Education was the subject of the lightning round question in the seventh Democratic presidential candidates debate. After parrying jabs from her fellow candidates all night, Clinton took on the question – with a 30 second time limit – but didn’t offer much that was new. Here’s the question, as posed by NBC’s Brian Williams, and her response (both taken from the debate transcript posted on the New York Times Web site):
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