December 2007 Archives

If I were writing this as a traditional news story, this would be my lead: "Forty-two percent of voters surveyed in a recent Associated Press-Yahoo poll said they would be much more likely, or somewhat more likely, to vote for a candidate who supports teacher-led prayer in public schools." But since this is my blog, here's what I will say: "For the 42 percent of voters who think teacher-led prayer is such a good idea that they would base their choice for president on it, have you considered regulating such prayer? Imagine what the teachers could pray about: 'Dear God, ...


In Maryland, the icy and downright hostile relationship between State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley exemplifies the ugly power struggle that can result when a governor doesn't directly control his state's school chief. As O'Malley continues to push for Grasmick's resignation, she refuses to step down. After all, the governor is not her boss—the State Board of Education is. Reporter Liz Bowie details the duel from Grasmick's perspective in this Baltimore Sun story. Says one Grasmick critic in the story, who wants her to bow to the wishes of Gov. O'Malley: "The governor was ...


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who resisted efforts to bring vouchers to his home state when he was governor, is now trying to say he's a school-voucher champion. Except his record, and others, say differently. First of all, the New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association thinks he's against vouchers, and used that rationale to explain why it endorsed him as the Republican choice in this early-voting state. Incidentally, Huckabee has not been out on the campaign trail, jumping up and down asserting that the NEA got it wrong. Moreover, his record as governor in Arkansas shows just how ...


Although Democratic candidate Joe Biden says education will be his top domestic priority if elected president, his plan to fix public schools apparently isn't very remarkable, or memorable, at least to the Associated Press. A story that moved on the AP wires today declared: "Democrat Joe Biden unveiled an education plan Wednesday that would provide free preschool to every child and bonuses to teachers who work in poor neighborhoods." Except Biden, a U.S. Senator from Delaware, unveiled the same plan more than two months ago....


ED in '08 has come out with an in-your-face public-service announcement in these days before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. The ad, which ED in '08 says will start running soon in key battleground states, portrays several teenagers who declare that they are the future. But the future is bleak: "I will steal your car," one student says. "I will use drugs to escape," another says. "You will support me because I can't get a job." You get the idea. ED in '08, whose goal is to make education a top priority in the presidential campaign, still has a long ...


With Oprah Winfrey's rock-star support of Barack Obama, ABC News reporter Diane Sawyer wonders what's next for the daytime talk diva if the Democratic senator from Illinois wins the presidency. Education secretary, perhaps? Watch the video of Oprah's answer from yesterday, (fast-forward to minute 5:15), and you'll find that her evasive answer shows she's ready for politics, even if she says a government job isn't for her. She says she can't think of a more compelling job than the one she has now, which she "kinda" likes. For now, anyway, Oprah's sights seem to be set on the monumental ...


Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has assembled his education advisory committee, and given that he thinks school choice will turn around America's schools in just three years, his list holds few surprises. Among the school-choice advocates on the 16-member advisory committee are Terry Moe, who is Giuliani's education chairman and a Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow. One of the most prominent proponents of vouchers, Moe has written books on the issue and penned this for EdWeek in 2000. Other school choice advocates are Clint Bolick, the former leader of the Alliance for School Choice and ...


Not only is Republican Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, endearing himself to a growing mass of voters, but he's gaining the support of a subset of a politically powerful bunch: teachers. Ex-Bushie, Hoover Institution fellow, and Fordham Foundation VP Michael J. Petrilli explores this phenomenon in a National Review piece. Petrilli raises many good points, which have been echoed by the folks I've been talking to over the last few days for an upcoming story I'm working on about the presidential candidates who were, or are, governors. Democrats in Arkansas, who are the first to admit they don't see ...


Today, two news stories caught my attention that remind me of a potentially powerful political force in education politics: "Home-schoolers rally to Huckabee," Los Angeles Times; and "Homeschooler elected to chair state board of education," The State (Columbia, S.C.)...


In the last Republican presidential debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, two of the candidates, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, argued about which had the better education record as his state's governor. You can read a transcript of the debate here, and you'll see that education was a hot topic—from Congressman Ron Paul's assertion that the major education problem is that judges have driven God out of schools to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's repeated assertion that school choice will result in an education "revolution." But back to the issue of who's ...


Even the presidential candidate with one of the most comprehensive plans to re-tool the No Child Left Behind Act is now saying those fixes might not be enough. At a campaign stop in Iowa Monday, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards spoke for about two minutes about NCLB, even going as far to say that the federal education law is really just an attempt by President Bush to privatize public schools. Edwards said that even with his proposals to amend NCLB, "it may be that this just can't be fixed." And if that's the case, then it's time to "ditch ...


Last night’s Republican presidential debate in Miami, sponsored by the Spanish-language television broadcaster Univision, was aimed at addressing issues important to Hispanic voters, a key constituency in swing states such as Florida. The discussion yielded an all-too-rare question on how the candidates would improve K-12 education, and specifically, how they would address the dropout crisis, which is especially prevalent in the Hispanic community. While none said anything new, or particularly surprising, the seven participating candidates at least provided a chance to compare their proposals–and see how comfortable they are talking about education issues. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, ...


While the topic of education may be taking a backseat to other important issues on the presidential campaign trail, it's getting some prominent attention in candidates' television ads. Here are a couple of the latest: Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who recently got the endorsement of the New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association in this early-voting state, talks of a "new beginning" and bashes the No Child Left Behind Act as an "unfunded mandate" that's been "difficult for so many." The ad started running yesterday in Iowa and New Hampshire. And in this one, former ...


This dispatch comes from my colleague, Bess Keller, who covers the teacher beat, including the National Education Association: Last summer I saw Mike Huckabee take the stage at the National Education Association’s annual meeting and asked myself: What kind of GOP presidential candidate bothers to join the NEA’s Parade of Hopefuls? The nation’s largest union had invited both Democratic and Republican candidates to address the 7,000-plus delegates in Philadelphia, and, not surprisingly, given the NEA's links with the Democratic Party, all seven major Dems gave speeches. But Huckabee was the only Republican to accept. Must be, ...


Despite some Republican success in courting Hispanic voters over the last decade, it appears that hard stances by a number of high-profile GOP politicians and presidential candidates on illegal immigration are, predictably, causing a big political U-turn. That's according to a study released today by the Pew Hispanic Center, which finds that the percentage of Hispanics who say they're Republicans is at its lowest point since at least 1999 —at 23 percent. That's down from 28 percent in 2004 and 2006. That's good news for Democrats: 57 percent of Hispanic voters now say they're Democrats, up from 49 percent in ...


ED in ’08, the national campaign to bring education to the forefront of the presidential campaigns, has gotten some attention lately for struggling to make headway in its efforts to make improving public schools a top campaign issue. (Read the EdWeek story here, and blog items here and here.) Yesterday, in fact, I suggested that the group could take a more aggressive stand on education issues if it wanted to gain traction. That may happen if a new documentary, produced by Broken Pencil Productions in partnership with ED in ’08, generates some serious attention. The trailer for "Two Million Minutes," (below)...


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is enjoying a surge in popularity and support, is apparently not enjoying the continued questions about his faith—and this time, he was asked about teaching creationism in schools. According to an Associated Press story, he "bristled" when asked whether the theory of creationism, or intelligent design, should be taught in public schools alongside evolution. He proclaimed the question "irrelevant." Huckabee, a Republican, said: "I'm happy to answer what I believe, but what I believe is not what's going to be taught in 50 different states." What he believes, by the way, according to the...


Money—and the Gates name—apparently can't buy everything. Especially a top spot for education in the presidential campaigns. My colleagues Erik W. Robelen and Alyson Klein detail the struggles of the ED in '08 campaign in this Edweek story published yesterday. The group, funded with about $15 million so far from the Gates and Broad foundations, is trying to make education a top issue in the presidential campaigns. To be sure, ED in '08 has a laudable goal. But they seem to have trouble executing and refining their message, which must compete with significant issues on the federal ...


This was no Iowa caucus. Nor was it a New Hampshire primary. But if the votes of 710 social studies teachers counted, there would be no need for such politicking. The presidential finalists would be: Republican Fred Thompson and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Those are the results of a "presidential primary" sponsored by Pearson, an education publishing company, at the annual meeting late last week in San Deigo of the National Council on the Social Studies. The 710 voting teachers had to pick a party, then got to vote for one candidate. The results showed that if social studies teachers—who...


Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney named his education advisory committee. You can see the entire list here, but the 22-member committee is clearly a who's who of GOP education policy wonks, with a healthy mix of federal and state policy experts. Thanks to my colleagues on the federal beat, David Hoff and Alyson Klein, for helping me hit on the highlights: —Nina S. Rees is a new Romney convert. The former Bush-Cheney adviser originally was advising Republican presidential competitor and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, but has now joined Romney's camp as its education ...


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