June 2008 Archives

Because respondents in a new Associated Press poll list it as the most significant problem facing their child's school. Forty-seven percent think getting and keeping good teachers is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Teachers are a bigger issue than overcrowding, lack of student discipline (which came in second), and school violence. Teacher quality also outranks the condition of school buildings, outdated textbooks, placing emphasis on the wrong subjects, low expectations of students, students not spending enough time in school, and thankfully, availability of athletic fields (26 percent think this is a serious problem!) A good chunk of Barack ...


A new poll out today reaffirms the obvious: Voters are really worried about their pocketbooks. Education ranks third as the most important issue this year, behind gas prices, and jobs and the economy, according to a poll taken last month by Lake Research Partners and sponsored by the Public Education Network. If you read the poll more closely, you can find some interesting nuggets about adults' attitudes toward the No Child Left Behind Act. (The most detailed polling information is in the PowerPoint presentation found here). First, adults don't seem to be nearly as opposed to the law as some ...


No, this isn't a merit-pay plan to reward teachers for performance. But, it's along those same lines—and I'm thinking this might be a good idea. John McCain is offering a $300 million prize to someone who develops a car battery that will "leapfrog" the current technology that powers our traditional cars and even newer hybrids. The goal, of course, is to drive down oil prices. In his remarks yesterday, McCain pointed out that many advancements—such as the mapping of the human genome—can be traced back to American inventors, and "often to the foresighted aid of the United ...


There are a lot of freshmen on the House Education and Labor Committee, but only one shows up on The Fix's latest list of most competitive House races: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. The No Child Left Behind Act was one of Shea-Porter's favorite targets back in 2006, when she unseated Rep. Jeb Bradley, a Republican. (He wasn't in Congress in 2001, when the law was passed). Shea-Porter equated the law with President Bush and pledged to work to scrap it. She called it an attempt by "right-wing Republicans" to “undermine our confidence in our public schools" to create a ...


Jeb Bush and Margaret Spellings....


One of the most disturbing things I heard today during a press conference about state budget conditions was this: the economic downturn in many states could last three or four years. That's about as long as the next president's first term. Even if the national economy takes an unexpected upward swing, states are always slower to come out of slumps. Ray Scheppach, the executive director of the National Governors Association, explained that it's because states typically don't feel the negative impact from unemployment (which means fewer dollars coming in from income taxes) until months after job losses hit their peak. ...


Sen. Barack Obama visited a community college in Michigan yesterday to talk about college affordability, reiterating his plans for a $4,000-a-year tax credit to help pay tuition. (I posted his speech below.) More affordable, two-year community colleges, which are often overshadowed by their four-year counterparts in higher ed, can be an important part of the solution, the Illinois Democrat and presumptive presidential nominee has said. And his education plan even includes a fair amount about how he would beef up community colleges. While Obama is talking about making it easier for students to go to college, states are making ...


So it looks like David Brooks' commentary on Sen. Barack Obama's education proposals generated quite a bit of debate among New York Times readers. The paper published four letters-to-the-editor today responding to Brooks' question about whether the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee falls into the education "reform" or "status quo" camps in the Democratic Party, as represented by the signers of a statement from the Education Equity Project and the "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education," respectively. (You can read all about those statements, and Obama's decision to essentially endorse both of them, in my colleague David Hoff's Edweek story). Some of ...


Rep. Timothy J. Walz, D-Minn., a freshman and former teacher who won his seat in an upset victory in 2006, is co-sponsoring a bill that would suspend the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, according to my colleague, David Hoff, over at NCLB Act II. If that sounds like a bold move for someone facing a potentially tough re-election battle ... it actually, well, isn't. At least two of the three Republicans vying to take on Walz in the general election have said they would scrap the NCLB law, according to this news report. Still, it's telling that, ...


Joel Packer isn't the only new face on this blog. Frequent contributing blogger Alyson Klein is now officially a part of Campaign K-12. We will share the duties of blogging about the presidential election, plus Congressional, state and local races. Alyson is a federal beat reporter at EdWeek who manages to add some spice to the world of the federal budget (by, for example, talking about the science of ice skating in an otherwise routine budget story!) She's has already offered valuable insight (and a lot of ellipses...) on this blog—on everything from the West Wing TV show imitating ...


The New York Times' David Brooks sounds very much like John McCain's education adviser Lisa Graham Keegan when he challenges Sen. Barack Obama's plans for education reform in an op-ed piece that appears today. Yesterday, Keegan laid out the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's vision for reporters, and said he shouldn't apologize for not having unveiled his education plan yet. "It's very easy to write a detailed program for an old system," Keegan said in criticizing Obama's plan, which has been on his Web site for months. Brooks makes a similar point: "He proposes dozens of programs to build on top ...


Sen. John McCain's education adviser, Lisa Graham Keegan, sat down today with several reporters for a rapid-fire Q-and-A session hosted by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and she laid out the most details yet about the Arizona Republican's plans for the No Child Left Behind Act. And yes, a more formal education plan is coming, she said, but not until "back-to-school" time in the fall, when people are listening. I'll go into more detail in a bit, but I wanted to highlight two important things I thought Keegan said. First, McCain's plan to freeze discretionary federal spending applies to education ...


For the American Federation of Teachers, Hillary Clinton's concession on Saturday means that it's time for the union to repair any lost love and throw its full support behind Barack Obama. Although the Obama campaign will certainly appreciate the AFT's organized foot-soldiers, the union will have to work a little harder to wield any influence since it spent the last several months aligned with Clinton—and is a late-comer to the Obama bandwagon. Unlike the National Education Association, at least the AFT endorsed a candidate when it still mattered....


Now that we know who will be squaring off in this presidential race, it seems relevant to examine more closely the differences between the candidates. For a good summary of what we know so far, check out my colleagues' story in this week's issue of EdWeek. Campaign K-12 blogger Alyson Klein wasn't able to squeeze everything from her notebook into the story, so this blog seemed a good place to add some additional perspective on the National Education Association's better-late-than-never endorsement, especially since it involves Joel Packer (the man with ALL of the answers!) Alyson writes:In its endorsement, the ...


Today, Sen. Barack Obama delivered a major speech on the economy and offered this education tidbit: "I’ll be talking in more detail next week about how we can make our workforce more competitive by reforming our education system, but there’s also an immediate squeeze we need to deal with, and that’s college affordability." He reiterated his plan to give $4,000 a year in tax credits for tuition, but I'm most intrigued by any new ideas he'll have next week to link education reform with the economy. Stay tuned here for updates next week....


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: One interesting little factoid I left out of my post on the Association of Educational Publishers election forum Friday came from Lisa Graham Keegan, Sen. John McCain's education adviser. At a press conference following the event, Keegan said that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a core of about 15 education advisers, many of whom I think are listed here. But apparently, he also has about 100 people in total, working on education for the campaign across the country. That sounds like ... a lot. Even Keegan described it as "unwieldy." Maybe that's why they haven't ...


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: So this morning I attended the Association of Educational Publishers election forum in Washington. Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona schools chief turned adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., squared off with Jeanne Century, director of science education and the director of research and evaluation at the University of Chicago's Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, who represented the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. They managed to cover a lot of ground without getting into a lot of specificity, in very campaign-like fashion. They both seem to agree that there ...


As some astute readers have noticed, there's a new face on my blog. Look up! It's the NEA's Joel Packer, who is proclaiming in the above advertisement to have ALL of the answers. While I don't have anything to do with Joel's smiling face appearing there, I thought I'd use this opportunity to ask the answer-man some important Campaign K-12 questions, since I only have SOME of the answers: 1. Obama won the Democratic nomination without the NEA's official endorsement. Will the NEA hold much power with Obama or his advisors? 2. Will the NEA spend more than ED in ...


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: The general election debate over education policy, that is. Federal reporter extraordinaire David Hoff and I will be attending a forum tomorrow sponsored by the Association of Educational Publishers. It's being billed as the first chance for some the education advisers of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama to square off. The representatives are: Jeanne Century, Director of Science Education and the Director of Research and Evaluation University of Chicago's Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, representing Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan, principal with the Keegan Company and former state schools superintendent in ...


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: The National Education Association is finally planning to endorse Sen. Barack Obama, now that he has enough delegates to claim the Democratic presidential nomination. Way to go out on a limb there, NEA. (Hat tip to Mike Antonucci, who I've linked to above, and Mike Petrilli at Flypaper)....


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: Last night kicked off the general election in earnest. And, although neither Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois nor Sen. John McCain of Arizona focused in detail on education in their speeches (big surprise), their general election arguments on education began to take shape. And both speeches were just as notable for what they didn't say as what they did. Sen. Barack Obama , now the presumptive Democratic nominee, said he wants to provide more resources to schools, particularly for teacher training: "If John McCain spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul, ...


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: Today is finally, finally the last day of the Democratic presidential primary. After South Dakota and Montana finish voting tonight, there will be no one left to decide the Democratic contest except the party's superdelegates. There aren't too many out there who remain uncommitted, just 160 left, according to politico.com. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has 2,074 delegates in total, according to realclearpolitics, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has 1,915. The number needed to clinch the nomination is 2,118. So, it appears to be up to the superdelegates ...


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