Sunday, January 13, 2008

CC picks a Candidate Chapter Two: Education

TheCSO thought I shouldn't bother with Paul, so I decided to compare Romney and McCain instead.

I am using the candidates' websites and only their websites to write this. Also, I'm going to tell you how easy it is to find each topic on the website as I assume there's a rough correlation between the percieved importance of the issue by the campaign and how easy to find it is.

Lots of the below is word-for-word, sometimes I've paraphrased for space.

I'm going to throw in a bonus question for each subject. For education, it's "What do they think about No Child Left Behind?"

Edwards on Education:

How easy is it to find on the website: Not very. Go to issues and it is in the third group of issues over halfway down the page.

Ideas:-Fund Universal pre-school
-$5,000+ bonuses for teachers that teach in “bad” schools
-A teachers university “West Point for teachers,” that will train high-quality teachers for “bad” schools

On “No child left behind”: Edwards will radically overhaul No Child Left Behind to live up to its goal of helping all children learn at high levels. The law today judges children based on cheap standardized tests, forces schools to narrow the curriculum, fails to accurately identify struggling schools, and imposes unproven cookie-cutter reforms. Edwards supports better tests, broader measures of school success such as measuring students' progress, and giving states more resources and flexibility to identify and reform underperforming schools.

Obama on Education:

How easy is it to find on the website: Very easy. It’s third on a drop-down menu on the front page leads to a page with a bunch of interesting but somewhat vague ideas. From there you can get a PDF with a 15-page education plan

-Create Early Learning Challenge Grants to stimulate and help fund state “zero to five” efforts.
-Quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both. Barack Obama will provide $250
million in dedicated funds to create or expand regional training centers designed to help Head Start centers implement successful models.
-Provide affordable and high-quality child care that will promote child development and ease the burden on working families. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program provides critical support to low-income families to pay for child care. However, the Bush administration has funded this program at a constant level, while costs per child have increased...Barack Obama will
reverse this policy and ensure that CCDBG remains adequately funded every year.
-Create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase collaboration and program coordination across federal, state, and local levels. (I’d be amazed if something like this doesn’t already exist. -CC)
-Encourage All States to Adopt Voluntary, Universal Pre-School
-Teacher scholarships
-A national teacher assessment that is much more holistic than the current exams that are used for licensure. (I’m not sure about this goal, even if it were possible.)
- Barack Obama will provide $100 million to stimulate teacher education reforms built on school-university partnerships. (Sort of a teaching-hospitals model.)
- Obama will provide $1 billion in funding for grants to create mentoring programs and reward veteran teaches for becoming mentors.
-A bunch of stuff about science education, how important it is and how the above-mentioned plans will be good for it.
-Obama believes that the secret to lowering the dropout rate is to improve Jr. High.
To wit,
-Requiring states to develop a detailed plan to improve middle school student achievement.
-Developing and utilizing early identification data systems to identify those students most atrisk of dropping out.
-Investing in proven strategies such as: (1) providing professional development and coaching to school leaders, teachers and other school personnel in addressing the needs of diverse learners and in using challenging and relevant research-based best practices and curriculum; and (2) developing and implementing comprehensive, school-wide improvement efforts and implementing student supports such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction and extended learning time that enables all students to stay on the path to graduation.
-Double the amount of money used for research into what actually works and actually helps students learn.

On No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

Clinton on Education

How easy is it to find on the website: It’s not intuitive. It's mixed in with daycare, senior care and a bunch of other "family" type issues.


-Hillary Clinton is proposing a national Pre-K initiative that would provide funding to states to establish high-quality pre-K programs. States would have to devise a plan for making voluntary pre-K services universally available for all four year olds in the state in order to participate. In addition, they would provide pre-K at no cost to children from low-income children and/or limited English homes. As states increase participation and growth their programs, the federal government will be their partner, scaling up its investment in concert with states. Hillary Clinton is committed to achieving big goals while maintaining a commitment to fiscal discipline. She will invest in providing pre-k for all children without increasing the deficit by ending the abuse of no-bid contracts and cutting the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next ten years through an Executive Order, saving $10 to $18 billion a year

-Early College High Schools - As President, Hillary will support early college high schools, which are small schools designed to give students - especially those who are under-represented in higher education today - the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and an associate's degree or up to two years of credit toward a bachelor's degree. Early college high school creates a smooth transition from high school to college by integrating students' high school and college experiences. When students complete early college high school, they not only have a diploma but also have enough college credits - or even an associate's degree – to go to a two- or four-year college or university, making higher education more accessible and affordable.

There’s also a bunch of stuff aimed at at-risk youth that isn’t exactly education.

No Child Left Behind: Doesn’t mention it in any obvious place.


Currently no position paper on education

Romney on Education:

How easy is it to find on the website: Not bad. Go to “on the issues” It’s at the bottom.

-Lots of support for vouchers
-Homeschooling tax credit.

On No Child Left Behind: Governor Romney Will Improve Upon And Enhance No Child Left Behind (NCLB). He believes that No Child Left Behind has played an important role in stressing the role of accountability and high standards in improving our schools. Governor Romney will improve NCLB by giving states that meet or exceed testing requirements additional flexibility in measuring student performance. He will also improve the law by focusing more attention on individual student progress, rather than the overall progress of schools.

Analysis: Obama absolutely has the most ideas, but Clinton's seem a litter better thought out in places and she seems to have considered how she would pay for things, which is always a plus. I like Obama's idea that preventing dropouts starts in Junior High. I'm not sure about the "teaching hospitals" model of teacher training. But it's interesting.

Advantage: Obama
Honorable mention: Clinton

* The rules: I’m looking for ideas, not ideals. “Recruit more math and science professionals to be teachers” is a nice goal, but unless there is a method for doing so, I’m not adding it to the list. If something seems like a newish idea, I might still include it. Don’t like the way I’m making this distinction? Start your own list.


Joel Monka said...

This is an arena where I would say the fewer ideas the candidate has, the better. This is simply not a Federal issue, and all Federal action is either pandering for votes or a power grab, taking power away from states and school boards. How, as a parent, do you have any input into your child's education if all decisions of importance are made by the Feds?

epilonious said...

Thanks CC for putting this all together.

I disagree Joel... I think that the federal government has much more of what it will take to make American education work better: Namely the ability to pull tons of capitol and set better standards.

If the Federal government starts going "hey, we need you to be able to get more of your kids into college, and here is scads of money and some programs based on successes we have seen in other places (Minnesota, Rich Private Schools)" especially in places like South Carolina and Mississippi, I imagine lots of the worse school districts would get better.

I point to that age-old federal success of Rural Electrification: if people had gone "oh, that's a state issue", I'm sure there would be tons of places that just didn't have power save a few generators.

LinguistFriend said...

I like the idea of college-transition high schools to overlap with the first two years of American college. Did they mention that's the system that has existed in Central Europe and France for roughly a hundred and twenty years? The Gymnasium and lycee have classically worked that way, although I am not current on recent changes. They also have often employed doctoral-level faculty who actually know their subjects, with the result that some individual gymnasia were responsible for producing an amazing number of distinguished
mathematicians and physicists, for instance.

Anonymous said...

“First, Kill All the School Boards” by Matt Miller in the current Atlantic (February, 2008) supports epilonious’ position.

Miller asserts that local school boards are an artifact of our Colonial past and an obstacle to solving the systemic problems of our educational system. He proposes that schools need one set of national expectations that frees educators and parents to collaborate and gets everything else out of the way.

He argues that too many school boards are really committees that routinely spend their time on minor matters, like mid-level personnel decisions and bus routes.

They’re outmatched by teachers unions, which are adept at negotiating new advantages for their members, spreading their negotiating strategies to other districts in the state, and getting these advantages (for teachers, not educational excellence) written into state and federal law.

The article asks, “What Would Horace Do?” and points out that Horace Mann (Unitarian) formulated his 19th century educational reforms by observing more successful educational systems abroad. Today, those systems are the ones that are nationalized.

That may be anathema for the USA, Miller writes, but at one time so was a national role in retirement funding (Social Security) and healthcare for the elderly (Medicare).

Anonymous said...

Hillary's statement on NCLB is:

Reforming the No Child Left Behind Act. This law represented a promise -- more resources for schools in exchange for more accountability -- and that promise has not been kept.

Obama's statement on paying for his k-12 plan:

Barack Obama’s early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year. He will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government. The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years, using purchase cards and the negotiating power of the government to reduce costs of standardized procurement, auctioning surplus federal property, and reducing the erroneous payments identified by the Government Accountability Office, and closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole. The rest of the plan will be funded using a small portion of the savings associated with fighting the war in Iraq.

Personally, I don't think either statement on "fiscal responsibility" says all that much about what they actually will have the power to do -- and I think Hillary's reference to using an Executive Order shows us much more about her expectations of the power of the Oval Office than it does about her claims of knowing how to work with Congress or the value she places on education.

Hence what I wrote here about the actual job of being President and what we're really hiring this person to do. It has a lot more to do with the respect they can command and the integrity they draw from (which is much different than "likeability") than bullet points of legislation that will probably never be proposed in a recognizable form.

Claire said...

i wonder if Obama's thoughts on preventing dropouts starting in middle school has anything to do with him being a fan of "the wire"?

Comrade Kevin said...

Thanks for compiling this as well. :-)

I would appreciate all candidates taking the time in stump speeches to devote more time to how they'd implement their reforms. I know why they don't, though. Doing so would certainly not be media-friendly and in-depth details like these cannot be encapsulated in soundbyte form.

Although, in a world increasingly full of a barrage of information from almost every conceivable angle and on almost any conceivable subject, there's a constant fight for our attention. I predict this will be more evident over time.

Mark Kille said...

Interesting site:

They took statements from debates as their data set, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Jess -- Read this article from Group News Blog:
Sunday, January 6, 2008

Declaration - Request - Promise::Lead - Lobby - Legislate

It will explain what you are feeling about Obama and why he is so compelling.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess that didn't work. I don't know how to make a URL that fits here. Got to Group News Blog for Jan 6 and you'll see it. I hope.