July 2008 Archives

It looks like rising energy costs are going to put a major strain on school districts this fall, according to this USA Today story: Fuel and energy costs are rising so quickly for the USA's public school districts that nearly one in seven is considering cutting back to four-day weeks this fall. One in four is considering limits on athletics and other extracurricular activities, and nearly one in three is eliminating teaching jobs Education Week's Katie Ash also wrote about the issue earlier this month. This might become an issue on the campaign trail, at least for congressional candidates. As ...


Alexander Russo heard that Marc Dean Millot is advising, in some capacity, the McCain campaign. And, indeed, it's true! But the edbizbuzz blogger is not spilling the beans on what he's been asked about, or what he told McCain's folks. (UPDATE: Read Millot's own blog post about his advising.) Here's what Millot said in an email to me when I asked him about his role with the McCain campaign: I want to be polite, but direct: I'm not planning to discuss anything about my input or advice with anyone outside the campaign, on or off the record. I am hardly ...


Could there be an entire presidential debate focused on education? Maybe, if the Business Coalition for Student Achievement gets its way. The group, which includes some major business organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, big names in the philanthropy world, such as the Broad Foundation, and corporations including Microsoft, sent a letter last week to both campaigns asking for an "event, town hall meeting, or debate" on education. It seems like a longshot. Even during the primary season, when it felt like the presidential candidates were holding a debate roughly every 10 minutes, education policy watchers felt ...


This seems to be a recurring theme on our blog this week. Today the forum was the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank and the advisers were the Ubiquitous Lisa Graham Keegan, a former Arizona schools chief, appearing on behalf of Sen. John McCain's campaign, and Jon Schnur, who heads up New Leaders for New Schools and is informally advising the Sen. Barack Obama's campaign (along with just about every other Education Dem). Neither covered much new territory on K-12 education, and neither one seemed eager to address the 800- pound gorilla in the room: No Child Left Behind. ...


Sen. John McCain will be filling in the blanks in his education plan in a "little bit" with proposals on prekindergarten, college access and affordability, and special education, top education adviser Lisa Graham Keegan told the National Conference of State Legislators today in New Orleans. While my colleague was covering an Obama event, I'm was here in the Big Easy listening to a forum on the education ideas of the presidential candidates, starring Keegan and Linda Darling-Hammond (on behalf of Obama). There was very little that hasn't been said before, either by the candidates themselves, or their advisers. But I'll ...


From guest blogger David J. Hoff: Michael Johnston, one of Sen. Barack Obama's many education advisers, met with several journalists today to discuss the Illinois senator's agenda for schools. Johnston summed up the Democratic presidential candidate's platform in one word: "comprehensive." It would have $10 billion for new pre-K initiatives and add $8 billion for K-12 programs, particularly for recruiting, retaining, and rewarding teachers. It also would improve college affordability and access. As for the No Child Left Behind Act, Johnston repeated what Obama has said he likes and dislikes about the law. High standards and accountability are good. The ...


The National Conference of State Legislatures, which is meeting in New Orleans this week, has added a word to describe the No Child Left Behind Act, further showing how the group feels about the federal accountability law. "Coercive." The official NCSL policy on the federal role in elementary and secondary education, amended this morning to include that word, now urges Congress to adopt incentive-based programs versus the "coercive, punitive system at the heart of NCLB." That amendment this morning came from South Dakota state Sen. Ed Olson, a Republican, who was sticking up for his friends in Utah, who unsuccessfully ...


So there have been a number of events, both inside and outside the Beltway, that have given the education advisers for both presidential candidates a chance to square off. And I couldn't help but notice that Sen. John McCain's camp pretty much always sends Lisa Graham Keegan, while Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has called on a number of different folks to appear. For instance, my fellow blogger, Michele McNeil, is going to the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting in New Orleans this week, where Keegan, a former Arizona schools chief, will speak for McCain, while Stanford education professor ...


Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona met this weekend with Joel Klein, the chancellor of the New York City school system, a Broad Prize winner, and a former Clinton administration official. The two discussed "education reform." I wish I could give you more details than that ... but there aren't any available. McCain and Klein held "a closed-door meeting," according to this New York Post story. Apparently they discussed "education reform." Thanks for the specifics on that one, senator! I'd say this was a missed opportunity for McCain to get a photo, if nothing else, of himself talking to ...


After reading fellow blogger Alyson Klein's comprehensive story on John McCain's education plan, check out these reactions to his speech from around the blogsphere, a list that keeps growing: New reactions (added today) At first, the Cato Institute's bloggers were enthusiastic, and then, not so much. Flypaper doesn't like the reaction of The Quick and the Ed's Kevin Carey. Thomas Toch over at The Quick and the Ed says McCain's education advisers weren't "on the ball" because the senator didn't acknowledge that many of the teacher reform ideas are going on already in Cincinnati, where he delivered the speech. My ...


No Child Left Behind. Apparently, the McCain camp has decided talking about NCLB is not good. During his speech to the NAACP, the Arizona senator made no mention of the law that will have to be re-authorized during his presidency if he's elected. And during a conference call yesterday following his speech, four of his advisers were asked why the presumptive GOP nominee didn't mention NCLB. Those advisers spent 3 1/2 minutes answering this question about NCLB by—again—not uttering those four words. Instead, education adviser Lisa Graham Keegan talked about how teacher quality and data are McCain's ...


Sen. John McCain, who just months ago didn't even list "education" on his list of issues on his web site, has finally unveiled his education plan. In a speech today to the NAACP in Cincinnati, he hit on three big themes: school choice, technology, and teacher quality. (Read the transcript here). My colleague Alyson Klein will weigh in more later, but I wanted to pass along highlights of his plan: On school choice—He wants to expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program from $13 million to $20 million, and allocate $500 million in existing federal funds to build new ...


(Update: Read John McCain's education plan here.) Sen. John McCain, whose speech in Cincinnati to the NAACP will be covered by EdWeek's Alyson Klein, is expected to emphasize school choice and scholarship programs for students in low-income, poor-performing school districts. The presumptive GOP nominee is also expected to support alternative certification routes for teachers, more tutoring for poor students, and merit-pay programs for teachers. For more about Sen. Barack Obama's speech yesterday to the NAACP, read Alyson's story here, and her blog entry here....


From contributing blogger David Hoff: At an event in Washington today, Jane Swift explained where Sen. John McCain stands on rewarding teachers based on the improvement of their students. The Arizona Republican would give extra pay to teachers who "measurably raise" student achievement, the former Massachusetts governor told the audience of business leaders. No surprise there. The shocker came when Jason Kamras, the representative of the Obama campaign, essentially agreed with Swift. In answering a question, Kamras said that "student achievement does need to be part of that equation" in performance-pay plans. It's a bit of a departure from what ...


So last night I attended Sen. Barack Obama's speech to the NAACP. He got a rousing reception and stressed the need for parents to step up and get involved in their children's educations. He linked that involvement to the struggles of the civil rights movement. Many teachers in the audience liked what he had to say. You can check out their reactions in my web story on the event, posted here. The teachers I talked to also liked Obama's policy proposals, which he alluded to briefly. They said they didn't know much about Sen. John McCain of Arizona's education platform. (That...


A month ago, John McCain's top education advisor told a group of reporters that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee believes No Child Left Behind is "adequately funded." In fact, she was so clear in her statement that it became the headline for the blog item I wrote summarizing Lisa Graham Keegan's roundtable discussion with reporters. But in a perplexing turn of events, another advisor said on Meet the Press this weekend that the senator wants to "fully fund" NCLB. (Hat tip to my colleague David Hoff for bringing this to my attention.) So which is it? Does he want to ...


"America is only as strong as her schools...As our schools go, so goes our country." That's the conclusion of a new ad by ED in '08, which will start running today in seven key election states: Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin. ED in '08 (which in this ad is referring to itself by its Strong American Schools moniker), spent $5 million on these ads, called "One Nation Left Behind." Watch the ad here. In the ad, actress Jamie Lee Curtis provides the voice-over, and ticks off the names of countries that are passing us--countries like ...


Check out these three worthwhile reads: "NEA too big for its britches". Don't mess with Superman, or the NEA, at Politico.com. "Schools grapple with rising fuel costs" at EdWeek. Energy prices are an education issue. "Presidential hopefuls differ on K-12 spending" at EdWeek. The biggest education difference between Obama and McCain is clear....


Sen. John McCain will use a speech he plans to give to the NAACP annual convention next week in Cincinnati to talk about education. According to this Associated Press story, he will talk about merit pay for teachers, and tutoring for low-income students on July 16. His chief education adviser, Lisa Graham Keegan, told a group of reporters last month that McCain's official education platform won't be unveiled until later in the summer or early fall, during "back-to-school" time when people are "listening." But apparently, next week's NAACP meeting has provided the Arizona senator with the "right opportunity" to talk ...


The L.A. Times this morning is throwing cold water on Sen. Barack Obama's ambitious plans to spend all sorts of money on improving education, making men better fathers, and cutting taxes for the middle class—among other things that carry hefty price tags. Budget analysts caution that in these tough financial times, Obama's big ideas will run smack into harsh economic realities. And education will be just one of many competing priorities fighting for money and attention....


So my colleague, Vashali Honawar, blogged Barack Obama speech at the National Education Association's convention this weekend. You can read all about it here. And you can watch most of the speech over at the Education Intelligence Agency. There's been quite a lot of reaction to the speech - and particularly Obama's mention of merit pay - out in the education blogland. For instance, according to eduwonk, the NEA replayed portions of the speech throughout its convention...but deleted the parts where Obama expressed support for merit pay and charter schools. And Joe Williams over at Democrats for Education Reform, ...


NPR this morning did a segment on just how bipartisan John McCain and Barack Obama really are. (Hat tip to Liam, over at Flypaper.) As an example of just how willing Obama is to break ranks with his party, NPR points to an interview the Illinois Democrat gave to Fox News Sunday, in which he pointed out that he embraces the not-so-Democratic ideas of charter schools and some sort of merit pay for teachers. But this Obama interview on Fox News was from the end of April. That was more than two months ago, before Hillary Clinton dropped out of ...


As the National Education Association's annual convention gets started, the nation's largest teachers' union unveiled its plan to fix schools by 2020. The crux: get rid of the No Child Left Behind Act, diminish the federal role in education while still giving states lots of money. More specifically, the NEA wants the federal government to focus grant money on recruiting, training, and supporting teachers in hard-to-staff schools, better fund Title I and special education, and require states to develop adequacy and equity plans to address funding disparities among school districts. The six-point plan also calls for revamping accountability systems to ...


Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois wants faith-based organizations to get more involved in federal programs, including after-school programs, according to this New York Times story. The story goes on to describe how Obama (and GOP rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona) are courting religious voters. But it doesn't mention one key education demographic: religious homeschoolers, a well-organized and influential group of folks (as anyone who followed the come-from-behind win by Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas in the Iowa Republican caucuses can attest). I wonder what (if anything) McCain can do to get them excited about his candidacy. ...


There's been a lot of dust-up over the fact that sometimes, Barack Obama doesn't wear a flag pin on his lapel. So in hopes of assuring people that he really, really is patriotic, he delivered this speech yesterday about patriotism, in which he emphasized the role of schools in turning kids into good Americans: The loss of quality civic education from so many of our classrooms has left too many young Americans without the most basic knowledge of who our forefathers are, or what they did, or the significance of the founding documents that bear their names. Too many children ...


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