Wednesday, October 31, 2007
WILLIAMS: We're going to introduce the concept of a lightning round here. Take one question; go down the line. 30 seconds each -- a time we're going to enforce. … This is about something called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. It's called TIMSS. A number of overseas nations took part in it. It found that overseas students spend an average of 193 days annually in school. The deficit compared to the U.S., where it's 180 days -- over 12 years, that adds up to one-year gap between education in the U.S. and overseas. … Do you believe we in this country need to extend the school day and/or extend the school year? And will you commit to it?
CLINTON: Well, very quickly, I would start at the very beginning. We need to do more to help our families prepare their children. A family is a child's first school. The parents are a child's first teacher. This is something that I've worked on for many years.
We need to really support it through nurse visitation or social worker, child care. We need to do more with the pre-Kindergarten program that I have proposed.
In addition, though, this has to fit into an overall innovation agenda which I have also set forth because we can't just say go to school longer. We need to do what happened when I was in school and Sputnik went up and our teacher said, your president wants you study math and science. That's what I want kids today to feel, that it's part of making sure we maintain our quality of life and our standard of living.
~ Cathy Grimes
Meanwhile, The American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education is hailing Obama for his effort to spare the Teacher Quality Enhancement grant program from elimination in the budget. The group's president and CEO, Dr. Sharon P. Robinson, had this to say about Obama:
"Senator Obama is a true champion for education and is committed to ensuring that our nation has a supply of high-quality teachers."
This post also appears on my education blog: Get on the Bus.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Not only that, Obama said on a conference call that he would be rolling out a full education plan within a month:
“We’re going to be doing a roll-out of my education plan in much more specificity in the next two or three weeks. And we abide by my basic principle, which is we don’t propose any programs that we can’t pay for, so it will be structured in the context of other savings we have achieved elsewhere,” he said.
What will be in the plan? Well maybe the South Carolina proposal has some clues. In it he says federal dollars should be focused on rural areas to help with school construction. Look for a major early childhood education component, too:
“The federal government has to target where its dollars are going to make a difference,” he said. “Early education is an area where we think we can get a huge bang for the buck. The same is true when it comes to teacher pay tied to innovation in the schools.”
The Greenwood, S.C., Index Journal said Obama touted "partnerships between communities and state and federal governments" as "the only ways to adequately fund education."
The post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The article starts out by introducing readers to Romney the detail guy—a candidate who routinely checks his own web site and lets his campaign staff know when it needs more information. (Has he checked the education part of his web site lately?)
As the story explores the evolution of Romney the Candidate, it does touch a bit on education. Lizza points out how Romney's experience in management consulting influenced his education reform strategies. For example, as Massachusetts governor, he hired his former firm Bain & Co. in 2003 to evaluate the state's education system, which, Lizza writes:
"...formed the basis of a radical overhaul that would have increased fees and dismantled the system in place at the University of Massachusetts. In the corporate world, the Bainies, whose power emanated from the C.E.O.’s office, could implement their plans by diktat. On Beacon Hill, Romney had to deal with a Democratic legislature. The Bain education plan never passed."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"In his first major policy proposal, Thompson challenged presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney by criticizing "sanctuary cities" where city workers are barred from reporting suspected illegal immigrants who enroll their children in school or seek hospital treatment," the story said.
"Taxpayer money should not be provided to illegal immigrants," Thompson said at a round-table discussion that included Collier County, Fla., sheriff Don Hunter."The 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe said that undocumented children have the right to a free K-12 education in this country. Most states and school districts have a policy against their staffs asking students or their parents about their immigration status, including Thompson's home state of Tennessee.
--Dakarai I. Aarons
If nothing else, Colbert's decision to run is a welcome break from the same old stump speeches candidates continue to deliver all over the country.
Monday, October 22, 2007
But aside from a few anecdotes like that, Mr. Thompson has been largely mum about his positions on higher education since he jumped into the presidential race in September. In the third in The Chronicle's series of profiles of the leading candidates, we sift through Mr. Thompson’s past, including his Senate career, to determine what a Thompson presidency might mean for colleges and universities.On another front at our Campaign U. blog last week, we wrote about Hillary Rodham Clinton's flip flop on the federal guaranteed-loan program. First, she said she supported competition between the federal government’s direct-lending program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program, also known as FFELP.
But when Senator Clinton later unveiled her higher-education platform, she called for killing FFELP. Her plan would use the savings generated by abolishing the program to help finance an $8-billion expansion of aid to student and colleges.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
(Obama works the crowd in LA Saturday)
Maybe Latino women voters, who make up a huge chunk of California's Deomcratic constituency, didn't pay enough notice last week when Barack Obama said student aid should be available to the children of illegal immigrants.
So Saturday he made his point again a bit more vividly.
Obama visited LA's Garfield High School -- the setting for the famous movie "Stand And Deliver" in which insprining teacher Jamie Escalante pushes Latino kids to test success in math -- and delivered an even more pointed critique of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's college aid veto.
"Instead of driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows, we need to give those who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed," the LA Times reported he said in his speech.
This post also appears on my education blog Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: LA Times)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
According to the AP account, Romney said he liked the idea of linking the amount of financial aid with the "contributions" students will make to society. However, he provided no details on which career paths would be linked to greater financial aid and whose contributions would count more than others.
In fact, Romney, like many other candidates, has been pretty short on details in general about his education plans. The "Issue Watch" on education on his campaign web page, which provides some quotes and video, provides virtually no information on how he would reform schools.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My main complaint with his NCLB position is his stand on testing, which I think betrays a lack of understanding of what good teachers do. He is not alone in this. I have yet to find a presidential candidate who understands, or is willing to discuss, this point, so I can't see this as a major Edwards flaw. None of us is perfect.
Here is what his Web site says about his view on tests under NCLB: "Rather than requiring students to take cheap standardized tests, Edwards believes that we must invest in the development of higher-quality assessments that measure higher-order thinking skills, including open-ended essays, oral examinations, and projects and experiments."
Sounds great, doesn't it? So why have so many states shied away from such tests? Why has the state of Maryland just decided to end its use of written answers to questions---the brief constructed responses?
The answer is that such tests are very expensive, very slow to grade and don't give you any important information that you cannot get from multiple choice exams. In addition, attempts to write such exams for ALL children---as opposed to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams written for high schoolers who choose to take a challenging course--usually fail, because the test makers find they have to dumb down the process or graders will go made, and they will be reporting May's scores the following February. Such tests also cost millions of extra dollars that would be better spent raising teacher salaries.
That is what happened with Maryland's BCRs---they came out slow and stupid and expensive and led to bad teaching. Maryland was smart to get rid of them.
It may sound odd, but it is much better to make do with short, cheap standardized tests. They give you enough to know how a student, and a school, are doing in general, and can provide some quick clues to a kid's weaknesses. All that fine teaching on critical thinking will come if the student has a good teacher, and the cheap tests can show which teachers are good at raising achievement levels and which are not. Those are also the teachers who are most likely to be teaching those thinking skills that Edwards rightly praises. But until we get to high school and can give students tests of the quality of AP and IB, those good teachers do not need a standardized critical thinking test to help them. They prefer a cheap, quick multiple-choice test, something they can get out of the way, so they can continue their imaginative classroom work.
The cheap tests will help identify teachers who are not so good, and need help, and also identify those teachers whose students do well on the cheap tests and thus are most likely to be learning the thinking skills we all want our children to have. That certainly has been my experience, watching hundreds of teachers in action over the last 25 years. But if anyone can point me to a teacher who managed to raise scores significantly on those cheap tests without cheating, and yet did NOT teach those deeper skills, I would like to hear about it, so I can talk to the teacher and do a story. In my experience, teachers who raise achievement on cheap tests are very good teachers. They are just getting started. Their success on those tests is as closely tied to their success in teaching critical thinking as long spring walks are entwined with young love. Edwards should stop asking for tests that won't work, and emphasize his many other ideas that have merit.
Monday, October 15, 2007
What impresses me most about the proposals he made in Des Moines last month is his take on the merit pay issue. The fact that he addresses it at all wins points with me. Some candidates think (wrongly) that the teachers unions just won't stand for merit pay, and so shy away. Edwards goes one very big step further by recognizing that the sort of individual rewards that some candidates support are unlikely to work in a well run school. In a poorly run school, it may make sense to reward your best teachers with some extra money to persuade them to stick around until somebody can find a good principal to match their good efforts with good support. But if a school is really going to soar, and raise the achievement level of nearly every child, it needs a team spirit, and Edwards' proposal recognizes that.
He wants to raise pay for teachers in succcessful (note that very important word) high-poverty schools by up to $15,000 a year. The first $5,000 would be for veteran teachers who mentored new teachers. This is fine, although his press release does not make it clear that this money would only go to such mentors in schools that have shown success. The second $5,000 would go to teachers who earned their National Board certification. This is also okay, since all teachers have a shot at the year-long certification process, but again the press release does not specify if the school would have to reach a certain level for them to get the money.
The impressive part of this merit pay plan comes with the third $5,000, which would go to every single teacher in "high poverty schools with high academic performance, good student behavior, and high parent satisfaction." There are a few schools like that in nearly every big city in America right now. Most of them are small charters. They don't get that much attention, but that extra money would help them recruit more good teachers and inspire more organizations to create such schools, or persuade public school systems to find smart, tough principals willing to create such schools as part of their districts.
It is a smart idea that should win support from many union members, since a team approach is what unionism is all about. Republicans so far are too stuck on the individualized approach--more money for every teacher whose students do well---to see that in the inner city, the every- teacher-for-herself approach doesn't work well. But the GOP folk are also openly admiring of the schools that have shown the power of the team, so I wait for them to get smart like Edwards and move in that same direction.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Speaking in New Hampshire, she harked to access, a theme she has turned to throughout her campaign. Her Web site contains details of the plan here.
The heart of the plan is an expansion of the Hope tax credit to $3,500, which includes a provision for what was dubbed "advanceability." In addition to increasing the credit from $1,650, she calls for making the first $1,000 in tuition costs fully deductible. The new credit will be partially refundable and will be "advanceable" so families can receive the tax credit when their tuition bills are due.
She took on Pell grants, too, saying she wants to adjust them annually so they keep pace with college costs. She wants colleges to establish multi-year tuition rates so families can better plan education costs, rather than waiting year to year to find out how much more they must shell out or borrow.
The plan includes $500 million in incentive grants to help community colleges make sure students complete degrees; the money also goes toward two-year/four-year institution partnerships to increase graduation rates and promote smooth transfers.
There is $250 million to help improve graduation rates from four-year colleges, too.
Worker training is addressed with $250 million for on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs.
Americorps also receives a boost in the Clinton proposal. She wants to double the education award associated with the two-year public service program, increasing it to $10,000.
For those tired of filling out FAFSA forms, whether online or in print, Clinton proposes a simpler way to apply for federal assistance: checking a box on the income tax return.
The accountability portion, which targets the institutions themselves, includes three components:
An online college cost calculator so people can figure out the amount of aid a student likely will receive, and how much he or she must pay with other funds, for the institution the student wants to attend.
A graduation and graduate-employment rate index, maintained by the Department of Education, for all colleges and universities. The employment index would include information on earnings, as well.
Multi-year tuition projections so students will know from the freshman year on how much they must pay over the course of their education at that institution.
According to her Web site, the massive plan won't increase the deficit. Clinton calls for eliminating the guaranteed student loan program and using a portion of the proceeds expected from freezing the estate tax at $7 million per couple.
There is sure to be skeptical response to the plan, but it touches almost all the higher education student constituencies, with the exception of graduate students.
So we're looking at universal pre-Kindergarten and more affordable and accessible higher education. Now we'll see what she proposes for the students in the middle.
~ Cathy Grimes
On a visit to the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City this week, I learned that Mormons, who prize the notion of family, are big supporters of public schools and only operate their own private schools in areas of the world where public education is lacking. Tonga was one example a tour guide gave me. It's worth noting, however, that in Utah, high school students who are Mormons get an hour a day of "release time" for religious instruction. Mormons are also fierce supporters of "free agency", or studying issues and making their own choices.
The two beliefs—support for public schools and freedom of choice—certainly must influence Romney. And, these beliefs create tension in the current debate over school vouchers, which often pits the ideas of public school against parental choices. It's a very hot topic in Utah, which has a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to keep, or throw out, a universal voucher program. It's also an issue for Romney, who has said he supports vouchers programs.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Richardson said he would cut $57 billion in defense spending and put $60 billion into education instead.
Part of those funds would pay for universal preschool program for 4-year-olds, he said. Richardson has started to do that in New Mexico. He spearheaded a pilot program in 2005. That program has grown slightly over the last few years, though the $14 million he got this year still will only serve about 14 percent of the 26,000 4-year-old kids in the state.
Richardson's other proposal, setting an average starting salary for teachers at $40,000, is another attempt to take a state program to Washington. During his time as governor, the state implemented a three-tier licensure program that starts teachers at $30,000, but bumps them to a minimum $40,000 after three years and a pretty extensive evaluation process. Teachers with master's degrees and six years can earn $50,000.
Richardson said he would also hire 100,000 new math and science teachers.
He said once again that he wants to get rid of NCLB and again used his stance to distance himself from his opponents. "Some say fix it, others say tweak it. Senator Clinton says reform it," Richardson said. "I also have two words for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. Scrap it. End it."
For more about his speech read this story.
The Democratic presidential candidate said students could earn two years of college tuition for every year of serving in organizations like the Peace Corp or Teach for America. For more about the preliminaries, see this AP story.
No other details about the plan were released, though Richardson has already said that NCLB should be scrapped. So far, he hasn't mentioned an alternative. Stay tuned.
What's the biggest impediment to the country's long-term economic success? The K-12 education system, says GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani.
“I’d like to point out that I think the biggest economic problem we face long term is our education — our K-12 education,” Giuliani said near the close of Tuesday's Michigan debate on the economy. “If we can reform that and change it around choice, I think the sky’s the limit for the United States.” (Thanks to Education Daily for catching the quote.)
Giuliani's key reform for all that ails education is school choice. Expanding options for parents is one of his campaign's "12 commitments." As he said recently in a California campaign stop, "We’re going to take the decision-making and we’re going to put it in the hands of the people who really know the children, really love the children, really care about the children, more than anyone else: the parents."
To hear Giuliani's June comments about how he wants to "save" American public education with choice, click here.
(Photo credit: St. Petersburg Times)
Education Week's David Hoff includes a presidential scorecard among his latest blogs on the No Child Left Behind law, currently up for Congressional reauthorization.
He notes that both Thompson, a Republican, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, have called for the elimination of NCLB, but for different reasons.
Hoff says: "Richardson is looking for the support of teachers' unions and other liberals who see the law as unworkable. Thompson is trying to reach the conservatives who see NCLB as an unnecessary intrusion on local decisions.
At the beginning of the year, Washington conventional wisdom said presidential politics would eventually interfere with NCLB reauthorization. As of now, it looks as the presidential field is reflecting the political alignment in Congress. We'll have to wait and see what happens once the field starts to narrow."
If you spot Thompson tidbits, shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
On Tuesday, Barack Obama called on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not to veto a bill that would make illegal immigrants who graduate high school eligible for college aid.
Schwarzenegger has vetoed a similar measure once before. Obama co-sponsored a a bill to allow illegals to get college aid when he was in the Illinois legislature.
Also check out this story from a Georgia-based writer which makes a passing reference to Obama's education positions but compares the Democratic senator to Ronald Reagan.
This post also appears on my education blog Get on the Bus.
(Image credit: AP)
Education was not one of the main topics of the interview, but may well be a key element of Clinton campaign stories Thursday. Stay tuned.
FYI, if you haven't read the Chronicle of Higher Ed Clinton profile, it is worth a look. The story gives good perspective and education threads through the whole.
~ Cathy Grimes
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Hillary Clinton signals her support for school accountability by talking about her key role in bringing Arkansas schools out of the dark ages in the 1980s. Does she overstate her case?
Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times' new web site aimed at keeping the candidates honest, is starting to tackle education issues. The first forays focused on Edwards and Clinton. Take a peek at whether they tell the truth while on the stump.
In the second of our series of profiles of the leading presidential candidates, The Chronicle explores Ms. Clinton’s transformation from Goldwater Girl to antiwar Democrat and traces her emergence as a skilled negotiator. We also examine her Senate record, focusing on her twin passions of expanding college access to nontraditional students and of making student loans more borrower-friendly.Our Campaign U. blog also contains the transcript of a Chronicle Q&A with Ms. Clinton about how her college experiences shaped her as a candidate and about her views on student-aid and other higher-education policies.
Another story that appears in our issue this week also takes a look at the changing role of presidential advisers and what scholars stand to gain and lose when they agree to help a candidate.
Writes King: "If the next president is a Democrat, it's likelier the accountability-centered framework of No Child will remain but with perhaps less testing and more money for smaller classes and teacher retraining, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington think tank."
The Republicans are less predictable. "That's because the party is divided between the conservative base that makes up the majority of primary voters and wants state and local control of schools, and business interests that provide most of the campaign funding and believe No Child should not only be renewed but strengthened. "
King then walks us through what the Republicans have said to date.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
We're still waiting on the NEA.
This post also appears on my education blog, Get on the Bus.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Lately, though, his legacy has been somewhat tarnished because of his support of the Iraq war and his possible involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Add to that failing health, and Domenici's day's were numbered. For anybody who's interested in Domenici, see this New Mexico blogger.
What does this have to do with education or the presidential election?
In the wake of the announcement, several names have been bantered about to replace Domenici. High on that list is Gov. Bill Richardson. Richardson's folks have already said he's running for president and isn't interested in the Senate seat. But with Domenici gone and Richardson's approval rating in New Mexico hovering upward of 70 percent, some think he'd be a shoe-in.
Meanwhile, Richardson continues to get attention for being the only Democratic candidate to call for the removal of all troops from Iraq, and now he is criticizing other Dems for not doing so.
Richardson started off strong when it came to education. Unfortunately, he's been somewhat mum on the subject lately. For anyone who's interested in a Richardson education refresher, you can see his main points here.
Clinton participated in Q&A sessions sessions with AFT leaders and members. She has spoken out in support of universal pre-Kindergarten education, better pay and support for teachers and recognition of student achievement beyond test scores. She also advocates amending No Child Left Behind. Officials cite her past experience with education reform and her bold plans for improving education.
The endorsement is the latest in a string of union nods for Clinton. AFT boasts 1.4 million members. In addition to the AFT endorsement, Clinton also was endorsed by the New York State United Teachers, the state's AFT affiliate.
Rudolph W. Giuliani already has moved in to attack the idea. As he made the rounds of the diners of New Hampshire yesterday, the former mayor criticized Ms. Clinton for borrowing from George McGovern's failed playbook when she offered up the college-savings proposal, according to The New York Times's political blog.
A college degree also makes a big difference in whether a citizen is likely to go to the polls.
Other items from The Chronicle blog that may be of interest include a discussion of Democratic candidates' stances on how to respond to the recent controversy that has mired the student-loan industry. Ms. Clinton, for instance, has not called for ending the Federal Family Education Loan program, even though her husband is credited with creating direct lending.
Late last week, Barack Obama also outlined a plan that he said would narrow disparities in the nation's criminal-justice system. Among the proposals he put forward in a speech at Howard University, Mr. Obama advocated recruiting more public defenders by forgiving the student loans of people who go into the profession.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
On the campaign trail Clinton talks about building a $10 billion universal preschool program for four-year-olds. Her legislation, however, includes no dollar figure -- only that it would target families below 200 percent of poverty and therefore not eligible for Head Start.
(Hmmm, you're thinking ... sounds like Women with Needs. Exactly, which makes this a glimpse into a formula that's proving successful for her.)
Any federal preschool program is most likely to help those in-between families (too well-off for Head Start, too poor for a quality private preschool -- a group of voters both sides can win over) which is why it's reasonable to assume this is an issue with political legs. To date, we've only heard preschool talk from the Democrats, but it may not be long before this bubbles up from the other side...