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The VP Debate: Another Good Night For Ed Reform?

by Jeanne Allen
October 11, 2012

Last week’s Presidential debate was a pleasant surprise from the perspective of this veteran education reformer accustomed to sitting through years of debates, listening to candidates talk about important issues like the economy, jobs, and national security with a barely a mention of the building block for the solution to all of those problems – EDUCATION.

President Obama and Governor Romney proactively peppered comments on education throughout their discussions, giving the American people a pretty good idea of their different positions on the topic.   As we look forward to tonight’s Vice Presidential debate, I hope that Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan follow the lead and make education a major topic in the debate.  I want to hear more about the two tickets’ vision for education in this country.

What do they believe is the role of the federal government in education?  How will they address the skills gap and the still very present achievement gap in this country?  How should we pay, train, and retain teachers?  And of most importance to me: will the Obama/Biden ticket take the opportunity they missed last week to embrace school choice?

Once upon a time, Joe Biden voted to authorize a program of school choice for DC students. Under President Clinton, Biden was one of a few democrats who parted company with their party to authorize school choice, but the approval of the program was vetoed.

In an interesting twist of fate, Paul Ryan was the staffer for the committee overseeing DC operations chaired by then Senator Sam Brownback, and school choice and charter schools, not yet realized in the district or in most states was something the Senator explored. Many of us were called to testify and offer information and research from around the country.  The reform plan Congress first

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Paul Ryan: Education Pioneer

Editor’s note: In a recent story, The Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits cites a Whiteboard Advisors survey of supposed “education insiders” which suggests that the educational credentials of Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan are not up to snuff. But CER President Jeanne Allen relies on her years of experience to remind them that Ryan was actually somewhat of a pioneer on ed reform:

I’m not entirely sure what “insiders” Whiteboard surveys, as most of the insiders I know have never been surveyed. That said, even if they were surveyed, it would not matter since Congressman Ryan has not been on education or ed reform radars recently as he’s developed an economic platform to which most ed reformers today pay little attention. Newbies would not remember that Ryan staffed the committee that evaluated options for the District of Columbia before school choice and charters were even a glimmer in their eyes, and was instrumental in influencing his later colleagues in Congress to promote reform throughout numerous vehicles.


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