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One Last Chance…

by Jeanne Allen
October 19, 2012

Soon the presidential candidates will meet for the last time to debate and with the topic focused on foreign policy, one may be tempted to think education has no place in the discussion. But one would be wrong. There are at least two critical education questions that should be addressed.

QUESTION 1: A recent report from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Chancellor of New York city schools Joel Klein found that “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.” The task force behind the report argued that too many young people are not qualified for the military because they do not have an adequate level of education. Do you agree with them and how would you address the issue?

QUESTION 2: Condoleezza Rice recently told a gathering of education leaders at Education Nation last month that a child in Korea learns in 3rd grade what our kids learn in 5th grade. We know that U.S. students rank 25th out of 34 on math scores among Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, with nearly one-quarter of U.S. students unable solve the easiest level of questions. Does this lack of international competitiveness concern you and what would your Administration do to address it?

In the previous two debates, President Obama and Governor Romney have talked about education in many contexts: economic, achievement, school choice, and the role of the federal government among others. In this final debate, they have one last chance to inform voters about their vision for education in the country.

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For more on where Romney and Obama camps stand on critical education issues, head over to our Education and the Presidential Candidates page.

Fact check: On education, gains difficult to demonstrate

by Howard Blume
Los Angeles Times
October 3, 2012

On education, President Obama correctly noted that his ideas for reform have been drawn from ideas championed by Democrats and Republicans, an overlap that also has drawn criticism in some quarters from allies of the president such as teacher unions.

Obama also said that his education reforms were “starting to show gains.” Such gains would be difficult to demonstrate. There are rising test scores in many states, but it’s difficult to link these to federal programs. The president has indeed favored aggressive reforms in education, but most of them are still in process as far as results.

Education historian Diane Ravitch, watching the debate, said in an email that the school-reform grants under Obama’s “Race to the Top” program have “thus far improved nothing.” (Ravitch is a disappointed Obama supporter who is strongly against Romney.) The Obama administration also has successfully pushed nearly all states to adopt year-by-year learning standards called the “common core.” The goal has been to raise academic standards and promote improved curricula nationwide, but little related to this effort has taken effect yet.

Mitt Romney spoke of education as part of his economic plan. The specifics he mentioned included simplifying the structure of the federal Department of Education. He complained that 47 training programs are housed in eight different agencies. For better or worse, job-training programs are, in fact, housed in multiple federal agencies.

He also spoke of sending education dollars “back to states,” which analysts from both parties have interpreted as a signal that he would reduce the budget and scope of the Department of Education.

Obama, in contrast, has sent education dollars from the federal government to the states via grants and direct aid, under the economic stimulus program, to save programs and jobs. Such programs have increased the federal deficit.

Read More …

What the Candidates Debate Has to Offer Ed Reformers

October 3, 2012

Who knew education would come up repeatedly tonite?

Romney: After the president opened the debate about his jobs plan, Romney introduced the education component into the debate, combining jobs and skills, which come from education.

Obama: We have to improve our education system — we have a program called Race to the Top and now we are going to hire 100,000 math and science teachers.

Romney: I agree education is key to the future of our economy but we have 27 different training programs across government not working together. (we are fact checking this)

Obama: Says he inherited 18 programs for education that were well intentioned but not working for kids; that one teacher in NV has 42 kids and 10 year old textbooks. (we are fact checking this, too!)

This smattering of their words scratches the surface of an engaging, competitive conversation that highlighted education six times (at least) before the first 15 minutes were up and despite having been asked no direct questions about education. The candidates would go on to amplify their points throughout, and eventually address the proper federal role, which, despite suggestions among education reformers to the contrary, really is very, very different. And by all twitter, news media and pundit reports, even on this issue Romney was the winner.  READ MORE

 

For more information, review, and comparisons on Romney and Obama’s views on education, be sure to check out these resources:

Presidential Candidates Focus on Education

Opinion: Schooling Obama

Where Do Romney, Obama Stand on Education?

School Choice is Key Issue in Election

GOP Convention Highlights Ed Reform; Now It’s the Dems Turn

Paul Ryan: Education Pioneer

And don’t forget to check out CER’s Field Guide and Mandate for Change, which serve as guides for the kinds of reforms candidates should be embracing and talking

Read More …

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