Saturday, December 29, 2007
The presidential primary process may get a little tiring after a while, but one thing I like about it is it gives a lot of regular folks the chance to talk to the candidates and ask them real questions about things that concern them in their personal experience.
Already in this presidential race, we've seen that you can walk up to them and ask a question in New Hampshire and that a five-year-old can get an interview with a presidential contender in North Carolina.
Now in Iowa, a high school student gets to ask her question to Barack Obama. And it's a good one.
Amelia Schoeneman joined the editorial board of the Quad City Times of Davenport, Iowa, in a session with Barack Obama, where she told him her high schools is constantly fighting for funding to keep its arts program going. She wanted to know how Obama could help.
If you follow the link you can hear his reply yourself. Basically, he said we need to change No Child Left Behind so all the focus is not on reading, math and science. Specifically, he wants to make sure arts, music, foreign language, social studies and literature are covered.
To do this, Obama said we need to change the way kids are tested. And, he argued, if we do it will reduce dropouts by making school more engaging.
This post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: Quad City Times)
Friday, December 28, 2007
In this ongoing debate between Huckabee and Romney over who is best, it's difficult to settle the matter because the two served for different amounts of time, in very different states, under different circumstances.
Romney, as governor of Massachusetts for four years from 2003-'07, staked out his position as a supporter of high-stakes testing and accountability, tried for merit pay, and angered the teachers' union
Huckabee was governor of Arkansas for a decade, from 1996-2007, presiding during a time when the state Supreme Court ruled the school funding system unconstitutional, which earned him respect for his handling of this even from Democrats.
Both states saw their NAEP scores rise during these governors' tenures, but their starting points were different. Massachusetts' scores were already high to begin with; while Arkansas' were pretty dismal.
When it comes to dealing with education, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee recently told an Iowa debate crowd that he had the "most impressive" record among the GOP hopefuls. Like most superlatives, that's not easy to prove - especially when former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney can boast some pretty positive results himself. Then there's Huckabee's critics, who contend he claims more credit than he deserves. “He was the governor of Arkansas, but as far as being part of the process, he was not present. There was no leadership at all,” Tom Kimbrell, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, told the St. Petersburg Times' Politifact.com. To see the whole story, click here. To see the debate clip, click here - it's at 3:23.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Anyway, to education, election and the fun associated with both.
Sam Dillon's NYT piece on Democrats' concerns about NCLB notes a Clinton campaign stop in which she said she will end NCLB. From Dillon's story:
"And at the elementary school in Waterloo, Mrs. Clinton said she would 'do everything I can as senator, but if we don’t get it done, then as president, to end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.
'But she, too, added: 'We do need accountability.'”
You can read the whole story here.
Monday, December 17, 2007
A package of stories and graphics running in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week provides details about some of the top academic donors to the candidates and why they are giving.
Sen. Barack Obama is the clear favorite of college employees. The Democrat from Illinois has received about one-third of the total, or slightly more than $2.1-million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonpartisan research group.
The amount donated to Mr. Obama is nearly 30 percent more than what Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, of New York, has received. She ranked second with about $1.6-million.
Mitt Romney, the top Republican on the list, received less than one-third of the amount Mr. Obama got from academe. The former governor of Massachusetts raked in close to $564,000 from higher education.
By institution, the employees of Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia Universities top the list of total donations to presidential candidates. Harvard's employees were the top donors to Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton, and Mr. Romney.
Reported the Times: "Mike is the kind of candidate we have hoped for,” said Michael Farris, an evangelical Christian and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a group that defends parents’ rights to educate their children at home. “He’s a man who shares a world view with evangelical Christians.”
The support grows out of Huckabee appointing a home-schooling parent to the state board of education.
(Barack Obama at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.)
Barack Obama has named Standford education research heavyweight Linda Darling-Hammond as his education adviser. And not everybody is happy about it.
Blogger Alexander Russo over at This Week in Education points to some cranky comments by an Obama fan who thinks Darling-Hammond is a step backward for Obama's chances of proposing serious reform.
The good news for Alexander is that Darling-Hammond apparently checks in at This Week. She sends him a rebuttal of the criticism.
This post also appears at my education blog, Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: Iowa Politics Blog)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
—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 co-chair.
—The three other co-chairs are Paul E. Peterson, a government professor at Harvard University and the director of the program on education policy and governance at the university's John F. Kennedy School of Government, plus U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, who is the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, and U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado.
—At least two of the committee members were big-wigs in Florida education policy. John Winn was the state's education commissioner under then-Gov. Jeb Bush from 2004-2007, while Mary Laura Bragg helped implement one of Jeb Bush's hallmark literacy programs, Just Read! Florida.
—William D. Hansen also made the list. He's a former deputy U.S. secretary of education who now works with Rod Paige, a former first-term education secretary under President Bush, and whose implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act has been criticized. Paige founded the Chartwell Education Group consulting firm, of which Hansen is a director.
—Romney tapped several Massachusetts education policy wonks. James A. Peyser, who is now a partner with the NewSchools Venture Fund of California (which has raised $100 million to help start new charter schools), was a Romney education adviser in Massachusetts, along with Robert M. Costrell, now an education reform and economics professor at the University of Arkansas.
—Eugene W. Hickok, who works for the lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide, is on Romney's committee as well. The former Pennsylvania secretary of education and a former No. 2 official in the federal Department of Education under President Bush in March paid $50,000 to settle possible conflict-of-interest charges over stock he owned in a bank that participated in the federal student-loan program
Have you noticed that ever since Barack Obama announced his education platform he's suddenly leading in Iowa and getting more press attention?
Note to the other candidates: Voters are interested in education.
OK, so maybe Obama's new momentum can't ALL be attributed to the education proposals he's making. I suppose having the world's most popular talk show host campaigning for him in Iowa might be a factor.
And there was that intriguing breakfast meet up with Michael Bloomberg, the popular Democratic mayor of New York. (That was such a circus the waitress who earned a $10 tip on a $17 bill from Obama was the subject of a whole separate story in the next day's Daily News.)
Even so, the Obama education plan has people talking in South Carolina, another important primary state. On a conference call with Palmetto State reporters, Obama explained further his views on testing and teacher incentives.
Meanwhile, Obama dipped his toe in the debate over bilingual vs. English-only programs for English language learners, coming down strongly in the bilingual camp in a Scripps News Service story about where the candidates stand on the issue.
Despite the surge of interest in his campaign, not all the Obama press has been good when it comes to education. He drew a quick rebuke from Mitt Romney recently when he admitted to students in New Hampshire that he was a goof off in high school who tried drugs and drank before getting his act together. Romney said he wasn't sure that was a message students needed to hear from a potential role model.
This post also appears on my education blog Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: Wall Street Journal)
Few contenders this presidential season have made higher education as fundamental to their candidacy as has John Edwards, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina. He has called for simplifying federal financial aid, overhauling the student-loan system, and providing a year’s free tuition to all college students. For Mr. Edwards, who grew up making do in small, Southern towns, the issue of college access feeds into a broader theme of his campaign, that of providing economic, educational, and social opportunity to all Americans.
In the the latest installment of The Chronicle's series of profiles of the leading candidates for president, we take a look at Mr. Edwards’s efforts to establish a pilot college-access program in his home state and how his own experience could shape his perspective as president.We have also posted a Q&A from a Chronicle interview Mr. Edwards that was conducted in 2006, when he was director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Mitt Romney seized the opportunity to disparage Huckabee's support of the bill (which died in the Arkansas legislature).
Friday, November 23, 2007
(Obama at a New Hampshire high school.)
I suppose you could say he is shooting for the moon.
In a speech earlier this week, Barack Obama laid out an $18 billion education plan that he has been hinting about for weeks.
And delaying NASA's return to the moon is one way he hopes to raise the money to pay for his proposals.
There is a "mend it, don't end it" theme to the plan, which calls for keeping the required testing of No Child Left Behind but wants to find "more accurate" ways to assess students that don't depend entirely on standardized tests.
On teacher pay, he favors expirimenting with merit pay and "hazard pay" or paying teachers extra for taking on more challenging assignments. These are ideas that the nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, opposes. But NEA president Reg Weaver is quoted in a USA Today story saying Obama's plan did not alarm him.
Obama also proposes expanded federal aid for early childhood programs and money to support longer school days for schools that want to try that approach.
To pay for the plan, Obama wants to close a tax loophole on CEO pay and delay NASA missions to the moon and to Mars. He argues that we won't have the engineers and scientists to make those missions go some day if we don't invest the money in education now.
If you follow the USA Today story link above, you can download Obama's speech on education.
The post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
After being elected governor of Massachusetts, one of Mitt Romney’s first acts was to propose far-reaching changes in the state’s public-college system.
Mr. Romney’s audacious overhaul failed, felled by opposition from a Democratic legislature and public colleges themselves. But political observers say his effort offers insight into the Republican presidential hopeful’s leadership style as well as the way in which he uses data to drive policy decisions.
In the fifth of The Chronicle's series of profiles of the leading presidential candidates, we look at how Mr. Romney’s four years as governor may offer important clues about how he might tackle higher-education issues if elected president.
Monday, November 19, 2007
(Obama and Clinton at last week's debate)
Barack Obama last week unveiled a new campaign ad in New Hampshire focused on education in which he touts early childhood education and says he wants to recruit new teachers.
Obama recalls his own childhood and says all children deserve the chances he had to get a good education.
It's an interesting ad in that it comes from someone who greatly benefitted from the American educational meritocracy and who is clearly bought into the idea that education can lift people from poverty to opportunity through hard work and ingenuity.
Can it work on a wide scale, not just for a select few? He seems to say it can, if we start early enough and have the right people at the front of the classroom.
(Image credit: AP)
Friday, November 16, 2007
Bill Richardson, who told the crowd he wanted to be the "education president," was one of four candidates asked if they supported merit pay for teachers.
Despite the chance to tell voters how he feels about the subject, one that is at the heart of education debates across the country, Richardson instead fell back on his worn-out and, depending on your point of view (see Jay Mathews' comments on a previous blog), not-so highly acclaimed ed platform.
He repeated his plan to pay teachers a minimum $40,000, start math and science academies, have universal preschool and exchange college tuition for national service. He also stuck with the one thing that really sets him apart from other candidates, getting rid of NCLB. But he failed to say anything about merit pay, too bad.
To find out what else Richardson and other candidates had to say, you can see the entire video at the NY Times Web site, along with a cool transcript analyzer that allows you to search for specific topics or key words.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
We didn't include a link to John McCain, because I couldn't find education among his issues. If anyone could offer one, I'd welcome a link.
One of the early tests of Barack Obama’s political skills came when he was a law student at Harvard University in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In the midst of intense campus debates over faculty diversity and other divisive issues, Mr. Obama became the first black student to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review. At the law journal, he presided over difficult discussions among intellectuals with widely different views. Yet his professors say he was able to set an amicable tone and, at the same time, hold fast to his own beliefs.
In the fourth of The Chronicle's series of profiles of the leading candidates for president, we take a look at how Mr. Obama has won the favor of many in academe and the kind of “professorial president” he might make if he were elected.On our Campaign U. blog we have also published the full transcript of a Q&A we conducted via email with Mr. Obama's campaign. In it, he discusses his views and positions on various higher-education topics, including affirmative action, the federal government's role in reining in college costs, and the importance of education in preparing working families for a global economy.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Specifically, Romney targeted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for supporting 2005 legislation in Arkansas that would have granted in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for supporting a similar policy at City University.
Huckabee has openly defended his support of such measures. Last month, he said on Jim Lehrer's NewsHour:
"You don't punish the child for the parents having broken the law. We don't do that. We don't say, 'OK, your parents broke a law, so we're going to punish you for it.' I just don`t understand why anybody would think that that's a good thing to do."
Policymakers and judges have been wrestling with this for years, which reminds me of the important 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler vs. Doe. In that case, the justices ruled that no, it wasn't a very good thing for Texas in the mid-1970s to deny a free public education to children of illegal immigrants.
The majority (it was a 5-4 vote) decision states that the state shouldn't have "impose[d] its discriminatory burden on the basis of a legal characteristic over which children can have little control."
Though this is a different situation -- and college aid isn't guaranteed by any state's Constitution -- the fundamental issues are very similar, even decades later.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Governors across the nation -- including my own state, Virginia -- are trotting out preschool expansion proposals. Presidential candidates are on the preschool bandwagon as well. Clinton is on record with a detailed proposal to provide universal access to preschool, which would reach students highlighted in the NIEER report. To check out the report, visit NIEER here.
Among his proposals, the Democratic senator from Illinois advocated a new tax credit of up to $4,000 per year for college tuition and fees that would be refundable, meaning that people whose income is so low that they do not owe taxes would still be able to benefit.
Mr. Obama said the $4,000 amount is equivalent to two-thirds of the cost of tuition at the average public college in the United States.
The senator also proposed to simplify the process of applying for federal financial aid by eliminating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, known as Fafsa, and using tax data to determine eligibility instead.
On another front, Mr. Obama said he wanted to help tap the “tremendous resource” of community colleges. He proposed creating a Community College Partnership Program that would help institutions determine what technical and other skills they need to teach their students to help prepare them to work in local industries and to decide in which emerging fields the colleges should begin to offer new programs. The program also would reward colleges that increase their numbers of graduates.For more news on higher education and the 2008 election, you can also visit The Chronicle's Campaign U. blog.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
So where was Romney during the voucher fight in Utah? He pretty much kept quiet, despite pleas from voucher advocates to lend his political capital to the fight.
Yet school choice has a prominent role in his education agenda, which he discussed today in South Carolina, along with other hot-button issues, such as merit-pay for teachers and changing the No Child Left Behind act to focus more on individual student progress rather than school progress.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Imagine this -- a presidential candidate who says no questions from the media but then relents just because one of the reporters starts to cry?
That's what happened to Barack Obama in Durham, N.C., Thursday. Of course, the reporter was 5-year-old Hadassah Jones, who was trying to ask him questions on behalf of the Web site brandnewz.com. In the interview, Obama talked up health care and said every child should have a "nice school." (See the resulting video news story here.)
The rest of the media coverage of Obama lately was a bit more grown up.
In New Hampshire, The Citizen newspaper reports five people with education backgrounds in the state have signed on to advise Obama.
Meanwhile, Obama is on a civil rights kick on the campaign trail.
On Friday, his choice of speaking venue harkened to the early days of the school integration fight. Here's what he said on the court house steps in South Carolina:
"Imagine a President who was raised like I was by a single mom who had to work and go to school and raise her kids and accept food stamps for a while. Imagine a President who could go into Holly Courts Apartments here in Manning or Scott’s Branch High School in Summerton,(S.C.) and give the young men and women there someone to look up to. Imagine a President who fought each day to narrow the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be."
He stuck with the civil rights theme throughout the day, and the New York Times reports some of his family tree humor along with a few light touches on education.
This post also appears on my education blog,Get on the Bus
(Image credit: Boston Globe)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
WILLIAMS: We're going to introduce the concept of a lightning round here. Take one question; go down the line. 30 seconds each -- a time we're going to enforce. … This is about something called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. It's called TIMSS. A number of overseas nations took part in it. It found that overseas students spend an average of 193 days annually in school. The deficit compared to the U.S., where it's 180 days -- over 12 years, that adds up to one-year gap between education in the U.S. and overseas. … Do you believe we in this country need to extend the school day and/or extend the school year? And will you commit to it?
CLINTON: Well, very quickly, I would start at the very beginning. We need to do more to help our families prepare their children. A family is a child's first school. The parents are a child's first teacher. This is something that I've worked on for many years.
We need to really support it through nurse visitation or social worker, child care. We need to do more with the pre-Kindergarten program that I have proposed.
In addition, though, this has to fit into an overall innovation agenda which I have also set forth because we can't just say go to school longer. We need to do what happened when I was in school and Sputnik went up and our teacher said, your president wants you study math and science. That's what I want kids today to feel, that it's part of making sure we maintain our quality of life and our standard of living.
~ Cathy Grimes
Meanwhile, The American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education is hailing Obama for his effort to spare the Teacher Quality Enhancement grant program from elimination in the budget. The group's president and CEO, Dr. Sharon P. Robinson, had this to say about Obama:
"Senator Obama is a true champion for education and is committed to ensuring that our nation has a supply of high-quality teachers."
This post also appears on my education blog: Get on the Bus.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Not only that, Obama said on a conference call that he would be rolling out a full education plan within a month:
“We’re going to be doing a roll-out of my education plan in much more specificity in the next two or three weeks. And we abide by my basic principle, which is we don’t propose any programs that we can’t pay for, so it will be structured in the context of other savings we have achieved elsewhere,” he said.
What will be in the plan? Well maybe the South Carolina proposal has some clues. In it he says federal dollars should be focused on rural areas to help with school construction. Look for a major early childhood education component, too:
“The federal government has to target where its dollars are going to make a difference,” he said. “Early education is an area where we think we can get a huge bang for the buck. The same is true when it comes to teacher pay tied to innovation in the schools.”
The Greenwood, S.C., Index Journal said Obama touted "partnerships between communities and state and federal governments" as "the only ways to adequately fund education."
The post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The article starts out by introducing readers to Romney the detail guy—a candidate who routinely checks his own web site and lets his campaign staff know when it needs more information. (Has he checked the education part of his web site lately?)
As the story explores the evolution of Romney the Candidate, it does touch a bit on education. Lizza points out how Romney's experience in management consulting influenced his education reform strategies. For example, as Massachusetts governor, he hired his former firm Bain & Co. in 2003 to evaluate the state's education system, which, Lizza writes:
"...formed the basis of a radical overhaul that would have increased fees and dismantled the system in place at the University of Massachusetts. In the corporate world, the Bainies, whose power emanated from the C.E.O.’s office, could implement their plans by diktat. On Beacon Hill, Romney had to deal with a Democratic legislature. The Bain education plan never passed."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"In his first major policy proposal, Thompson challenged presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney by criticizing "sanctuary cities" where city workers are barred from reporting suspected illegal immigrants who enroll their children in school or seek hospital treatment," the story said.
"Taxpayer money should not be provided to illegal immigrants," Thompson said at a round-table discussion that included Collier County, Fla., sheriff Don Hunter."The 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe said that undocumented children have the right to a free K-12 education in this country. Most states and school districts have a policy against their staffs asking students or their parents about their immigration status, including Thompson's home state of Tennessee.
--Dakarai I. Aarons
If nothing else, Colbert's decision to run is a welcome break from the same old stump speeches candidates continue to deliver all over the country.
Monday, October 22, 2007
But aside from a few anecdotes like that, Mr. Thompson has been largely mum about his positions on higher education since he jumped into the presidential race in September. In the third in The Chronicle's series of profiles of the leading candidates, we sift through Mr. Thompson’s past, including his Senate career, to determine what a Thompson presidency might mean for colleges and universities.On another front at our Campaign U. blog last week, we wrote about Hillary Rodham Clinton's flip flop on the federal guaranteed-loan program. First, she said she supported competition between the federal government’s direct-lending program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program, also known as FFELP.
But when Senator Clinton later unveiled her higher-education platform, she called for killing FFELP. Her plan would use the savings generated by abolishing the program to help finance an $8-billion expansion of aid to student and colleges.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
(Obama works the crowd in LA Saturday)
Maybe Latino women voters, who make up a huge chunk of California's Deomcratic constituency, didn't pay enough notice last week when Barack Obama said student aid should be available to the children of illegal immigrants.
So Saturday he made his point again a bit more vividly.
Obama visited LA's Garfield High School -- the setting for the famous movie "Stand And Deliver" in which insprining teacher Jamie Escalante pushes Latino kids to test success in math -- and delivered an even more pointed critique of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's college aid veto.
"Instead of driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows, we need to give those who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed," the LA Times reported he said in his speech.
This post also appears on my education blog Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: LA Times)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
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.
In fact, Romney, like many other candidates, has been pretty short on details in general about his education plans. The "Issue Watch" on education on his campaign web page, which provides some quotes and video, provides virtually no information on how he would reform schools.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My main complaint with his NCLB position is his stand on testing, which I think betrays a lack of understanding of what good teachers do. He is not alone in this. I have yet to find a presidential candidate who understands, or is willing to discuss, this point, so I can't see this as a major Edwards flaw. None of us is perfect.
Here is what his Web site says about his view on tests under NCLB: "Rather than requiring students to take cheap standardized tests, Edwards believes that we must invest in the development of higher-quality assessments that measure higher-order thinking skills, including open-ended essays, oral examinations, and projects and experiments."
Sounds great, doesn't it? So why have so many states shied away from such tests? Why has the state of Maryland just decided to end its use of written answers to questions---the brief constructed responses?
The answer is that such tests are very expensive, very slow to grade and don't give you any important information that you cannot get from multiple choice exams. In addition, attempts to write such exams for ALL children---as opposed to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams written for high schoolers who choose to take a challenging course--usually fail, because the test makers find they have to dumb down the process or graders will go made, and they will be reporting May's scores the following February. Such tests also cost millions of extra dollars that would be better spent raising teacher salaries.
That is what happened with Maryland's BCRs---they came out slow and stupid and expensive and led to bad teaching. Maryland was smart to get rid of them.
It may sound odd, but it is much better to make do with short, cheap standardized tests. They give you enough to know how a student, and a school, are doing in general, and can provide some quick clues to a kid's weaknesses. All that fine teaching on critical thinking will come if the student has a good teacher, and the cheap tests can show which teachers are good at raising achievement levels and which are not. Those are also the teachers who are most likely to be teaching those thinking skills that Edwards rightly praises. But until we get to high school and can give students tests of the quality of AP and IB, those good teachers do not need a standardized critical thinking test to help them. They prefer a cheap, quick multiple-choice test, something they can get out of the way, so they can continue their imaginative classroom work.
The cheap tests will help identify teachers who are not so good, and need help, and also identify those teachers whose students do well on the cheap tests and thus are most likely to be learning the thinking skills we all want our children to have. That certainly has been my experience, watching hundreds of teachers in action over the last 25 years. But if anyone can point me to a teacher who managed to raise scores significantly on those cheap tests without cheating, and yet did NOT teach those deeper skills, I would like to hear about it, so I can talk to the teacher and do a story. In my experience, teachers who raise achievement on cheap tests are very good teachers. They are just getting started. Their success on those tests is as closely tied to their success in teaching critical thinking as long spring walks are entwined with young love. Edwards should stop asking for tests that won't work, and emphasize his many other ideas that have merit.
Monday, October 15, 2007
What impresses me most about the proposals he made in Des Moines last month is his take on the merit pay issue. The fact that he addresses it at all wins points with me. Some candidates think (wrongly) that the teachers unions just won't stand for merit pay, and so shy away. Edwards goes one very big step further by recognizing that the sort of individual rewards that some candidates support are unlikely to work in a well run school. In a poorly run school, it may make sense to reward your best teachers with some extra money to persuade them to stick around until somebody can find a good principal to match their good efforts with good support. But if a school is really going to soar, and raise the achievement level of nearly every child, it needs a team spirit, and Edwards' proposal recognizes that.
He wants to raise pay for teachers in succcessful (note that very important word) high-poverty schools by up to $15,000 a year. The first $5,000 would be for veteran teachers who mentored new teachers. This is fine, although his press release does not make it clear that this money would only go to such mentors in schools that have shown success. The second $5,000 would go to teachers who earned their National Board certification. This is also okay, since all teachers have a shot at the year-long certification process, but again the press release does not specify if the school would have to reach a certain level for them to get the money.
The impressive part of this merit pay plan comes with the third $5,000, which would go to every single teacher in "high poverty schools with high academic performance, good student behavior, and high parent satisfaction." There are a few schools like that in nearly every big city in America right now. Most of them are small charters. They don't get that much attention, but that extra money would help them recruit more good teachers and inspire more organizations to create such schools, or persuade public school systems to find smart, tough principals willing to create such schools as part of their districts.
It is a smart idea that should win support from many union members, since a team approach is what unionism is all about. Republicans so far are too stuck on the individualized approach--more money for every teacher whose students do well---to see that in the inner city, the every- teacher-for-herself approach doesn't work well. But the GOP folk are also openly admiring of the schools that have shown the power of the team, so I wait for them to get smart like Edwards and move in that same direction.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Speaking in New Hampshire, she harked to access, a theme she has turned to throughout her campaign. Her Web site contains details of the plan here.
The heart of the plan is an expansion of the Hope tax credit to $3,500, which includes a provision for what was dubbed "advanceability." In addition to increasing the credit from $1,650, she calls for making the first $1,000 in tuition costs fully deductible. The new credit will be partially refundable and will be "advanceable" so families can receive the tax credit when their tuition bills are due.
She took on Pell grants, too, saying she wants to adjust them annually so they keep pace with college costs. She wants colleges to establish multi-year tuition rates so families can better plan education costs, rather than waiting year to year to find out how much more they must shell out or borrow.
The plan includes $500 million in incentive grants to help community colleges make sure students complete degrees; the money also goes toward two-year/four-year institution partnerships to increase graduation rates and promote smooth transfers.
There is $250 million to help improve graduation rates from four-year colleges, too.
Worker training is addressed with $250 million for on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs.
Americorps also receives a boost in the Clinton proposal. She wants to double the education award associated with the two-year public service program, increasing it to $10,000.
For those tired of filling out FAFSA forms, whether online or in print, Clinton proposes a simpler way to apply for federal assistance: checking a box on the income tax return.
The accountability portion, which targets the institutions themselves, includes three components:
An online college cost calculator so people can figure out the amount of aid a student likely will receive, and how much he or she must pay with other funds, for the institution the student wants to attend.
A graduation and graduate-employment rate index, maintained by the Department of Education, for all colleges and universities. The employment index would include information on earnings, as well.
Multi-year tuition projections so students will know from the freshman year on how much they must pay over the course of their education at that institution.
According to her Web site, the massive plan won't increase the deficit. Clinton calls for eliminating the guaranteed student loan program and using a portion of the proceeds expected from freezing the estate tax at $7 million per couple.
There is sure to be skeptical response to the plan, but it touches almost all the higher education student constituencies, with the exception of graduate students.
So we're looking at universal pre-Kindergarten and more affordable and accessible higher education. Now we'll see what she proposes for the students in the middle.
~ Cathy Grimes
On a visit to the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City this week, I learned that Mormons, who prize the notion of family, are big supporters of public schools and only operate their own private schools in areas of the world where public education is lacking. Tonga was one example a tour guide gave me. It's worth noting, however, that in Utah, high school students who are Mormons get an hour a day of "release time" for religious instruction. Mormons are also fierce supporters of "free agency", or studying issues and making their own choices.
The two beliefs—support for public schools and freedom of choice—certainly must influence Romney. And, these beliefs create tension in the current debate over school vouchers, which often pits the ideas of public school against parental choices. It's a very hot topic in Utah, which has a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to keep, or throw out, a universal voucher program. It's also an issue for Romney, who has said he supports vouchers programs.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Richardson said he would cut $57 billion in defense spending and put $60 billion into education instead.
Part of those funds would pay for universal preschool program for 4-year-olds, he said. Richardson has started to do that in New Mexico. He spearheaded a pilot program in 2005. That program has grown slightly over the last few years, though the $14 million he got this year still will only serve about 14 percent of the 26,000 4-year-old kids in the state.
Richardson's other proposal, setting an average starting salary for teachers at $40,000, is another attempt to take a state program to Washington. During his time as governor, the state implemented a three-tier licensure program that starts teachers at $30,000, but bumps them to a minimum $40,000 after three years and a pretty extensive evaluation process. Teachers with master's degrees and six years can earn $50,000.
Richardson said he would also hire 100,000 new math and science teachers.
He said once again that he wants to get rid of NCLB and again used his stance to distance himself from his opponents. "Some say fix it, others say tweak it. Senator Clinton says reform it," Richardson said. "I also have two words for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. Scrap it. End it."
For more about his speech read this story.
The Democratic presidential candidate said students could earn two years of college tuition for every year of serving in organizations like the Peace Corp or Teach for America. For more about the preliminaries, see this AP story.
No other details about the plan were released, though Richardson has already said that NCLB should be scrapped. So far, he hasn't mentioned an alternative. Stay tuned.
What's the biggest impediment to the country's long-term economic success? The K-12 education system, says GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani.
“I’d like to point out that I think the biggest economic problem we face long term is our education — our K-12 education,” Giuliani said near the close of Tuesday's Michigan debate on the economy. “If we can reform that and change it around choice, I think the sky’s the limit for the United States.” (Thanks to Education Daily for catching the quote.)
Giuliani's key reform for all that ails education is school choice. Expanding options for parents is one of his campaign's "12 commitments." As he said recently in a California campaign stop, "We’re going to take the decision-making and we’re going to put it in the hands of the people who really know the children, really love the children, really care about the children, more than anyone else: the parents."
To hear Giuliani's June comments about how he wants to "save" American public education with choice, click here.
(Photo credit: St. Petersburg Times)
Education Week's David Hoff includes a presidential scorecard among his latest blogs on the No Child Left Behind law, currently up for Congressional reauthorization.
He notes that both Thompson, a Republican, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, have called for the elimination of NCLB, but for different reasons.
Hoff says: "Richardson is looking for the support of teachers' unions and other liberals who see the law as unworkable. Thompson is trying to reach the conservatives who see NCLB as an unnecessary intrusion on local decisions.
At the beginning of the year, Washington conventional wisdom said presidential politics would eventually interfere with NCLB reauthorization. As of now, it looks as the presidential field is reflecting the political alignment in Congress. We'll have to wait and see what happens once the field starts to narrow."
If you spot Thompson tidbits, shoot me a note at email@example.com and let me know.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
On Tuesday, Barack Obama called on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not to veto a bill that would make illegal immigrants who graduate high school eligible for college aid.
Schwarzenegger has vetoed a similar measure once before. Obama co-sponsored a a bill to allow illegals to get college aid when he was in the Illinois legislature.
Also check out this story from a Georgia-based writer which makes a passing reference to Obama's education positions but compares the Democratic senator to Ronald Reagan.
This post also appears on my education blog Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: AP)
Education was not one of the main topics of the interview, but may well be a key element of Clinton campaign stories Thursday. Stay tuned.
FYI, if you haven't read the Chronicle of Higher Ed Clinton profile, it is worth a look. The story gives good perspective and education threads through the whole.
~ Cathy Grimes
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Hillary Clinton signals her support for school accountability by talking about her key role in bringing Arkansas schools out of the dark ages in the 1980s. Does she overstate her case?
Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times' new web site aimed at keeping the candidates honest, is starting to tackle education issues. The first forays focused on Edwards and Clinton. Take a peek at whether they tell the truth while on the stump.
In the second of our series of profiles of the leading presidential candidates, The Chronicle explores Ms. Clinton’s transformation from Goldwater Girl to antiwar Democrat and traces her emergence as a skilled negotiator. We also examine her Senate record, focusing on her twin passions of expanding college access to nontraditional students and of making student loans more borrower-friendly.Our Campaign U. blog also contains the transcript of a Chronicle Q&A with Ms. Clinton about how her college experiences shaped her as a candidate and about her views on student-aid and other higher-education policies.
Another story that appears in our issue this week also takes a look at the changing role of presidential advisers and what scholars stand to gain and lose when they agree to help a candidate.
Writes King: "If the next president is a Democrat, it's likelier the accountability-centered framework of No Child will remain but with perhaps less testing and more money for smaller classes and teacher retraining, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington think tank."
The Republicans are less predictable. "That's because the party is divided between the conservative base that makes up the majority of primary voters and wants state and local control of schools, and business interests that provide most of the campaign funding and believe No Child should not only be renewed but strengthened. "
King then walks us through what the Republicans have said to date.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
We're still waiting on the NEA.
This post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Lately, though, his legacy has been somewhat tarnished because of his support of the Iraq war and his possible involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Add to that failing health, and Domenici's day's were numbered. For anybody who's interested in Domenici, see this New Mexico blogger.
What does this have to do with education or the presidential election?
In the wake of the announcement, several names have been bantered about to replace Domenici. High on that list is Gov. Bill Richardson. Richardson's folks have already said he's running for president and isn't interested in the Senate seat. But with Domenici gone and Richardson's approval rating in New Mexico hovering upward of 70 percent, some think he'd be a shoe-in.
Meanwhile, Richardson continues to get attention for being the only Democratic candidate to call for the removal of all troops from Iraq, and now he is criticizing other Dems for not doing so.
Richardson started off strong when it came to education. Unfortunately, he's been somewhat mum on the subject lately. For anyone who's interested in a Richardson education refresher, you can see his main points here.
Clinton participated in Q&A sessions sessions with AFT leaders and members. She has spoken out in support of universal pre-Kindergarten education, better pay and support for teachers and recognition of student achievement beyond test scores. She also advocates amending No Child Left Behind. Officials cite her past experience with education reform and her bold plans for improving education.
The endorsement is the latest in a string of union nods for Clinton. AFT boasts 1.4 million members. In addition to the AFT endorsement, Clinton also was endorsed by the New York State United Teachers, the state's AFT affiliate.
Rudolph W. Giuliani already has moved in to attack the idea. As he made the rounds of the diners of New Hampshire yesterday, the former mayor criticized Ms. Clinton for borrowing from George McGovern's failed playbook when she offered up the college-savings proposal, according to The New York Times's political blog.
A college degree also makes a big difference in whether a citizen is likely to go to the polls.
Other items from The Chronicle blog that may be of interest include a discussion of Democratic candidates' stances on how to respond to the recent controversy that has mired the student-loan industry. Ms. Clinton, for instance, has not called for ending the Federal Family Education Loan program, even though her husband is credited with creating direct lending.
Late last week, Barack Obama also outlined a plan that he said would narrow disparities in the nation's criminal-justice system. Among the proposals he put forward in a speech at Howard University, Mr. Obama advocated recruiting more public defenders by forgiving the student loans of people who go into the profession.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
On the campaign trail Clinton talks about building a $10 billion universal preschool program for four-year-olds. Her legislation, however, includes no dollar figure -- only that it would target families below 200 percent of poverty and therefore not eligible for Head Start.
(Hmmm, you're thinking ... sounds like Women with Needs. Exactly, which makes this a glimpse into a formula that's proving successful for her.)
Any federal preschool program is most likely to help those in-between families (too well-off for Head Start, too poor for a quality private preschool -- a group of voters both sides can win over) which is why it's reasonable to assume this is an issue with political legs. To date, we've only heard preschool talk from the Democrats, but it may not be long before this bubbles up from the other side...
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Barack Obama continues to be a hit with the college set, speaking last week to an excitable crowd of 24,000 at New York University.
Obama again delighted the crowd by ripping the cost of college in a speech that touched on Iraq and health care too.
In other campaign news, Obama and John Edwards said in last week's New Hampshire debate that they would be comfortable reading the book "King and King," which has same-sex relationships as a theme, to their young children and would support its use as part of a school curriculum. Hillary Clinton also gave less enthusiastic support for the book, the subject of a controversy when a second grade techer read it to her class in Massachucetts.
The three were criticized by Mitt Romney, who in a statement said he opposed the use of such a book in school.
This post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus .
(Image Credit: Washington Square News)
Thursday, September 27, 2007
There was a unanimous decision, according to Brian McMillan, one of the participants.
“We’re Barack Obama fans, but he didn’t really bring it,” the Dartmouth senior says.
Mr. McMillan says the group felt Senator Obama’s charisma didn’t shine through in the debate, and the students wanted to hear more about his specific policy plans.For more on what the students discussed, here's a link to our post at Campaign U.
"Last night's debate was just the latest example of how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people. Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade. This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers. We need to strengthen our families by passing a federal marriage amendment and also insisting on marriage before having children. Change in Washington requires Democrats with the courage to stand-up to their ultra liberal base and do what's right for our children."
1. Preparing Every Child to Succeed 2. An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom 3. Making Every School an Outstanding School.
Maybe those don't roll off the tongue, but at least he's making a stand on education...
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
~ Cathy Grimes
Monday, September 24, 2007
Rudolph W. Giuliani hasn’t said much yet about his campaign plans for higher education, but the Republican does have a controversial record on the issue.
In the first of our series of profiles of the leading presidential candidates, The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a look at Mr. Giuliani’s higher-education record as mayor. We also highlight his undergraduate experiences (he wrote political columns that, among other things, criticized Barry Goldwater) and summarize his platform positions that do mention postsecondary education.
As mayor, Mr. Giuliani worked to end open enrollment and raise admissions standards at New York City’s public university system, the City University of New York. To his supporters, his actions represented a bold move that has improved CUNY’s rigor. To his critics, Mr. Giuliani’s approach was bullheaded and threatened to undermine the urban university’s historic mission to educate all New Yorkers.
Both his supporters and his critics say Mr. Giuliani’s record on CUNY shows how he aggressively pursues his convictions, often without regard for public opinion, and illustrates the kind of leadership style — and heated debate — that Mr. Giuliani might bring to the White House if he were elected.On another front, John Edwards released a plan on Friday to reform elementary and secondary education. It included a proposal to create a "West Point for teachers."
Sunday, September 23, 2007
But she is among the candidates on the Yahoo/Slate/Huffington Post do-it-yourself debate, which can be found here.
You pick a candidate, then pick an issue. Then you get moderator Charlie Rose and your candidate.
Here are the highlights of Clinton on education in the Democratic mash-up.
She said presidential debates have not paid enough attention to education, treating it as an afterthought. She harked to a “vigorous agenda,” then hit the high notes she raises at each campaign stop: Universal Pre-Kindergarten; fixing No Child Left Behind, which she called an unfunded mandate; affordable college and career/technical training.
She also said the nation must “take a hard look at what the role of the family is and of society” in education. Citizens should ask if education in 2007 is working. Clinton noted that classrooms have not changed much over the years, with the exception of adding computers and other technology. They still contain desks, chairs, writing boards, books. The basic elements of instruction are the same. She wants people to ask, how do we better prepare children for what they will face once they graduate.
Rose followed up her comments, asking why education has not come along as fast as other societal changes. Clinton quickly responded that there are several reasons, but the key factor is one of the main reasons people read education stories: “One reason is everyone has gone through it and each person has opinions on it. Everyone is an expert on education because we went to school.” She said the nation has not reached a consensus on education that reflects today’s reality.
Charlie fielded one “caller” question, from Jonathan Kozol, who asked about testing. Clinton said she believes in accountability, harking to her work on Arkansas’ education reform, but went on with the sound bite of the evening: “I do think there is a place for testing but we should not look at our children as though they are little walking tests.” (Almost as good as the Darth Vader comment during the Manhattan Town Hall confab).
She said schools should offer a “broad, rich curriculum,” but offered no details on what that curriculum should include. Also little of substance regarding how to fix NCLB.
The Dem candidates are set to spar again Wednesday evening, Sept. 26, on MSNBC. Check your local listing for the time. I'll watch and see what Clinton says about education and share it with you.
~ Cathy Grimes
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In addition to paging through the former governor's report, we also dug through our archives to find a Q&A on higher education we conducted with the presidential candidates of 2000, two of whom are back at it again for 2008.
In that 2000 exchange, John McCain advocated establishing tax-deferred family savings accounts that could be used for higher-education expenses and said he would encourage colleges that have put in place admissions policies that help economically disadvantaged students.
He also emphasized the importance of preparing students for college as he pitched school vouchers and teacher-competency standards.
And then there is Alan Keyes. In 2000, the one-time president of Alabama A&M University told us that the U.S. Department of Education should be abolished and the federal government should prohibit preferential treatment of people by race in higher education. He also argued that direct federal grants to institutions are “dangerous,” often involving “expensive and ideological regulations.”
You can look here for more coverage of higher education and the 2008 candidates, including a link to a study that shows that text messaging may be an effective approach to getting out the youth vote and a Q&A with a political science professor in Florida about that state's primary debacle.