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)