Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More speculation on Obama's education secretary

Some speculation seems far out. Caroline Kennedy's name has been mentioned (alhtough more frequently as ambassador to the United Nations). So has Colin Powell's.

Michelle Rhee's name has been dropped. Katherine Sebelius, governor of Kansas, is mentioned not only for education secretary but possibly Commerce or Health and Human Services.

But David Hoff of Education Week believed Oct. 22 all speculation is premature. He points out that such decisions are weighed for balance -- Obama won't want to appoint too many governors or Chicagoans, for instance.

Hoff's colleague, Michele McNeil, who also has blogged for us, says some of his education advisers have been assigned to Obama's transition team. Among them are some of the people whose names have cropped up as possible nominees. The big one: Arizona Gov. Jane Napolitano, whose name has dropped as a candidate for attorney general or education secretary.

More interesting speculation...

on Obama's pick for secretary of education is found here in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I note that the Washington Post this morning settled on just one name from this list, New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein. That would be both radical and interesting.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The most comprehensive list of possible ed secretaries ever...

is offered up here by insidehighered. A less conventional bid for the job is found here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jay Mathews lays out the education realities

Post columnist does a nice job here laying out where the next President will take education. I think he's right. I might have put a little more emphasis on preschool and charter schools and less emphasis on reviving NCLB. I'm guessing flat federal budgets for education, which will force everyone to sharpen priorities.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Student newscaster

Maybe it's not that pertinent to education,but it sure is cute. Check out the little boy learning to be a TV reporter covering Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Hat tip to This Week in Education.

And I agree. The best line was "Senator Biden is now my homeboy."

Another note: I used to cover Palm Beach County schools. Canal Point Elementary is one of the few very rural schools in Palm Beach County, in the farming country around Lake Okeechobee, miles from West Palm Beach and in one of the poorest areas in the county. Kudos to the school for sending this little boy on a reporting mission.

And here's a story in the Palm Beach Post about Damon. He's had a lot of practice interviewing politicians, including Obama and Clinton. His class also has covered John McCain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Student Voters in Battleground States

Undergraduates in four battleground states — Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — prefer Barack Obama to John McCain by a two-to-one margin, according to a poll released yesterday that was conducted by CBS News, UWIRE, and The Chronicle.

A whopping 94 percent of the nearly 25,000 undergraduates at 49 four-year colleges who were surveyed said they were registered to vote. And the vast majority of students said they definitely planned to do so.

However, the students were not as engaged politically as some may have thought. Most of the students polled weren't out knocking on doors or persuading family and friends to vote for their candidate. And they appeared to actually be paying less attention to the election than the average American does.

Over all, only one in three of the students had displayed a campaign sign or tried to recruit a friend or family member to a particular campaign. About half of the registered student voters said they were paying "a lot" of attention to the campaign, while 65 percent of all registered voters said they were paying a lot of attention in a recent CBS News/New York Times poll.

Like most would-be voters, students registered to vote in the battleground states said the economy is the No. 1 issue they would base their vote on. About 76 percent said a candidate's stance on the economy and jobs was extremely important to their vote, and 21 percent said it was very important.

Students said the candidate's views on education were second-likeliest to influence their vote — more so than issues like the war in Iraq, energy policy, and health care, which have figured prominently in the campaign. Eighty-five percent of the students said education was extremely or very important to their vote.

When it comes to higher education, registered student voters said they were most concerned about controlling the cost of college. Almost 64 percent said that was extremely important, followed by the quality of higher education, the ability to discuss a range of political views on the campus, and the availability of private loans.

Click here for the full results.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A PR pitch that's pretty helpful

The Cato Institute sent me this e-mail to offer up an expert on the differences between Obama and McCain on education.
Now keep in mind the Cato Institute likes to frame its opinions on the "principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace." So there is your disclaimer. Either way, I found this really interesting and pretty balanced.

"Adam Schaeffer
, policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, comments on the differences between Obama and McCain’s education plans:

“The differences between Barrack Obama and John McCain on k-12 education policy center on school choice and funding. McCain is more supportive of school choice and local control than Obama, and Obama supports a much larger increase in federal education spending.

“While both candidates speak favorably about school choice, only John McCain supports policies like vouchers and education tax credits that would allow parents to choose any school that works for their child, public or private. Barrack Obama speaks mainly of ‘accountability’ for public charter schools, which is often used by political actors who wish to restrict the relative freedom of action and independence that make charter schools attractive to many parents.

“[Obama] supports a large, $18 billion increase in federal education spending, with $10 billion of that increase devoted to an expanded federal effort in early education and preschool. Preschool has, however, been shown to be expensive and ineffective at increasing long-term achievement.

“McCain proposes to hold spending at the same levels and focus on expanding virtual education, tutoring and school choice, and encouraging local reforms.”

More debates -- among education advisers

The Columbia University Teachers College hosted a debate between the main education advisers for the two campaigns on Tuesday. John McCain's chief education adviser Lisa Graham Keegan (who was certainly busy on Tuesday) faced off with Linda Darling Hammond, one of Barack Obama's main advisers.

You can read the transcript or register to view the webcast.

They're talking about education!

Not really. But education advisers for the two campaigns, Melody Barnes for Barack Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan for John McCain, spoke on the Diane Rehm show on NPR on Tuesday. Other education experts on the program included Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation and Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute. USA Today's education reporter, Greg Toppo, provided perspective. The big focus: What's the future of No Child Left Behind?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Donors from Academe Favor Obama by a Wide Margin

In The Chronicle of Higher Education this week, we take a look at giving to presidential candidates from college employees.

Professors, college administrators, and other educators have donated eight times as much to Barack Obama as they have to John McCain, the widest gulf in giving to presidential candidates by academics in the past five presidential elections, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Through the end of last month, donors from academe had contributed just over $12.2-million to Mr. Obama, compared with just over $1.5-million to Mr. McCain, according to the center, a nonprofit research group whose data on giving to presidential candidates date to the 1992 election.

For more details on giving from academe, see our story here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last Presidential Debate Includes First Direct Exchanges on Education

In the last question in the last of three presidential debates, John McCain and Barack Obama fielded their first, and only, question in these forums that focused squarely on education policy.

Near the end of the 90-minute event at Hofstra University, the debate’s moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, asked the candidates to respond to trends that show that the United States spends more per capita on education than other countries yet trails many nations on measures such as students’ abilities to compete in mathematics and science. Mr. Schieffer asked whether that posed a national-security threat.

Senator Obama responded first, saying “this probably has more to do with our economic future than any” issue. He agreed that the problems Mr. Schieffer identified do have an effect on national security.

He said the nation’s education problems need to be fixed by spending more money and by reforming the system. He touted the importance of early-childhood education, said the United States needed to recruit a new generation of teachers, especially in math and science, and argued that the government should provide teachers with more professional development and better pay in exchange for being required to meet higher standards.

The Democrat said the United States needed to make college more affordable and help students who are taking on high levels of debt. Graduating from college with large amounts of loans, he said, deters students from pursuing some careers. He pitched his plan to provide students a tax credit of up to $4,000 for tuition in exchange for performing community service.

Senator Obama also challenged Senator McCain’s commitment to improving college access and affordability. The Democrat said one of his opponent’s advisers had responded to a question about why Mr. McCain didn’t have more-detailed higher-education proposals by saying that the government can’t give money to every interest group that comes along. “I don’t think America’s youth are interest groups,” Senator Obama said. “They’re our future.”

Senator McCain didn’t respond directly to that charge. In his answer to Mr. Schieffer, the Republican called education the “civil-rights issue of the 21st century” and said providing choice and competition among elementary and secondary schools would help improve inequities in the quality of education children receive.

He voiced support for programs like Teach for America and Troops to Teachers. He also urged changes in the student-loan programs that would make sure graduates are given repayment schedules they can meet and that would raise the maximum amount students can borrow in federally supported loans, pegging those increases to the rate of inflation.

Both candidates made passing references to college issues and education policy in other portions of the debate.

During a discussion about trade and energy policy, Senator McCain touted the need to create education and training programs for displaced workers at community colleges.

Senator Obama spoke several times about the need for the nation to make sure more people can go to college and said the government should put more money into education to make sure every young person can learn. He noted that his running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., shares his priority about expanding college access.

Crossposted from The Chronicle of Higher Education's Campaign U. blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'No fair!' says article on McCain, Ayers and the Annenberg Challenge

Next up in the examination of William Ayers, this article from CQ Politics that debates whether the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was in fact "radical" as portrayed by the McCain camp, and to what degree Ayers was involved in running the foundation.

Basically, the article says that McCain has incorrectly cast the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as radical and that Ayers' involvement doesn't tarnish the group's mission.

What do you think? Did McCain go too far connecting the dots?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Public Education Network sums up candidate positions

The Public Education Network provides a nifty side-by-side compare and contrast of the candidates' positions on various education issues, including No Child Left Behind, teachers, early childhood education, college affordability, among others.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The candidates on education technology and science education

A couple of publications went deep into specifics of the presidential candidates' education platforms and voting records this week.

In a 14-question survey of McCain and Obama's views on science, Popular Science magazine included this question:

4. A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th. What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?

The candidates gave their answers, and this week, writer Stuart Fox compares their answers on this question to their voting records. (Can't help but love a lede with a Whitney Houston reference.)

In Education Week's upcoming issue, Andrew Trotter explores the particulars of the candidates' proposals for improving the nation's schools through technology.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spin Cycle: Barack Obama and 'terrorist' William C. Ayers

Ed Week attempts to sort out the fact from fiction surrounding Barack Obama's involvement with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and "terrorist" William C. Ayers, a member of the radical Weather Underground.

In recent weeks, Obama's been taking some hits for his involvement with the group and Ayers. This Ed Week article by Dakarai I. Aarons examines the organization and its mission in Chicago Public Schools.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When a Debate Comes to Campus ...

The four colleges that are playing host to presidential or vice-presidential debates this year have had to raise (or spend) millions of dollars and navigate an array of logistical complexities to prepare for the events as they take a turn in the national spotlight.

For a glimpse at what it was like for the chancellor of the University of Mississippi to guide the campus through a day of worry and festivity as the first presidential debate took place there, see The Chronicle of Higher Education's account from behind the scenes here.

We also have published a video that shows how students and college employees basked in the spotlight, with the atmosphere seeming akin to a political version of ESPN's College Gameday.

Education and Spending in Last Night's Debate

In Tuesday night’s town-hall debate at Belmont University, Barack Obama and John McCain spent much of the 90-minute event discussing the nation’s economic turmoil, government reform, and energy, tax, health-care, and foreign policies. But the presidential candidates did touch on spending and policy issues that would affect higher education.

Senator Obama spoke about making college affordability a priority even as he would rein in government spending in other areas. Senator McCain focused on eliminating spending he considers wasteful, including federal earmarks that often benefit college projects, and advocated an across-the-board freeze in federal spending.

When responding to a question by the debate’s moderator, Tom Brokaw, about how he would prioritize the issues of energy, health care, and entitlement reform, Senator Obama said energy would be his top priority, health care would be his second, and education his third. Education, the Democratic nominee said, has to be near the top of the list so the nation can help young people be competitive in the global economy.

In response to a separate question about what sacrifices he would ask the American people to make to help fix the economy and improve the nation, Senator Obama said he would seek incentives to decrease energy consumption and also to encourage volunteerism (including by doubling the ranks of the Peace Corps), something he said he found young people to be especially interested in.

Senator Obama also said that the federal government needed to cut spending, but he singled out efforts to improve college affordability as an area where spending should be increased and not decreased. Citing his own past, and his ability to attend college with the help of scholarships, he said the American dream seemed to be diminishing, in part because young people “who’ve got the grades and the will and the drive to go to college” don’t attend because they don’t have the money.

Senator McCain, meanwhile, focused on reining in government spending by eliminating earmarks — spending that individual lawmakers allocate on a noncompetitive basis to colleges and other entities — and by freezing most federal spending. The areas he singled out as exceptions that might receive more government support were defense and veterans affairs.

“Obviously we’ve got to stop the spending spree that’s going on in Washington,” the Republican candidate said, adding that he wanted to reduce the debt that is being left to young people.

(This item was crossposted from The Chronicle of Higher Education's Campaign U. blog.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NEA prez says he's still happy with Obama

Today I interviewed Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. He's in Nashville flying his Obama flag for tonight's presidential debate.

Van Roekel said that in his opinion, education is at the center of this presidential election, since it is so closely tied into the economy and health care. He also said the group is 100 percent behind Obama, despite the debate about whether his ideas for reform were in line with the group's traditional views.

“I am not just voting for him, I believe he will create an America we all want,” Van Roekel said.

The organization, which represents 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers and faculty, endorsed Obama in July. They are the nation’s largest professional organization.

Van Roekel said the group endorsed Obama because of his emphasis on reforming No Child Left Behind and preschool education.

Monday, October 6, 2008

McCain's Education Voting Record

Tomorrow's debate on domestic policy issues could include a discussion of education topics, as well as the expected focus on the economy.

McCain's platform emphasizes school choice, teacher recruitment and retention and virtual schools.

Here's a look at some of the Arizona senator's voting history, as compiled by

What he's supported: state standards rather than federal standards, school prayer, abstinence education and vouchers.

What he's opposed: moving tax surpluses to education and testing or smaller class sizes as an alternative to private tutoring.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin on education funding

The vice presidential candidates didn't focus long on education during their Thursday debate.

But some have said that Republican Sarah Palin's call to increase funding for public education is at odds with her running mate's promise for a one-year freeze on non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending.

She said, "(W)ith education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more." (Link to The New York Times debate transcript.)

That stance seems to be consistent with at least one of her actions as Alaska's governor. In an article on Oct. 1, The New York Times mentioned that earlier this year, Palin "approved a widely praised legislative effort that would increase education spending by about $200 million over five years, an increase made possible by revenue surpluses from the rising price of oil."

The measure increased money for rural schools and the per-student allocation for students with intensive special needs, according to the Times.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Teachers' group accused of bringing politics to school

Some Virginia Republican officials cried foul after a member of the Virginia Education Association sent an email encouraging other members to wear blue on "Obama Blue Day" to show support for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The email also suggested that teachers register two voters or "talk to two people who may be on the fence/or a McCain supporter and sway them to become a Obama supporter."

Here's one of the stories, this one from my paper The Virginian-Pilot

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ed in 08

Last year Strong American Schools, also known as Edin08, was launched through the auspices of the Broad and Gates foundations to promote education as a major issue during the presidential campaign. The two foundations apparently are declaring victory and withdrawing funding for the campaign. (hat tip: This Week in Education)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The candidates on tuition costs

Associated Press reporter Justin Pope offers this comparison of the candidates on college affordability.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Counter to WSJ article

From past EWA president Linda Lenz in a column in the Chicago Sun-Times. Walter Annenberg, an ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, is probably shaking his head in the great beyond...

Edited to add: Alexander Russo also raises a skeptical eyebrow. He should know: he wrote the chapter in a Fordham Foundation report on the annals of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Foundation.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This certainly hasn't come up in Obama's education platform

WSJ opinion piece says Obama was on the board of education foundation with a 1960s radical from 1995-99, which gave more than than $100 million to community organizers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

WaPost says McCain ads are lies

The Washington Post is defending Education Week and Barack Obama by claiming that Sen. McCain's new TV spots stretch the truth.
The editorial also disputes McCain's claim that Obama supported sex ed for kindergarteners, which is something I have seen rereported on many blogs on the Web.
Check out the Post's attempt to set the record straight here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another attempt to sort out education issues

AP writer Libby Quaid lays out the education differences.

Sparring over education

Elizabeth Green in the New York Sun does a nice job framing the education differences between the two candidates.

Chicago roots in Obama's education plan...

This New York Times story nicely lays out the Chicago influences in Obama's education plan. Interesting there was no mention of the fact that the senator sends his daughters to an expensive private school there. With Gov. Palin making such as impact in the race (her kids attend local public schools), I can't imagine this will remain an untouched issue for long.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Students with disabilities

During her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin told parents of children with disabilities that she would be their advocate in the White House.

The International Herald Tribune runs a story exploring how much of an advocate she was in the past and the reactions of parents of kids with disabilities.

Obama outlines his education proposals

(Barack Obama speaks about education in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday.)

There weren't a lot of new ideas from Barack Obama Tuesday during an education speech in Dayton, Ohio. The headline was his support of doubling to $400 million the amount of federal aid for charter schools. Otherwise, he mostly emphasized proposals he has made in the past.

Among the initiatives he highlighted:

--Heavier investment in early childhood education. He is pushing to expand federal aid for pre-school programs.

--College tax break. Obama wants to offer a $4,000 tax credit for students willing to commit to community or military service after college.

--New teachers. He wants to recruit new teachers to the profession using service scholarships

--Replacing bad teachers. Obama said there should be a way to remove bad teachers from the profession, but said he was open to a variety of ways to do that.

--Pay for performance. He repeated his admiration for programs, such as on in Dayton, that gives extra pay to teachers who demonstrate high performance.

--Longer school days. He hinted that the U.S. may have to consider instituting a longer school day, pointing to other nations that have it.

--Graduation rate. Obama pledged to make the U.S. No. 1 for high school graduation rate. (I noticed he didn't pledge to make the country No.1 in the world for test scores.)

--College level courses. He said he wants to increase by 50 percent the number of high school kids taking college level or AP courses.

--Innovative school funds. He wants special funds targeted to support schools trying new ideas.

--New charter accountability. In addition to giving more money to charter schools, Obama called for stricter accountability to shut down bad charter schools.

--After school and summer school. Citing China he said if other nations can offer these programs, the U.S. should find a way to do the same.

--New classroom technology. Obama said he wanted to improve school technology by adding new tools like video "smart boards" and student laptops to classrooms.

--Paying for it all. Obama said all this could be paid for by redirecting the cost of just a few days in Iraq

--Testing. He was critical of "teaching to the test" and called on teachers to be a part of an effort to create "new assessments" for the future.

--Accountability. Obama called for "parent contracts" in which parents would promise to do their part to help their kids in school and promised an annual address to the nation to discuss progress toward education goals.

This post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.

(Image credit: Jan Underwood, Dayton Daily News)

Obama touts charters, performance pay, after school programs in Ohio

Today I'm at a Dayton, Ohio, high school where Barack Obama will make what is being described as a "major policy speech" on education.

For excerpts from Obama's upcoming speech touting charter schools, teacher performance pay and after school programs, hop over to the Get on the Bus education blog.

What is Barack Obama's take on education? That's not as easy to explain as you might think. To learn more about the battle within the Democratic Party two big education camps for Obama's allegiance, go here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Proving ‘community organizer’ isn’t a dirty word (or phrase)

Obama's education advisors aren't shying away from the candidate's "community organizer" history, despite jabs at last week's Republican convention.
Nope, he's two trustee ed folks are going all-out and hosting a series of conference calls on Obama's 10-point education platform.
According to Ed Week, the nightly conference calls will include topics like the senator’s $10 billion plan for early education.

The Obama straddle...

More evidence of Obama straddling the competing education camps within the Democratic Party is found in this Paul Tough piece in the most recent New York Times Sunday Magazine. It's same dilemma I wrote about recently while guest blogging for Eduwonk, pegged to the Denver Art Museum gathering prior to the start of the Democratic convention.

Richard Whitmire

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Republican Student Vote

Eight years ago, when he ran against George W. Bush in the Republican primary, John McCain held both the maverick label and the support of many college students.

But in this year's Republican contest, Ron Paul was the darling of many students on college campuses, even after he left the Republican race, and that support was still evident among the many young voters who skipped class to be at his daylong rally on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

The presence of thousands of supporters of Representative Paul, a septuagenarian libertarian from Texas, is a reminder to Mr. McCain and his supporters, gathered this week across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, that they will have to compete for the youngest voters. And they face a tough fight against the Democratic candidate in the general election, Barack Obama, who even the president of the College Republicans says sometimes seems like he's "running to be a pop star."

While Mr. McCain leads Mr. Obama among all other age groups of voters, he trails him among those ages 18 to 34, 37 percent to 55 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted late last month.

So, what happened? Did Senator McCain change? Or did young voters?

Read The Chronicle's story, by Karin Fischer, to find out what political scientists and others say.

We also have this video of students explaining why they support Mr. Paul.

Other Chronicle coverage of the Republican convention, including reports on student protests, what college students are doing at the convention, how young delegates responded to Sarah Palin's speech, and other topics can be followed on our Campaign U. blog.

GOP Platform on Higher Education

The party platform Republicans approved this week in St. Paul provides red meat to conservative voters, decrying the "leftist dogmatism that dominates" many colleges and opposing efforts to provide education benefits to some illegal immigrants, a break once strongly advocated by John McCain.

In another difference with Senator McCain's positions, the platform advocates a total ban on research using embryonic stem cells. Senator McCain has said he supports federal financing of programs that use amniotic fluid and adult stem cells and "other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos." As a senator, Mr. McCain has voted in favor of allowing research on human embryos left over from fertility treatments.

On other fronts, the platform document singles out for praise colleges that spend more of their endowment funds on student aid, a cause championed by some Congressional Republicans, and calls for a presidential commission to examine the "tuition spiral." And it acknowledges the key role that higher education must play in maintaining the United States' innovative edge in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Unlike the policy statement approved last week by Democrats at their convention in Denver, the Republican platform says little about expanding student aid, even as it decries the increase in college costs. Instead, it notes Republicans' past advocacy of measures to provide tax incentives for families to save for college and expresses support for private lenders in the student-loan marketplace.

See The Chronicle's story, by Karin Fischer, for more details about the Republican platform's provisions related to higher education.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McCain lukewarm on NCLB?

That's what Alyson Klein at Education Week is reporting, and I agree. My betting is that McCain would be far more likely than Obama to let the air of No Child Left Behind's accountability system. Cracking the whip on states just isn't in McCain's heart.

Richard Whitmire

Obama's ed advisers

Last week, we noted that McCain's education adviser blogged during the DNC convention for Eduwonk. Now Obama's advisers are following suit. They're starting with a 10-point education plan.

Democrats sparring unions?

Democratic platform on education doesn't sit well with many union leaders, as this article by USA Today's Greg Toppo lays out. While school reformers have staked out a place at Obama's political table this election, it appears likely the candidate will split the differences throughout the campaign. If elected, Obama may not have to show his hand until it comes to reauthorizing No Child Left Behind.

Richard Whitmire

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin on Higher Education

When Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate, ran for governor of Alaska two years ago she touted her support for the state's university system, calling it a resource, an economic driver, and a cornerstone of pride for Alaskans.

Ms. Palin, who is the first woman and youngest person to have been elected governor of Alaska, has not made higher education an especially prominent priority of her administration. But the state's government--which is enjoying an economic boom, thanks to rising oil and natural-gas prices--has recently been treating the University of Alaska system well, at least in terms of its budget.

For the 2008-9 budget year, the university system received a 7-percent increase in funds, only the fourth time in 20 years that the system has won an increase greater than the state's fixed-cost requirement. The university plans to use the extra money to expand programs in high-demand fields, such as health and engineering, and to support research into climate change, energy, and biomedical sciences. The state also provided a fourfold increase in the university's budget for deferred maintenance, which rose to $48-million.

When she was running for governor in 2006, Ms. Palin laid out several plans for the university system. She said her administration would provide "an appropriate level" of funds for the system, adding that it had been "consistently under-funded" since the mid-1980s.

She also touted the importance of generally supporting university research and the role of the system in work-force development, including preparing people for jobs building and operating a natural-gas pipeline. "The time is now," she said on her "Sarah Palin for Governor" Web site, "to prepare the workforce for the gasline economy."

She also promised to expand nursing programs, touted the need to create a state need-based aid program, and committed to helping reduce the university's backlog of deferred-maintenance projects.

Here is the link to our original post on The Chronicle's Campaign U. blog.

Obama Puts College at Center of His Own American Dream

As he formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president last night, Barack Obama said it was "time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy."

Mr. Obama also put college squarely in the center of his own American dream, calling it part of the "fundamental promise that has made this country great—a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight."

"Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan," he said, "I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

"In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree, who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships."

See The Chronicle's story today, by Kelly Field, for more details about what the Democratic nominee said last night about higher education.

We also have posted a video of college students who attended the convention in Denver explaining why they support Senator Obama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

College Students at the Convention

Chronicle reporter Kelly Field has continued to file a series of dispatches from Denver at our Campaign U. blog.

Among the items that have been posted there over the past two days are:

A video in which college students who supported Hillary Clinton explain how they now feel about Barack Obama;

An item about professors and students who are using the convention as a teaching tool; and

A summary of a panel discussion about activists' efforts to get out the youth vote in new ways.

You can also read about how students rate Jill Biden as a community-college instructor.

For-Profit Colleges Want to Hear More About Higher Ed

The Career College Association didn't need to hire a caterer for the reception it threw this week in Denver aimed at keeping higher education front and center in the minds (and stomachs) of delegates to the Democratic National Convention. That's one of the advantages of being an association with a nearby culinary college in your membership ranks.

Using the Art Institute of Colorado as its venue, the association feted a couple of hundred delegates and others with dishes prepared by students -- grilled skirt steak garnished with pesto, Gorgonzola cheese, and arugula, a chicken-and-penne pasta dish, and tiramisu for dessert -- while also entertaining them with demonstrations of the ice- and watermelon-sculpting skills and industrial-design techniques taught at the institute.

Harris Miller, president of the association, said he hoped the event's message would stick with the delegates long after the rich food had been digested. "Neither presidential campaign has spoken enough about higher education and the importance of career education to our economy," said Mr. Miller, in an telephone interview with Chronicle reporter Goldie Blumenstyk.

Mr. Miller said the political leaders needed to focus more on how education could help the country improve its economic competitiveness, but so far, he said, those debates have centered on other issues. "The people who hate immigrants and the people who hate trade are more vocal," he said. "It's kind of frustrating."

The association plans to hold a similar event at an Art Institutes International of Minnesota next week, during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

John McCain adviser

Eduwonk, which featured our own president Richard Whitmire last week, is being guest blogged by John McCain education adviser Virginia Walden Ford this week.

She offers her perspective on the Democratic national convention and also illuminates McCain's education policies on evaluating teachers, early childhood education, and virtual learning.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC: Skyboxes, Unions, and School Choice

More highlights from the Democratic National Convention, via EdWeek's Campaign K-12 blog:

ED in '08 is looking beyond '08.

Look who gets a skybox view of Hillary Clinton's speech.

AFT delegates, for the most part, are leaving Clinton behind and moving on.

Democrats are embracing school choice (okay,just some of them.)

--Michele McNeil
Education Week

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Union Tensions at DNC

There are two of us from Education Week here in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, and although education is not the hottest topic, there's certainly plenty for David Hoff and I to write about.

We're blogging several times a day over at EdWeek's Campaign K-12, but here are some highlights so far, and it's only Tuesday:

Folks from the Education Equality project engage in some union-bashing, prompting AFT president Randi Weingarten to tell me she's "really pissed."

Three educators get prime, on-stage speaking parts in last night's festivities.

And, school choice advocates gather at the Denver Country Club to talk ed reform.

For what it's worth: Obama's votes on education

First, it should be noted that this is from a blog called "From the Mind of . . . Sanity Optional," but in the spirit of embracing the premise that bloggers have time to do things journalist do not, here's a look at Obama's supposed voting record on education.

Like I said, for what it's worth!

Democratic Platform Proposes More Money for Student Aid and Research

The policy platform that Democrats approved at their convention yesterday promises more federal student aid, greater support for research, and an end to the politicization of science.

It largely mirrors Barack Obama's plans for education and science, including proposals the presumed nominee has pressed to provide a refundable $4,000 education tax credit in exchange for public service and to simplify the process of applying for student aid by allowing families to apply by checking a box on their federal income-tax forms.

The document also promises to double federal funds for basic science research, make the research-and-development tax credit permanent, and lift the ban on the use of federal money for research involving embryonic stem cells that would otherwise have been discarded.

And on the subject of racial preferences, the document states: "We support affirmative action, including in federal contracting and higher education, to make sure that those locked out of the doors of opportunity will be able to walk through those doors in the future."

See The Chronicle's story today, written by Kelly Field, for more details about what the document proposes for higher education.

For continuing coverage of the convention, check out our Campaign U. blog.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Live and in color: DNC educator delegates speak

David Hoff from Ed Week has posted video with DNC educator delegates offering their opinion on Obama’s platform. Check it out.

Biden's Record on Higher Education

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is better known for his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee than for his higher-education proposals. But the six-term congressman from Delaware has championed college-affordability issues during his tenure and is also pretty familiar with the inside of a college classroom.

Senator Biden, tapped on Saturday as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, has taught a seminar on constitutional law at Widener University School of Law since 1991. His wife, Jill, is a longtime educator who teaches English at Delaware Technical & Community College.

During Senator Biden's brief Democratic presidential primary run last fall, he made college access and affordability some of the major themes of his campaign. Among other proposals, Senator Biden recommended replacing two existing federal tax breaks for college expenses with a refundable tax credit of up to $3,000 per year meant to cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a public two-year college and more than half of those at a public four-year college.

For more on Senator Biden's higher-education background and record, see The Chronicle's story today and also our Campaign U. coverage of his campaign for the presidential nomination last fall.

Chronicle lays out higher education differences...

Sara Hebel does a nice job here contrasting the McCain/Obama positions on higher education. We can expect more coverage like this in the coming days.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And what about Native American children?

Native American groups are pressing the candidates to get clear about plans to improve Native-focused education polities.
Check out what Indian Country reported on where the candidates stand.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

McCain Takes a Stand Against Affirmative Action

John McCain has come out in support of a proposed ballot initiative in his home state of Arizona that would bar public colleges and other state agencies from using racial and ethnic preferences.

He announced his support for the measure in an interview last month on ABC’s This Week.

The position that Senator McCain took was regarded as a reversal of his stand on the issue a decade ago. Back in 1998, he had called such measures “divisive.” Referenda with language like the Arizona ballot measure’s also have been proposed in Colorado and Nebraska.

Barack Obama told a gathering of minority journalists in Chicago that he was “disappointed” in the position Senator McCain had taken and described such ballot measures as “all too often designed to drive a wedge between people.”

Senator Obama provided detailed responses to questions about his stance on affirmative action in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted last fall.

Education politiking in Denver...

As always, Russo is all over the politics of education, keeping tabs on the Denver events with the Democrats. Worth a read is this on an event by Democrats for Education Reform. And check two posts below for a good analysis on McCain endorsing the Klein/Sharpton effort.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What if the unions endorsed the wrong guy?

Okay, I agree it sounds improbable, but give the logic a chance. Here's a commentary I wrote that was just published in Edweek.

Richard Whitmire

Obama presses the buttons of online ed community

More details are coming out about Obama's education platform, and supporters of online education are miffed at the Senator's skepticism of virtual schools.

A memo from the Obama camp posted by Ed Week said the Illinois senator disagrees with McCain's idea to offer scholarships for online courses and to develop virtual schools saying they would be difficult for states to supervise.

“Many online schools are for-profit ventures and may siphon money away from public schools,” the Obama campaign memo said. called his stance "unsophisticated."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Russo on the latest McCain move...

Alexander Russo nicely captures the political maneuvering behind McCain's shrewd endorsement of the Sharpton/Klein campaign.

Friday, August 1, 2008

McCain Hits Obama on Education

Over at EdWeek's Campaign K-12, check out Alyson Klein's post on John McCain's endorsement today of the Education Equality Project, touted by some big-name superintendents like New York City's Joel Klein and Washington D.C.'s Michelle Rhee. McCain criticizes Obama for not signing on in support, and for sending his kids to private school while at the same time opposing vouchers that could afford low-income families the same opportunity.

His speech is already drawing some negative reaction from expected people, like the AFT's Randi Weingarten. However, Klein and Al Sharpton, both Democrats, issued a statement in support of McCain's move, which you can read here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The education picture gets a little clearer

NPR offers its take on the differences between McCain and Obama’s approach to education, along with some details about who is advising the two candidates.

The transcribed article points out that Obama, if elected, would be the first president to require all teacher colleges to be accredited. But with more states allowing alternative licensing programs to combat teacher shortages, it’ll be interesting to see how that idea in particular plays among governors.

How education becomes an '08 issue

David Brooks' column in the New York Times today lays out a logical path: The flat lining of higher education attainment in the United States forecasts future problems in international competitiveness.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Guideposts for attacking Obama on education

Wall Street Journal today offers advice to Sen. McCain on going after Sen. Obama on education. The Illinois senator sends his daughters to a pricey school in Chicago while opposing vouchers for poor children.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another take on that Johnston meeting...

Here's how Flypaper summed up the session with Obama education adviser Mike Johnston.

note: edited to correct link.

Obama education aide meets the press

Over at Education Week's Campaign K-12, David Hoff offers this summary of a meeting today between the national press and one of Obama's top education advisers:

Obama Adviser Touts 'Comprehensive' Education Solutions
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 level of funding and the quality of assessments aren't. Johnston added that Obama believes a federal accountability system could measure students' reading and math skills while not narrowing the curriculum to those areas.
"It's a false choice," the Denver-area principal said. "There's a way to do both."
When asked to comment on the education agenda that
Sen. John McCain announced last week, Johnston said it isn't, well, comprehensive.
McCain had plenty to say about expanding choice and tutoring, Johnston said, but nothing about pre-K, college financial aid, or how to fix NCLB. "There wasn't anything that addressed the 90 percent of students that are in public schools," Johnston said.

Obama's sister speaks to teachers

While Obama continues his oversees visit, his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, was in Florida talking to teachers on his behalf.

Soetoro-Ng said she remembers her first year teaching when she ended up crying every week.

"There were so many problems, I was teaching in a title one district and over 80 percent of the community lived below the poverty line. And poverty does impact education," she said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GOP Asks Public for Input on Accountability in Education

The Republican national committee is asking for public input as it constructs the party's policy platform.

Among the issues the Republican platform committee is urging online visitors to weigh in on is "accountability in education."

"Republicans will develop a party platform that seeks to improve the American educational system at all levels," party officials declare on their Web page where they then provide visitors a series of questions designed to provoke input.

Among them are: How should government address high tuition expenses? Is there a problem with too much ideological dogmatism in higher education? How should the federal government respond to colleges and universities that insist upon discriminating against the United States military?

Within a week after Republicans unveiled their online platform building project, Democrats announced that they would provide a similar venue for public input.

Obama education coordinator

Russo post identifies (and pictures) Harvard Law grad Danielle Gray as Obama's overseer of education policy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Russo on the political aides...

Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo looks at how political aides can step on the message, including the education message. More screw-up opportunities arriving shortly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

McCain's Ed Plan

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). Education Week's Alyson Klein is in Cincinnati covering the speech, and I hope to include thoughts from her later. Here are 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 virtual schools and expand other online offerings for students. He wants to allow tutoring programs to bypass "local bureaucracy" for certification under No Child Left Behind and go straight to the even larger bureaucracy of the federal government for direct certification.

  • On technology—He proposes a $250 million grant program to states who want to further expand online learning opportunities and another $250 million in scholarships for students who want to take advantage of online tutors or virtual schools.

  • On teacher quality—McCain would dedicate 60 percent of the $3 billion under NCLB's Title II to incentive bonuses (not exactly merit pay) for teachers who teach in hard-to-staff schools or subjects, and who are highest achieving (which, to me, means their students make the biggest gains on tests.) He wants to devote 5 percent to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class, and the remaining 35 percent of Title II money would go to professional development.

Notably, his plan offers very little detail about how he might approach the reauthorization of NCLB. His only specific plan is to open up tutoring programs to federal certification, but beyond that, his plan talks more about the "promise" of NCLB than the specifics. In fact, during his speech—according to the transcript as prepared for delivery—he didn't even mention the words "No Child Left Behind."

(This is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Funding NCLB, McCain's Advisers Can't Agree

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.

So which is it? Does he want to spend more money on NCLB or not?

One huge difference between the two presidential candidates is spending. Sen. Barack Obama wants to spend an additional $18 billion a year to improve education, while McCain has said he wants to get control of the federal budget by freezing discretionary spending (including on education programs) until the new administration can determine which programs work, and which don't.

Did McCain's advisor, Carly Fiorina, misspeak on Meet the Press when she was rattling off a list of changes the Arizona senator would like to see? Or, is McCain re-thinking his position on funding NCLB?

Stay tuned. Perhaps he'll bring this up at tomorrow's speech before the NAACP.

(This is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

How will Obama change NCLB?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are speculating about the fate of No Child Left Behind come January when a new president is sworn in.

Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School, has some interesting thoughts about what will happen to the law under a McCain presidency and an Obama presidency, and she offers some insight on how education policy is shaped at the national level.

Gallagher also says she’s heard some names swirling around as potential Obama picks for Secretary of Education, including including a few school superintendents from major cities and Stanford University professor and Obama education adviser Linda Darling-Hammond.

How do you think the law will change?

Fun campaign stuff...

This offering from Inside Higher Ed :

You expected serious discussion of higher education on the campaign trail? Sen. Barack Obama is being attacked by some anti-immigration groups for suggesting that more Americans should learn to speak foreign languages. Obama is sticking with his position. Sen. John McCain, meanwhile, is being subjected to online analysis for his statement that the University of Southern California (his wife’s alma mater) is “the University of Spoiled Children.” Some observers think a little university-bashing may be good for the McCain campaign, some at USC aren’t amused, while still others are upset that Cindy McCain is being described as having been a cheerleader at the university when she was actually a “song girl.”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Obama gives his take on education at rally

(Obama speaks at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, Ohio, Friday)

Here's the good news: Dayton Daily News political reporter Laura Bischoff got a one-on-one interview with Barack Obama following his speech today at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton.

Now the bad news. She walked in for the meeting and an Obama handler literally held up a stop watch and said, "You have five minutes. Go!"

Five minutes isn't time to cover much ground. This is the second time a DDN reporter has gotten a one-on-one interview with Obama since the campaign began. My colleague Lynn Hulsey got five minutes to ask him questions a few months ago during the primaries.

In both cases, I hopefully slipped a couple education questions to Hulsey and Bischoff. But in both cases, questions about the economy were priority No. 1 and there wasn't time to get much beyond that. I know time is precious to a presidential campaign, but really, five minutes is not being fair.

Thankfully a teacher from Cincinnati bailed me out Friday.

During the queston and answer period after Obama's speech on energy, he called on a woman with an Obama T-shirt who identified herself as a Cincinnati teacher who asked this question:

"What would you do to correct president Bush's 'every child left behind' policy?'"

That brought a roar from the crowd, but also an extended answer about education policy from Obama. Here's what he said:

"It's important to try to be fair. The basic concept of No Child Left Behind was a good one. We should raise our standards so every child succeeds. And I agree with the notion that we should have a qualified teacher in every classroom. We are not competing, the folks here in Dayton, just against kids in Chicago and Miami. You are competing with kids in China and Bangalore.

The problem was in the execution. What the president did was he left the money behind for No Child Left Behind. We are asking schools to do more but not devoting more resources. The second problem is higher standards are measured only by a single high stakes standardized test and that test was administered sort of midway through year. It wasn't measuring progress. That made teachers and administrators worry that they needed to teach to the test because even if they do a good job, it may not show up on the test. That made it more difficult for teachers and less inspiring for students.

Some schools even eliminated art, music and foreign language. You know, I said something other day about foreign language and Republicans jumped on it. Let me be clear. I Absolutely believe immigrants need to learn English. But we also need to learn foreign languages. This is an example of problems we get into when somebody attacks you for telling truth. We should want kids with more knowledge. That is a good thing. I know because I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing.

We need to change how measures of progress works. A standardized test given at the beginning of year would give teachers a tool to know where kids are starting. If they want, they can have another test at the end of year to see how they end up. In the middle, let teachers do what they do best, which is teach. We need to work with teachers to develop other assessment tools to be sure we are making progress.

There are some other things we need to do. We need to invest in early childhood education to close achievement gap. If they start behind they fall further behind as time goes by. We need to pay teachers more and give them more support. We need to expand after school and summer programs so young people have place to do homework and are not on the street getting into trouble. In many cases today, you don't have a choice for one parent to stay home. You have to have two parents working and kids need some place to go with supervision.

We also need to make college affordable. My plan is for a $4,000 tuition credit every year of college in exchange for community or national service by joining the peace corps or teaching in inner city school or joining the service.

Let me say something else. The government can do all kinds of good things. I can fix No Child Left Behind but if parents don't care then it is not going to work. Parents, you need to turn off TV set once in a while and put away the video game and met with your child's teacher and make sure they are doing their homework and have a curfew.

And if you child gets in trouble at school, don't curse out the teacher. We need some home training to go with a more intense effort by government."

(Image credit: Lisa Powell, DDN)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NEA still an 800-pound election gorilla?

Maybe. The union certainly has the clout to operate phone banks and knock on doors. The case that this year might be different is made here, in Politico, by me...Richard Whitmire

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

McCain to Talk Merit Pay, Tutoring

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 about schools. Given all of the focus now on domestic issues, particularly the economy, job losses and global competition, I was beginning to wonder how long McCain could wait before he started talking seriously about the role of education.

(This is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama gets girlie

Presidential contender Barack Obama didn’t miss an opportunity to show his love for the ladies, and to tell them he understands that some glass ceilings still exist. (This from the man who built Hillary Clinton’s roof.)

Obama marked the 36th anniversary of Title IX — the act of Congress that makes sure boys and girls programs are equally funded — by offering up some sympathetic comments about how far women in this country still have to go.

"Too many of America's daughters grow up facing barriers to their dreams,” he said. “Women's sports still often get short shrift in high school and college. High school vocational courses still tend to guide women toward lower-paying occupations. And when Americans need new skills to compete in this 21st century economy, women still make up fewer than one in five of our engineering graduates, and the number entering computer and information sciences programs is on the decline."

Obama pledged he would strengthen Title IX, if elected president, and would ask high schools to report data on equality in athletic programs, just like colleges do.

Wonder if this is an effort to win over Hillary supporters?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Watch Jeb, think John...

Yes, Lisa Graham Keegan remains the top education adviser to John McCain, but the Republican contender has also consulted on education issues with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has chosen education as his new post-gov cause, according to this St. Pete article. Here's how the paper described this week's Orlando conference organized by Bush-created foundations:

It's an unprecedented gathering of national and international education experts and politicians — all wooed by the Bush foundations. Speakers include Bloomberg, the New York City mayor registered as an independent; and the New York City schools chancellor, a Democrat.
The agenda is packed, and dense, with panel discussions with titles like "21st Century Classrooms: Harnessing Cutting-Edge Technology to Raise Student Achievement." Other topics include measuring performance and teacher quality (which Bush aimed to do with the FCAT), and a panel, not surprisingly, entitled "The Case for Vouchers: Students learn. Taxpayers save. All schools improve."
Known as a policy wonk, Bush has always reveled in the complicated intricacies and details of education policy. He won national attention for his brand of education reform, which emphasizes standardized testing and school choice through charter schools and private school vouchers.

I think it's safe to assume we can expect to hear similar ideas coming from the McCain campaign when they unveil their education agenda in the fall...richard whitmire

Obama: Live and Uncut

Obama's town hall on education and college affordability from Detroit is up on his Web site.

Obama again says education is the great equalizer and uses his own history (born to a teenage mom, daddy split) as an example.

I can't help but think this is also an opportunity for Obama to reach out to the blue collar folks we've heard so much about. Heck, he's even wearing a blue shirt.


Education still matters, at least for voters

We keep hearing that education isn't a hot topic for candidates during this presidential election, but that doesn't mean voters aren't interested.

The Detroit Free Press says Obama's stance on education is actually helping him win some undecided voters.

Wonder if this is the case in other cities?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is Obama pro education reform or more of the same?

David Brooks' opinion piece in the New York Times says there are two education camps a politician can subscribe to: The reformist and the traditionalist.

The reformist, he says, believes public schools work, but that they need to be restructured to put kids first rather than adults. He put people like D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in this camp.

There's also the traditionalist camp, says social problems are at the root of public school troubles. They support spending on social programs, smaller class sizes, etc.

So the question is, where does Obama fall?

Brooks says right now, its not totally clear. What do you think?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keegan meeting....

Below, Michele does a great job summing up what we learned today from the session with Lisa Graham Keegan at Fordham. There was some frustration as the national reporters repeatedly tried to pin Keegan down on specifics, which she was reluctant to offer.

I walked away not knowing whether the specifics actually exist -- or she's simply not at liberty to discuss them. McCain won't be releasing his education plan until the fall.

Then I realized I was missing the big picture from that gathering, which is actually quite clear and specific: McCain will be calling the No Child Left Behind bluff that all children will end up as proficient learners in 2014. Everybody knows that won't happen, but you won't hear that message from the White House or Department of Education.

And McCain won't be pretending that states, with almost no federal help, can somehow patch up (reconstitute) all the schools that fail for five straight years. It's obvious those schools aren't being fixed.

So while Keegan spent an hour dancing around any details of what McCain will actually do, she made it clear that the campaign will draw a sharp line with the Bush administration with this message: No pretending.

Hence, the first education shots fired from the McCain campaign veered closer to the White House than the Obama campaign.

Richard Whitmire

McCain Adviser on NCLB Funding, Vouchers, and Growth Models

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. (This is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog at EdWeek, and though it's longer than most blog items, it seemed relevant to relay what she said.)

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 programs, including the largest program under the NCLB law, Title I. Though as president he may seek to re-allocate money between programs, McCain believes the NCLB law is "adequately funded," Keegan said. So states and schools shouldn't look for any additional federal dollars in a McCain budget.

Second, Keegan said that while the senator is a big supporter of vouchers and private and public school choice, he does not support using Title I money for private school vouchers. She didn't rule out that he would not come up with some sort of private school choice plan, but this doesn't seem to be a focus for him.

As far as other specific plans for NCLB, Keegan hit on three big themes. First, McCain supports using growth models to measure student achievement—but specifically wants to ensure that subgroups of students are making overall progress (and not just toward the goal of every child being proficient by the end of the 2013-14 school year.) For example, she said McCain wants to make sure gifted students are improving, too.

McCain also wants to move away from sanctions and instead use tutoring and public school choice as "opportunities" for children and families rather than as punishments for schools. And perhaps more importantly, he wants to make the aid available to families immediately without waiting two or three years. And maintaining the current sanction of restructuring schools at five years if they are failing to meet adequate yearly progress isn't a priority for him, either. In addition, McCain will work more closely with governors to come up with other options for addressing failing schools, she said.

McCain also wants to move away from the 2014 proficiency deadline, as many other education advocates support.

In defending McCain's perceived lack of interest in education, Keegan said that it wasn't because the candidate is not passionate—but because he believes a "renaissance" in education is possible and that his plan will be more meaningful, and more at odds with the current public education system.

"It's very easy to write a detailed program for an old system," Keegan said in criticizing Sen. Barack Obama's plan, which has been on his Web site for months.

As far as McCain's education plan to be unveiled in the fall, Keegan said it will focus on standards, accountability, delivering information on these issues to the public, and more direct intervention. He will "insist" on giving principals the power to use differential pay for teachers. And, expect the issue of international benchmarking to appear in his plan, too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Education policy never seemed so easy

Deborah White from has posted this easy guide to understanding Obama's stance on education issues. It includes info about his stance on teacher training and recruitment, NCLB reform and the nation's dropout rate.

Some of these topics are a little thin, but that's probably because Obama's just starting to openly discuss education in detail. It'll be interesting to see how that changes, or develops, during the campaign.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Obama vs. McCain (the advisers, that is)

Over at Education Week's Campaign K-12 blog, my colleague Alyson Klein sums up the forum today that featured education advisers from the Obama and McCain campaigns.

The gist? "They managed to cover a lot of ground without getting into a lot of specificity, in very campaign-like fashion," Alyson writes.

Former Arizona state schools' chief Lisa Graham Keegan represented McCain, while Jeanne Century, director of research and evaluation at the University of Chicago's Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, appeared on behalf of the Obama camp. At the forum, hosted by the Association of Educational Publishers, the two delved into the subjects of merit pay, Reading First, and federal funding. Read Alyson's full summary here.

Obama would tax the wealthy to fund schools

USA Today is reporting that likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama plans to pump more money into education, though he didn't offer specifics.

Obama said he would tax the wealthy, among other groups, to pay for the additions.

Do y'all think Sen. McCain will adopt the same strategy?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What does a black candidate mean for black students?

In district's across the country, including in Nashville where I am based, schools are becoming more segregated and school boards and trying to figure out how to balance the desire for diversity with the ability to provide a good education.
Seattle columnist Jerry Large offers some thought about how the nomination of Barack Obama intersects with the resegregation trend in Seattle schools.
If Obama becomes President do you think black public school students will be better off? Why?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama talks education

The WebWorld is still buzzing about Obama's May 28 speech "What's possible for our Children." Some are saying it's a sign we're going to be chatting about education during this election season after all.
Check out the whole text of the speech at the Denver Post.
Any thoughts about what aspect of education the new nominee should focus on?

NEA to endorse Obama

The Associated Press is reporting that the National Education Association will endorse Sen. Barack Obama.

From the AP story:

Teachers Union to endorse Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's largest teachers union plans to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama now that the Illinois senator has clinched his party's nomination.

National Education Association President Reg Weaver said he will ask for a formal vote of endorsement at the NEA's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in July, but that is likely to be just a formality.

"It's now apparent that Senator Obama has secured the necessary number of delegates to win the Democratic nomination," Weaver said. "With such a clear picture of what Senator Obama will do for public education and his commitment to partner with NEA on issues that affect our members across the country, every public school employee needs to get squarely behind the Obama candidacy."

The National Education Association represents 3.2 million teachers, administrators and other education professionals.

Obama crashes high school graduation

Talk about a graduation to remember. Check out this story out of St. Paul, Minn. about a two ceremonies held near the Xcel Energy Center where Obama's Tuesday night rally took place.
Gives a whole new meaning to "Yes we can!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

US News examines the issue of education and the campaign

They're like the kid in the back of the classroom with his hand raised, whom the teacher never gets to call on because the other students are shouting for attention. Education activists thought that the 2008 presidential campaign would be their opportunity to make progress on the multitude of troubles besieging the nation's schools: low test scores, high dropout rates, teen violence, skyrocketing college costs. Then along came the tumbling economy, climbing gas prices, continued problems in Iraq, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

So writes Dana Hawkins-Simons in US News and World Report about why education has not really taken off as an issue.

The magazine also gives a glimpse of the candidates' education advisers.

It also offers a capsule of each candidate's positions on education, including No Child Left Behind, teacher pay, and higher education affordability.

Monday, May 12, 2008

McCain, the NEA, and his Education Bench

At my publication, Education Week, we've been trying to get a complete list of John McCain's education advisers, but with little success. Leave it to the fine folks at Fordham to one-up us.Here, you can checkout the complete list they've obtained.

A few of the advisers are crossovers from Mitt Romney's camp, including former education department officials William D. Hansen and Eugene W. Hickok. And we've known that former Arizona state superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan was on the list. Also filling McCain's education bench is Williamson Evers, who has amassed a list of enemies who may have helped briefly stall his Senate confirmation last year to the U.S. Department of Education.

Officially missing from the list is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is likely taking on a more informal, though probably no less influential, advising role.

Also of interest in the blogsphere today is a post by union watchdog Mike Antonucci, who talks of how McCain polls unusually well with members of the National Education Association, whose endorsement is still outstanding. Antonucci notes that 41 percent of NEA members have a "positive opinion" of McCain. My question is: Does that translate into votes? There are a lot of folks out there who respect McCain's service to his country, and maybe even some of his stances on policy issues, but who may not vote for him come November.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

McCain and the Pledge: Judges Run Amok

Over at my Campaign K-12 blog, my colleague who covers the school legal beat at Education Week authored a post on John McCain's judicial philosophy. Specifically, Mark Walsh highlights McCain's use of a case involving the Pledge of Allegiance to illustrate that judges have "run amok."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Clinton Weighs in on Tumult in Student-Loan Industry

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last week unveiled a plan to ensure that students are not left without money for college as a result of the withdrawal over recent weeks of dozens of lenders from the guaranteed-student-loan program.

Her ideas, outlined in this news release, largely mirror action Congress is already taking or urging.

Here's a link to The Chronicle's Campaign U. blog item on Senator Clinton's plan.

You can clock her

I owe Alexander Russo again (the man is incredible about staying on top of every little story) for noting a Bloomberg piece on what the presidential candidates say on the trail, as opposed to what is reported in the news. You can read the piece, written by Kristin Jensen, here. She notes Clinton gets applause when denouncing No Child Left Behind -- the latest reauthorization of the Elementary And Secondary Education Act, which she supported as a member of the Senate education committee -- and usually devotes about a fifth of her 30-35 minute stump speeches to education. Jensen's story notes education took up 6 minutes of a recent speech.
We've heard much of it: she's for universal Pre-K. She's concerned about financial assistance for college students. We need better teachers in the classroom. But Jensen writes that Clinton also complains the feds don't provide enough funds for NCLB, not a new complaint by any means. And Clinton claims the law requires teachers to "teach to the test." No details or analysis about what that means, though, or explanations of how you gauge whether students have learned the info and skills in their state's math, reading and science standards (whether difficult, easy or dumbfounding).
If any of us has the chance to get in a few questions as this campaign continues its I'm-not-dead-yet psuh toward June, it would be good to dig under those sound bites and find out whether she's talking changes for the next reauthorization (and what those changes might be), or if she really wants to toss the law and come up with something completely new.
~ Cathy Grimes
Newport News Daily Press

McCain's Support for GI Bill Expansion Remains Elusive

John McCain has come under intense pressure from veterans groups to endorse legislation that would expand education benefits for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure has been gaining momentum in Congress and may be attached to a war spending measure that Congress is expected to take up soon.

As my colleague outlines on The Chronicle's Campaign U. blog this week, the lead sponsor of the legislation, Sen. James H. Webb Jr., a Virginia Democrat, has secured 58 co-sponsors for his bill, only two votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. But Senator McCain, a fellow Vietnam veteran, is not among them.

Senator Webb’s bill would cover up to the full cost of a four-year education at a public college, and supporters see Senator McCain’s backing as key to the bill’s prospects.

The senator, who often touts his military credentials on the campaign trail, has said he will co-sponsor a less costly Republican alternative instead. That bill, which has far fewer co-sponsors than Senator Webb’s bill, would provide a smaller initial benefit but raise the award after 12 years of service to encourage re-enlistment. The Defense Department has warned that providing too generous an educational benefit could harm retention rates.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

McCain's education temptations

I'm not alone in writing about the school choice options McCain could push in the campaign -- if the campaign chose to elevate the issue. This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal lays out the voucher possibilities. My recent Politico piece looked more at charters and the implications of choosing Lisa Graham Keegan as a top adviser. McCain's advisers, however, caution against expecting to see education float to the top of the campaign issues. The war and the troubled economy will most likely continue to dominate, they predict.

Richard Whitmire