March 2008 Archives

Perhaps John McCain is finally ready to start talking about education—on his own terms. In his big get-to-know-me speech as part of a nationwide biographical tour, the GOP nominee brought up education without being asked. And that's remarkable for a candidate who seems to talk about education only when he has to. In his speech in Meridian, Miss., McCain talks for a good while about government's role in children's lives, and says this about education: Government can't just throw money at public education while reinforcing the failures of many of our schools, but should, through choice and competition, by ...


While the next president will play a key role in figuring out the future of the No Child Left Behind Act, the membership (and leadership) of the two education committees in Congress - the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee - is also going to be very important to reauthorization. And it looks like there's going to be some interesting match-ups this year for voters concerned about education. In the House, just on the Democratic side, 28 members were elected to Congress this year by a margin of less than 55 percent, ...


There's something to be said for starting with a blank page. But the Department of Education is taking this to new levels and violating the spirit, or perhaps even the letter, of the federal Freedom of Information Act. This law is supposed to ensure that government business (which is funded by you, the taxpayer) is conducted out in the open. There are exceptions, of course, for things like national security and records on juveniles, for example. For background, read Kathleen Kennedy Manzo's recent story about her fruitless (so far) quest to get public information out of the Ed Department about ...


Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a daring guy who jumped out in support of John McCain when practically everyone else had counted the Senator out, is boosting his education creds. Pawlenty is the new chairman of the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. He follows Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. Pawlenty, who is also chairman of the National Governors Association, has been suggested as a VP pick for McCain, who could certainly use a running mate who believes education belongs on the national agenda....


....who would it vote for? Turns out, that's not such an absurd question, because ED in '08 chairman Roy Romer is a superdelegate. Although ED in '08 has struggled to raise the level of dialogue about education, it may have some leverage since Romer, a former Democratic national chairman, is a superdelegate who hasn't committed to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. In such a tight race, both candidates are scrambling to boost their delegate tally, and are vying for votes from each state's "superdelegates." Interestingly, ED in '08 makes the point over and over again that it's a nonpartisan ...


The AFL-CIO—a traditional Democratic ally—hasn't decided who to campaign for. Leaders are reportedly torn between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. But, they know exactly who they want to campaign against: presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona. As the Democratic primary battle wages on, the union is helping the Democrats make their general case against McCain by distributing information to their members on a range of issues, from the economy to health-care to yes ... education. And its materials are targeted. For instance, members of the American Federation of Teachers (which has...


It's already starting! Al Franken, who is challenging Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, for his Senate seat in the swing state of Minnesota, showed up on David Letterman on Tuesday night ... and bashed No Child Left Behind! On late night TV! Shockingly, Letterman wasn't nearly as excited as I was .... he seemed only slightly more amused than Jon Stewart did when Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings brought up "growth models" during her appearance on the Daily Show last year. Franken was much wonkier (and not nearly as entertaining) as a senate candidate than as a comedian. I think he's trying ...


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., yesterday released a statement that amounted to a back-handed compliment of the U.S. Department of Education's plan to allow up to 10 states to use "differentiated consequences" in implementing the No Child Left Behind Act. "While a small pilot, this is a long overdue step in the right direction. By allowing states to differentiate between schools that need modest improvements and those that are chronically failing, this pilot will provide some much-needed flexibility," Clinton said in the March 18 statement. "This step, however, should be just the beginning. No Child Left Behind is ...


Education issues - and specifically the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their more affluent peers - made a cameo appearance in Sen. Barack Obama's highly anticipated speech on race, delivered in Philadelphia today. Obama acknowledged that schools in many parts of the nation remain racially segregated, even 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling. No policy prescriptions (that wasn't the point of the speech) but in his remarks, Obama appears to frame educational quality as a civil rights issue, particularly in this passage, in which Obama urged ...


...like academician, psychometrician, statistician. Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland last week hurled those labels at his state schools chief, Susan T. Zelman. Hired by her board of education in 1999, Zelman is well-liked in her state, and nationally as well. But from Strickland's perspective, she's not "visionary" enough, according to this report of Strickland's visit to the Cincinnati Enquirer's editorial board. (Hat tip to Ohio blogger ohdave.) Strickland, who like a lot of governors wants to have more direct control over education, wants to essentially do away with her office and have his own education czar. And Zelman isn't his ...


If you were as fascinated as I was with the Eliot Spitzer scandal, then you may have missed these noteworthy reads: The Democrats for Education Reform will be among the first to get a sneak-peak of the new governor of New York, David Paterson. (Hat tip to Eduwonk for flagging this story.) Before Spitzer's troubles became public, the DFER had planned a March 20 fundraiser for Paterson in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. And, DFER's Joe Williams told me, Paterson has re-confirmed that he plans to attend. With so few major pieces written about education in the presidential race, it's ...


Hoping to hear a lively - and maybe even substantive - debate between two federal candidates over the future of the No Child Left Behind Act? You might be in luck ... if you live in Minnesota. Mike Ciresi, a laywer who was vying with the comedian Al Franken, at right, for a chance to take on Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, dropped out of the Democratic primary race this week, putting Franken in a strong position to win his party's nomination. That means we might start hearing a real discussion on NCLB in the general election campaign because it seems ...


Here at Education Week, we divide up states among reporters, who are then charged with keeping tabs on education reform ideas in those states. We monitor the legislatures, the state chiefs, and the governor, especially around budget and State of the State times. New York is my state. And so I gathered around the TV, with my colleagues, about an hour ago to watch Gov. Eliot Spitzer resign from office, in such an unfortunate and untimely way. The "Sheriff of Wall Street" had great promise when he took office last year. After all, observers wondered what would happen if Spitzer ...


I think Joe Williams at Democrats for Education Reform gets a medal for being one of the first ones out of the gate—if not the first one—to offer a statement on what the pending resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer means for K-12. The statement was posted on his blog at 9:37 a.m. today and hit my email in-box at 10:30 a.m. today. Perhaps this is Joe's journalistic instincts taking over. Spitzer is expected to announce his resignation today at 11:30 a.m....


Given the problems that have befallen New York's caped crusader against corruption, Eliot "Client No. 9" Spitzer, it seems appropriate to examine what's at stake for education, and the guy who might replace him. New York is at a pivotal point in education, as Gov. Spitzer has championed and succeeded in investing more money in public schools—prompted by court rulings declaring that the state wasn't spending enough money to provide kids with an adequate education. At the same time, he's demanded accountability in exchange for that money. There's no indication Democrat Lt. Gov. David Paterson (pictured) would halt the ...


...from Lisa Graham Keegan, a former Arizona state schools chief who will start devoting more time to Sen. John McCain's campaign as one of his education policy advisers, according to this Arizona Republic story. Already part of a team of five education advisers, Keegan will take on a greater, more time-consuming role now that McCain is the GOP nominee. Note in the story that even his education advisers haven't spent much time talking about education issues with Sen. McCain, who has largely avoided the issue on the campaign trail....


...then you must add this story to your reading list: "The Lost Years," written by my colleague Mary Ann Zehr, who traveled to Jordan to chronicle the lives of Iraqi children who fled their war-torn country. If you think the war in Iraq is just about bombs and oil and fighting terrorism and getting out as quickly as we can, then this is a heart-wrenching eye-opener about the devastating affects of war on a child's education. You don't hear the candidates talk much about this when they speak of the Iraq war. Also good reads: Mike Petrilli and Checker Finn ...


Here’s some inside baseball on those retirements of congressional Republicans I wrote about earlier this week: Their departures may have an impact on the bottom-line for some education programs. A number of the retiring Republicans have helped control the purse strings for education as members of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing education spending. In fact, four out of the six regular GOP members of the panel are retiring. The retiring members are: Rep. James T. Walsh of New York, the ranking member on the subcommittee overseeing education funding. He's been a supporter of funding for special education , offering an ...


Now that John McCain is the Republican nominee for president, a lot of people are paying far more attention to what he says on the campaign trail. And although he doesn't talk much about education, he may have stepped on a landmine when he waded into the controversial area of what causes autism. Specifically, he said there's "strong evidence" that a preservative in vaccines is causing autism. What strong evidence? As my colleague Christina Samuels points out in her blog post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no link. For more on this and other special ...


What an election night! Two candidates who, at one point or another, were practically relegated to the political graveyard had big nights. Some education highlights: Alexander Russo wonders whether Sen. Barack Obama's wishy-washy stance on private school vouchers hurt him in Ohio, which is home both to powerful teachers' unions and a state-funded voucher program in Cleveland. Obama, in his speech last night in Texas, pledges that no child should attend school where there are more rats than computers. And finally, we must bid farewell to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the affable Republican who actually made education a campaign ...


When I read my colleague David Hoff's post about Barack Obama's views that No Child Left Behind has "narrowed" the curriculum, my eyes bugged out at one line in The Hoff's post: "He (Obama) also suggested that testing should happen at the beginning of the school year so the results can help the teacher and that accountability decisions should be made based on student growth." Believe it or not, spring versus fall testing was one of the most contentious education issues in the Indiana Statehouse, and one I wrote about often for The Indianapolis Star. Many years ago, Indiana's standardized ...


This is from guest blogger and EdWeek assistant managing editor Mark Walsh, who took a break from his own blog on education law to provide this Campaign K-12 dispatch: Education won't be any more prominent of an issue in the in the general election campaign for the White House this fall than it has been in the party primary season. That was the view of two of the three panelists at a symposium on Monday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "This is the first time since 1980 or '84 that education has not loomed large, or at least ...


Last month, I wrote about how Ohio teachers sent a letter to Sen. Barack Obama, seeking clarification from the Democratic presidential hopeful on his stance on vouchers. Well, the Ohio Federation of Teachers got a response, and just in the knick of time, since the pivotal Ohio primary is tomorrow. What prompted Ohio teachers to write to Obama was a dust-up over his statements to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the run-up to the Wisconsin primary in which he suggested he might change his mind on vouchers if research backs it up, and if it's what's best for kids. Ohio ...


Will the Democrats, who recaptured the House of Representatives in 2006, be able to hold on to their majority? Political analysts are betting they will - in part because the Republicans will have to defend 25 "open" seats previously held by GOP members. Two of those members are running for Senate, including Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico. Edweek's Erik Robelen profiled her 2004 congressional race. She defended the No Child Left Behind Act, which her opponent attacked. But most of the open GOP seats are the result of retirements. Who's retiring and what might those departures mean for education? ...


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