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 About.com 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!"