -- they don't have any.

I agree with Steve--our country is losing its edge because we do not focus on math and science educations. We will not be able to compete in a global market where many of our current jobs are being outsourced to India and China because their technology and work ethic is becoming superior to that of the US. Our leaders tend to be lawyers while leaders in other countries are educated as engineers, etc.


Children are our most important human resource and we as a nation should be making education our number one priority.We should be repairing our schools not only physically but academically to produce a better learning environment for these children. This would enable them to compete in a very competitive world.This is the US. What is wrong with this picture?

As a teacher/educator in career and technical education, I encourage all of our graduates to become members of the TAJ CORPS> Teachers are the second most influential person in the eyes of a student and it is high time they exercise their influence on the political scene. We encourage all teachers to become journalists. We believe they must locate and promote politicians who share their views on education. The best way to do this is a regular campaign via “letters to the editor”. Let's tell it like it is.

What will or will they not do? What will she or he do about low educational funding, low teacher wages, and so forth? So far, little to nothing is being said - but it is not so much what is said now as what will happen afterwards. Too, I am very concerned that not nearly enough attention is being paid to teaching our students World History, Social Studies, English Literature, and American Government and Comparative Religions. If we are to get along with our world neighbors (avoid bloodshed), our students need to be taught more of these type of courses - not so much science and math!

Everyone who has commented here is absolutely correct. Why aren't there more educators involved in the planning process? Don't we,as educators, know what works and what does not? I hope they get rid of NCLB. One program does not fit everyone especially with the scope of our diversified students. Reading First was quite successful in our district and now they are cutting its funding. Again, why aren't there more educators involved in these decisions???????

I believe it is hard for candidates to become involved without a supportive constituency. In fact, the government does have a strong interest in the outcomes of education--as a part of maintaining a healthy business climate, ensuring protection from foreign poweres, many of what are considered to be legitimate powers of government. In addition, the federal government, through the back door of providing funding to ensure equal opportunity has developed particular leverage in the area of education.

One difficulty in attacking the problems of poorly distributed resources in education is that either all boats must rise to the level of those at the top (an expensive proposition), or resources must be redistributed. Neither of these solutions is palatable to many of those who wield the most political pressure. Add to it the specialized interests of those employed in the field, along with a few others such as those at the bottom with some level of organization, and you have the morass in which NCLB reauthorization is now sinking.

While we desperately need leadership in the area of building competetiveness globally, it would appear that the most we are likely to have bolstered by this campaign will be universal pre-school. It's not a bad step, but it does not move forward any of the aims (whether you like the strategies or not) of No Child Left Behind.

One of my concerns, is that all the candidates are supporting universal pre-school, and although as an educator, I am not against pre-school, I am against regimented, test focused teaching at this level. It is too indoctrinating and children need nurturing and cooperative play activities not academic measurable facts. My fear is that we will just push requirements on these young ones who need time to explore, and go through normal child development stages. At that young age, there are great differences in mental growth. Like asking all children, to walk, talk, or crawl at the same time. Having worked with pre-school children for years, I know that three and four years are like little sponges and absorb everything presented so it is especially important to have small class size for them and give them the space to be themselves. I'm fearful that might not happen, based on how everything else is going in public education.

Without including specifics, candidates who make general comments about their interest in "improving the quality of education" do not make a difference.

Measuring student growth could positively impact education. The Department of Education has offered states the opportunity to design programs to measure such growth.

A growth model acknowledges students, their teachers and the systems that provide for students to make more than one year of progress during a single year. Focus can be put on students, teachers and systems in which students make less than one year of growth during a year.

Educators are in the business to have their students grow through learning. Measuring student growth is one way to identify and celebrate success. That success will breed success.

It is always enjoyable to read all of the comments and opinions of those who choose to write in these discussions. We all have our own perspectives based on our experiences and that comes to play in these forums.

Political candidates are chasing votes. They are trying their best to say just enough about a topic to win over the particular audience and not get caught saying something that will be played against them at a critical moment. One bad comment can end a hard fought campaign. With all of the press our candidates get, any kind of "mistake" will be made public immediately.

I don't believe we will hear all that much about education from the presidential hopefuls during this primary season. When they are working state by state to get votes, chances are they will say what each state's voting majority wants to hear and no more. That is not the same message for each state. Therefore my guess is that all you will hear are generalities and widely acceptable catch phrases that will keep them safe from close scrutiny.

As much as the press tries to nail them down, they will side step and skate away from the education issue to the big hot topics (war, foreign policy, economy, etc.). None of the candidates wants to alienate American educators by making a committment to what could be an "unpopular" idea in education. That is why NCLB has stalled. Just how popular is NCLB? No one wants to talk about it now.

If we are patient, when the final republican and democratic candidates for President of the United States are selected, perhaps then we will start to hear some real discussion about education. Until then, I would suspect smoke and mirrors.

The combination of NCLB and high school exit exams is motivating students to take high school more seriously. I don't understand why everyone seems to be so critical of NCLB. Student scores are going up, slowly but surely, across the board in all populations. Although we are not likely to achieve the unrealistic projected gains in future years, progress is being made. The gap between populations may still exist, but all students'scores are improving. Let's make necessary revisions rather than eliminate a work in progress.
One view I often hear regarding the high school exit exam is that one test doesn't measure all students. However, most post secondary entrance exams or employment tests are "one size fits all." I believe there should be some sort of objective standard that represents proficiency in at least the basic core areas. This gives significance to the high school diploma. Students have numerous opportunities to obtain tutoring and retest. Unfortunately many students who need these services are not taking advantage of them. In October legislation was passed to offer our students additional tutoring and retesting for up to two years after graduation.
Students have multiple opportunities to pass and will learn personal responsibility in addition to the academics if we hold them accountable.

As educators, perhaps we need to help frame the need to strengthen support for public education as a national security issue - which it is! Linking education to national security seems to have been the most successful strategy for getting education on the politicians agenda over the years. And deservedly so.

As a science educator, I can see this link clearly, but I am not myopic enough to just advocate for science and math. We need far better instruction in foreign language, geography, history, the arts - and of course in how to write, speak, listen and view with greater acuity in our daily affairs.

The current focus on NCLB is a focus on the minimum. It is not a vision that can embolden the broader public to rally behind public education. It leaves behind the "already-achieving" students and offers no compelling challenge for them to achieve. We need a grander view of what we want public education to achieve for this nation.

No Child Left Behind? Certainly! But, what is a bigger dream than that? A nation that is committed to moving boldly into this still new century with the desire and a plan to have this nation become a nation of learners, achievers and leaders in education - to be the best in the world!

I think a vision this large is linked to our long term national security. I deplore the diminished status of public education in this country and our current standing in education internationally. My children and my grandchildren, in the richest nation ever to exist on this earth, deserve the finest public education possible. And so do the children and grandchildren of everybody else!

No, of course the candidates are not focused enough on education, but they should be because this is a major concern for many citizens.

I would like them to focus on the words of education writer Walt Gardner because this man possesses a great deal of wisdom in the area of education. In his article published by the Christian Science Monitor (12/27/06) Mr. Gardner reminds us to have a healthy dose of skepticism when considering the validity of international and domestic test scores. He also urges us to consider American education in a broader context. We are a country that encourages creativity and risking taking. Because of this we (once again) earned a No. 1 spot in the "Global Competitiveness Report." We have also done quite well in science, medicine, business, the arts and almost every field of human achievement. American children might be "dumb" but our adults, mostly the products of public schools, have done quite well.

Other countries respect the success of our educational system. Gardner quotes an education minister from Singapore who says that his country has a meritocracy based on test scores, whereas the United States has one based on talent. How true.

My own son is so typical of many American students. A mediocre student as a child, he is now "the principal scientist" for some government project that I am not capable of explaining. However, I do understand that he can compete nicely with anyone in the world.

The present emphasis on mindless drill and test-taking can destroy an educational system that has contributed to our great success as a nation. I'll vote for the candidate who understands the serious implications of this and has a plan to stop the damage caused by No Child Left Behind.

Mr. Gardner's article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on December 27, 2007. Sorry.

They should be more informed about the failure reality of No Child Left Behind due to the testing mandates that drive accountability. We are leaving more children behind now than ever before the enactment of NCLB. This is true for students who lack sufficient English language to pass a test designed for English only speaking students.

I agree with the conclusions of many others in this forum that nothing significant will come from the mouths or minds of presidential candidates. From my prespective as a science educator and professional developer, schools as a whole are broken. IN this country because most of us have the common experience of public schooling we are beset with this cultural notion, that everyone is an expert on education. WE see this come to play with our nation's historical emphasis on local control..... perhaps a nice idea in theory but in practice resulting in consistently moronic and low levels of conversation between board members.

Some folks have commented that American schools have a strong emphasis on creativity. I would suggest that to the degree that talent and visionary thinking are valued in this country,this is not correlated to the dominant culture in public schools. IN the larger society, we do value giving student many opportunites to " discover themselves" and providing multiple second chances but this happens despite schools, not because of schools. I know of no serious educator that would suggest that the present K-12 systems is a bastion of visionary thinking. There are isolated examples of courageous teachers and administrators bucking conventional thinking, but they are a small,small minority.

WE need a huge cultural shift in this country before we ever see real change happen in schools. I am stating the obvious when positing that this cultural shift will not come from a presidential candidate. We need to start all over again with a national conversation, at the level of a constitutional convention, with all the key players at the table. What can we agree on as a country,based on good science and research, that we know is true for all learners. Yes America, there are some fundemental truths about learning that should drive educational policy. All people learn in context. Thirty years of cogntive science has verified that simple truth.
Instead we have the idealogical bankruptcy of NCLB.

I winder if anyone else is actually watching the debates that have been fairly well publicized and listening to the candidates when they answer education questions. Most have made sme sort of remark for or against NCLB. Most have spoken against the law, or gone on record as saying the law needs revision. Both parties have called for universal pre-school and more opportunity for post-secondary education.
I do not expect a candidate to take a strong stand this early in the race. I am satisfied with what I have heard so far..
It is a bit shocking to read and hear commentary that our education system is in dire straights or that the U.S. is somehow failing to keep pace with the rest of the world. These notions are simply not true. Public education has its problems, but it is not a broken wreck, sinking in a sea of despair.
NCLB is just a passing fad. It has been by before in other forms of education reform. It too shall pass and schools will continue to educate students regardless of governmental meddling.

The main issue my colleagues complain about is the top down management in our country, state, and district. NCLB is the main culprit. Most of the candidates are only talking about revising NCLB. Ron Paul is the only candidate that wants to do away with it. Amen! He is the only candidate that is making any sense to me at all. He wants to get education decisions out of the hands of the Feds and put them back in the hands of the states and local governments. This would give us much more say as teachers. We, the rank & file teachers of this nation, have no hope of having any impact on education at the Federal level. Our politicians' are trying to control us. Let freedom ring! Get the Feds out of the classrooms. They have no Constitutional right to be there in the first place. I wish more of the candidates would talk about the Constitution and how it relates to education. After all, the Constitution is the law of the land and should govern all decisions made by the Feds. It's what has made this nation different than all others and GREAT! Is there any way to get the President and law makers back to following it?

No.There is not enough time or monies being spent for our AMERICAN children,no matter what color or race.There is however lots of time and ALL TAXPAYERS monies being spent on play time,sports.I say let all children play at playtime at the park!School is supposed to mean ACADEMIC.Communities (meaning you parents) take all that pressure out of our childrens way to get an ACADEMIC EDUCATION.Put our monies back for education into the schools,and bring the sports to the communities so everybody is responsible for the play time.They would be scouted from the comm. by the colleges.School would not rule your childs playtime,you would.I say let them all play. Quit spending all of our hard earned monies on a program that dictates which children are worthy of play and structure and EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN. (sports mom of 10 yrs.tropheys,medals,awards,etc...)

Absolutely not, the candidates are not focused on education or any other domestic issue. Since NCLB, more children are "passed on" without concept development or the necessary skills for success in upper grades. When tested, they fail and still "passed on" - a set up for failure. Failure in earlier years correlates with the increasing high school drop out rate.
Educators, administrators,and policymakers continue to camouflage the obvious- students success is directly related to social capital. Initiating new dialogue inclusive of educators, must include enforceable measures for parents to spearhead and stay actively involved in their child(ren)'s education beginning with the preschool years. Lets get creative with our resources for the benefit of our children. Our nations future is at stake.

Candidates are not talking about education because they have not been pressure enough to do so. The media is more interested in the War, the Christian Right, and the economy. Don't get me wrong, these are very important subject. But educating the work force of the next century is as important because they will constitute the leaders, politicians and workforce of the future. It may help candidates to have teachers and or education leaders on their staff who can interpret the NCLB and it is needed to trully educate all Children and curtail the drop out rate in minority groups. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

All of the candidates need to highlight their plans for improving teacher preparation and quality, particularly in our cities. Obama, for example, supports the Urban Teacher Residency model of teacher preparation, but he doesn't speak about it enough. Below are several useful resources on the UTR model and the programs currently operating in several cities.

Coalition of Urban Teacher Residencies:http://www.teacherresidencies.org/UTR%20Brochure.pdf
Boston: http://www.bpe.org/btr/program.html
Chicago: http://usi.uchicago.edu/utep/
Denver: http://boettcherteachers.org/

Most of the focus has been on higher education in more recent campaign speeches. Perhaps if teachers unions had not been so quick to back a candidate in a long race K-12 might still be a greater focus. Right now candidates are trying to get out the youth/student vote. Topics during campaigns tend to follow the current major media issues. Student loans and the prohibitive cost of higher education are their concerns. I'm sure with the NCLB's renewal K-12 will come back into play but I doubt we will see any further tangible talk until it K-12 education becomes a major media topic. Even then it will be more of an ideological debate rather than a substantive methodology based discussion. In the mean time, I am not sure that we shouldn't keep the focus on higher education. If students cannot afford to go to college amidst rising costs how can we increase hope? If aspiring teachers cannot afford a masters degree how can we enlist well qualified educators? If education leaders cannot economically justify courses that further their skills and knowledge in methods, tools, research and resources how can we expect them to meet higher standards? If we look at education from the top-down I see an erosion of economic reasonability which will make throwing time, effort and money at the base pointless if our teachers cannot teach, our leaders cannot lead and our students cannot dream.

The federal government would best serve education by simply butting out of it altogether. Like the "national speed limit" and efforts to change over to the metric system, the central power in Washington D.C. has shown itself to be
ineffective at reform. the objective was to set proficiency standards, but literally no standards were set by ED. Instead, the individual states were left to thrash out their own individual standards, and then were required to submit those standards to ED for approval. Education is the responsibility and the realm of individual states and that is how it should be. The Fed merely muddies the waters.

I think that education needs to be looked at in more depth by the canidiates. They say that they care and they hyave all these plans but we rarely see the plans go inot effect.

I have found that it has become a fad in the
recent elections regarding education just to mention that are some concerns. The positions of the present candidates are not clear. Our coountry
is face with " education depression". When will
somebody say or do what is necassary to bring our child out of the :eduation depression" that we are currently in. Oh, before I forget I donot want to hear , I been told that we are doing fine. That is a no-no.

Respected Sir,

You are requested to Read & Think for the best future by right Education in children / youth or everywhere. How bad elements work & how to save own self to others. The best education may be adopted everywhere & circulated at all the places.

Page no.24 (18th line) To-day the Education given to the females is not good. We should give Progressive and Truth Education and it is not only from the books.

Page no 68 (12th line) If we think & ask them (females), they have nine lives like Cats in India and Boys are dying like houseflies.
Above written in Hindi book------Bhartiya Nari
Written by Swami Vivekananda

Page no. 64 (last five lines) No proofs are required for those females, who are thirsty for blood of males.
Above written in Hindi book-----------------Vedanta In Practical Life
Written by Swami Vivekananda

We can Read &Think to save children by right Education & a automatic system by simple & equality basis Law as in INDIA some wife are very kind to their Criminal Guru & serve human beings & slaughtered in remote areas . You may call me anytime for 10/15 minutes.
Kishan Jalan Mobile : 98318-22701
Thanking You, 12/2,Shobharam Baisakh street
Kolkota-700 007

Criminals who are doing antisocial work and Criminal Guru give antisocial education. You must have seen or you may think that people as soon as gets up in the morning and they think for their work like (i) Agricultural farmers think for their work or how to get more products / good products for everybody (ii) Scientists think for their achievements or how to get new / good / improved / modern facilities to the public (iii) Teachers think for the students / classes (education) (iv) Businessman think for sale / purchase (earnings) (v) Professionals think for their work like others also. This way mostly / always children / innocents have suffered in
Satyug,Dwapar,Treta,Kalyug…………& Think to Reach………………… “ONLY SATYUG / no midlife deaths“…………..…....to save the ..............CHILDREN / INNOCENTS
A good work can be done regularly by even asking one rupee by way of Donation / Contribution to save people from a Criminal Wife / Women.

RIGHT EDUCATION
Antisocial Guru gives wrong education to females to break the relations and any relations break there is involvement of antisocial Guru & these Gurus’s guru are Criminals only and anti to everybody through antisocial education as well as development also.

Now, we should think for right Education & a simple / equality basis law as these Guru gives threatening for the family, so, we should not tell their working to save children / people. When, we have the equality basis law the crime / deaths will be minimize / stop and their wrong education will not work.
In INDIA two types of antisocial females (who are thirsty for blood of males) are working (1) Female Guru , Muslims knows & they give male blood from male organ / penis in childhood only (2) Some wife who are thirsty for blood of males. Both things cannot be done in common places hence happenings in remote areas.

As I mentioned truth in above Para is known by Indian Saints and that is why they don’t marry. These Saints get this education by thinking truth on this world & some of them will help you to reach at above stage. After all only true Education & automatic system by simple law on equality basis can save children / husbands / wife. As soon as people get married they should live like made for each other and any involvement of third people / Guru enter & distances are increasing will come out to the result of death. Best society can be there if we can able to stop this third party involvement and for this we can make a simple & automatic law (1) wife / husband anyone die then the other person has to be in Government custody i.e. that may be jail or a government organizations working centre where male / female are working separately and no links with outsiders. Here , we can also ask & discuss about Guru to save children / people living outside this place.(2) After a time pass of 10/15 years they can marry with person who lives in this places / not outsiders. After they marry they live & make society at campus itself. This should be strictly followed because the antisocial Guru who involved in their separation are keeping such documents / photos made in a room / remote areas will compel them to do antisocial work for these guru for blood of males / deaths. We can create proper jobs in defense or a separate working area for developments / creations for the world / no links with outside. (3) The property of said couple should be the property of the government to run the above sectors. Even all other property should be of government after death of owner, so, that antisocial people cannot take advantage of that & death will be minimize. (4) We should be always take / give better suggestions to think & discuss to reach on ONLY SATYUG / NO MIDLIFE DEATHS & try to apply for children / everybody. (5) Mainly females / Guru should give better & easy suggestions for betterment of all the females also to save a children / husband & wife from a Criminal Guru who gives wrong education to females. (6) Education of Sastras / Ethics should be at schools / colleges and students / teachers / parents should think & discuss for Best World / No Midlife Deaths. (7) Antisocial Guru should feel guilty / ashamed and stop their work.
KISHAN JALAN Mobile : 0-98318-22701 Phone : 033-22597429 / 22597321

The solution of fixing the public school system is crystal clear for all of the presidential candidates. The problem is that they do not have the guts or courage to stand up in directing ever congressman and women to substitute teach four school days a year in their state. You cannot fix something that is broke if you do not see it. The presidential candidates must require them to work those four days or they would loose federal funding for there states, this idea can transition down to all of the state legislators in which there counties or districts would loose funding if not completed. A national program to fix public education by those who make the laws and funded and are screwing it up big time because they do not see or understand in what is truly happening on a daily basis in our schools. How simple can it be; They would spent one day in the high School as a Substitute teacher, one day in the Middle School, one day in the elementary school and finally one day riding a school bus to and from school. You will learn.
We all know the ancient chinese saying which states" That if I hear it I forget, If I see it I remember and If I do it I will understand". Well if the Chinese can figure this out then I don't understand why our presidential candidates can't.

Florida United States Senator gace up one day per month and dedicated it as a work day, picking oranges in the groves, digging ditches, cutting grass on the highways etc. He had the balls to step up and stop hearing about all the problems, he went to see it and do it so he could understand when writing legislation effectiving the lives of children and adults. THis is common sense and one day the people will make it happen even if the presidential candidates fail in have the courage to stand up for our children and school staff.

Why don't we get rid of the illegal aliens that are sucking up all the teaching time and enormous resources as well as the school budgets? Here in CA education is somewhat of a bad joke. Motivated students do fine with a minimum of instruction while the others, often with little english or prior education, suck up resources often because they don't particularly care!

It takes the parent(s) and the teacher to make a child successful. Teachers, schools, and districts are held accountable for a child's success through NCLB. Shouldn't parents be held accountable too?

No. Education is not a top priority for candidates; if it were, they would be speaking in specifics rather than making vague, vote-garnering noises about being "concerned about education."

Being specific means upsetting people that don't immediately, directly benefit from what is said or promised. Upsetting people means the politician in question may not get voted in.

Not getting voted into power, the politician will then be forced to either get an honest job that requires definite results to remain hired at or to live off of others - like a leech or other parasite.

So, what candidates should be discussing are specific plans and promises; to include a promise to publically commit actual suicide when they fail to honor their other promises and obligations.

They'd probably weasel out of that promise, too.

No, both candidates have hardly mentioned education, especially Obamaa. What is there stance on education? Should there be vouchers,so parents have the control of where their student goes to school. What is there stance on NCLB program? Will it continue? How do we safe-guard the electives, ie music, art and drama in our schools and keep them there? I would like to see a president make the arts core subjects just like math, reading, and literature (social studies).

President better be heavily engaged in Educational process of this graat land and how we educate our next generations.

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