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.