October 2007 Archives

The latest campaign finance numbers are in for Utah's voucher referendum, which is on the ballot Tuesday, and both sides so far have spent a total of more than $7 million. That's more than what Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. spent in 2004 to win his last gubernatorial race, according to a story today in the Salt Lake Tribune. Not suprisingly, the National Education Association lived up to speculation that it would spend about $3 million on its campaign to defeat vouchers — making the NEA the biggest funding source for the anti-voucher movement. The referedum seeks to undo a law ...


Did you watch last night's Democratic debate from Philadelphia, broadcast on MSNBC? If you stayed tuned past 90 minutes of the debate, then you heard an interesting education question (and really the only one of the debate) posed to the seven candidates. If you didn't catch it, you can watch it here or read the transcript here. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted that students in other countries spend an average of 193 days a year in school, while American students spend about 180 days. The deficit, Williams noted, adds up to one year over a student's career. So ...


Democratic presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is touting his education plan again, this time, on a campaign stop in Florida. One of things he likes to highlight is his call to raise the national average for teacher starting salaries to $40,000 by providing money to states (though he's not calling for a full-fledged federal law requiring the raises.) According to his plan, the cost would be $2.1 billion a year (which, incidentally, he'll pay for through savings by withdrawing troops from Iraq and other defense-oriented savings.) According to the American Federation of Teachers latest salary ...


For better or for worse, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who's in the crowded field of GOP presidential contenders, has been getting a lot of attention lately in blogs and media columns. Read the National Review's "Dump the Huck" and a New York Times column, "Who Doesn’t Heart Huckabee?" Though his fundraising lags the front-runners, some are speculating Huckabee could be a vice presidential pick, especially because he's solidly pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-religion—which would be attractive to the Republican right. He had an unexpected 2nd place showing in an Iowa straw poll in August, and comes across as ...


The National Education Association isn't just spending its 2007 election dollars in Utah, trying to defeat vouchers. The 3.2 million-member NEA is also at work in the state of Washington, where the country's largest teachers' union has spent at least $450,000 to support a state referedum that would make it easier for school districts to pass levies to raise additional property tax revenue for district coffers. You can read more about their support in today's Seattle Times story. The state ballot resolution would change the vote margin needed to approve a levy—from the "super-majority" of 60 percent ...


If you listened to or watched Sunday's Republican presidential debate on Fox News, held in Orlando, Fla, you would have thought that vouchers and school choice will solve all of our education ills. How do we fix the No Child Left Behind Act? With free markets, vouchers, and school competition, according to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. What about re-engaging teachers, many of whom have been disenfranchised as part of NCLB? Again, vouchers are the answer, according to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor. He and Thompson were the only candidates who got a chance to answer ...


Here's a follow-up on a recent post about the Louisiana governor's race: Republican U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal did, indeed, capture a majority of votes during Saturday's primary, catapulting him to the governor's office in January without having to go through a run-off in November. Read the New York Times story here. He becomes the first Indian-American to become the state's CEO, and will be the nation's youngest governor, at age 36. He will replace Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who decided not to seek re-election. While I pointed you to Jindal's education proposals in an earlier post, it's also worth noting ...


The referendum on private school vouchers in Utah, which is the most heated education battle in an otherwise quiet off-election year, could provide an endless supply of fodder for this blog. But Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s entry into this debate merits special attention. Gov. Huntsman, a Republican, is extremely popular in Utah and also a supporter of vouchers. He signed the bill into law, which would give every public school student a voucher, worth up to $3,000, for private school tuition. Proponents of the universal voucher program--the first in the country--have been quietly grousing about Huntsman's lack ...


Republican Mitt Romney, at a campaign stop Wednesday in Iowa, proposed linking the amount of federal college aid for students to the careers they're seeking. You can read the Associated Press story here. According to the AP account, Romney said he liked the idea of linking the amount of financial aid with the "contributions" students will make to society. However, he provided no details on which career paths would be linked to greater financial aid and whose contributions would count more than others. How much financial aid would a teacher's contribution be worth? Or a scientist's? Or an art historian's? ...


Residents of Louisiana, who are facing tremendous challenges as they rebuild the school system in New Orleans, could find out next week who will be their new governor come January. The state of Louisiana puts an interesting twist on its governor's election by putting all candidates, regardless of party, on the same ballot in an open primary contest, this year to be held on Oct. 20. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote then there's a run-off election, which would be held Nov. 17. This year, they may not be a run-off. The latest polls, as ...


Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards wasn't the only Democratic presidential candidate talking about schools today. In New Hampshire at Manchester High School West, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson unveiled his education plan. He wants to get rid of the No Child Left Behind Act (as he has noted regularly on the stump), bring full-day prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds, and pay teachers an average starting salary of $40,000. He dips his toe into the national standards debate by proposing a committee that would develop voluntary national standards. In his speech today, he also tsk-tsked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of ...


Although much of education reform talk focuses on large, urban school districts, let's not forget that 20 percent of U.S. students go to smaller, rural schools, which have their own academic achievement issues, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. The presidential candidates, who are campaigning in the rural and early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, are mindful of this. Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, today unveiled his plan to help rural schools. Among his ideas is to create a National Teacher University to attract those who will teach ...


I'm on assignment in Utah, which is in the middle of a fierce campaign over school vouchers. On Nov. 6, voters will decide whether the country's first universal voucher program will stay on the books or be defeated. The program would give a voucher to every public school student, valued at between $500 and $3,000, for use at a private school. The bill narrowly passed the Utah legislature this year, was signed by Gov. Jon Hunstman, Jr., a Republican, but then opponents were able to gather enough signatures to put the measure up for a "citizens' veto" vote next ...


Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, so far the only major Democratic candidate to call for completely scrapping the No Child Left Behind law, will remain in the race for his party’s presidential nomination. There was some speculation that Richardson might drop his presidential bid to run for the Senate seat in New Mexico being vacated by Sen. Pete V. Domenici, who announced he will retire at the end of his term in January for health reasons. Some say Richardson would be the ideal candidate for the Democrats to pick up the Senate seat. But Richardson says he’d ...


Democratic U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware becomes the latest presidential candidate to unveil his education plan. The gist of his proposal, unveiled in Iowa, is that he wants to turn the country's traditional K-12 public education system into more of a 16-year pathway—with two years of high-quality preschool available to parents and at least a two-year, affordable college experience available to high school graduates. He also wants to fund the hiring of 100,000 more teachers to reduce class sizes, and give bonuses to teachers who teach in high-need schools or who agree to stay in the ...


The American Federation of Teachers becomes the latest big-labor group to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., for president. Read the Associated Press story here. But it took the union two tries before getting its endorsement announcement right. The first press release arrived in EdWeek's inbox a little before noon, and it focused on the AFT's decision, with a lot of "thank you" quotes from Sen. Clinton. About 30 minutes later, a corrected version of the endorsement announcement was sent out, with more comments from Sen. Clinton about policy positions, such as that she'll work to protect collective bargaining ...


Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who has been critical of the No Child Left Behind Act in the past, this week reiterated his disapproval of the federal education law -- which, by the way, he voted for when it passed Congress in 2001. During a presidential campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday, the Republican told potential voters that he voted for NCLB in a "triumph of hope," according to a story that appeared Wednesday in the Quad-City Times, even though "experience" may have suggested he should vote against the bill. So what would he do to change the law if ...


If you haven't read Sara Mead's piece in The American Prospect on education in the presidential race, it's definitely worth a look. It's pro-John Edwards, but Mead, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, also uses the forum to highlight shortcomings among other Democratic frontrunners. On New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton: "As the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton has little incentive to engage on controversial K-12 education issues..." And, on Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, she points out that in a July speech to the National Education Association, he promised to roll out a comprehensive teacher-quality initiative...for which ...


The biggest showdown over any children’s issue this year in Congress will undoubtedly be over health care, and specifically, the state and federally funded program for low-income children called SCHIP. Any teacher or school official can tell you that children's health--from the treatment of acute illness to the management of chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes--can have a direct effect on their ability to learn. Last week, the House and Senate approved expanding SCHIP to cover an additional 4 million low-income kids, at a pricetag of $35 billion over 5 years (courtesy of a hike in the cigarette ...


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