Education

The Candidates on Education

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Where do Barack Obama and John McCain stand on education?

Surprisingly, they're both in favor of it. Alas, both effectively see a larger role for the federal government, which has historically had a smaller-than-the-states role in K-12 schooling than states and municipalities and has really sucked at doing anything other than spending bad money after worst money in this area. The general crapitude of No Child Left Behind isn't an accident.

One of McCain's big applause lines at the Republican National Convention was his declaration in favor of school choice. Alas, according to the AP, he meant only that the Washington, D.C. school voucher program should be expanded:

The Arizona senator did propose a federal voucher program when he ran for president in 2000, but his advisers say President Bush's No Child Left Behind Law, enacted in 2002, is aimed at giving parents more choice. McCain would make improvements to that; for example, he would expand children's access to tutoring services…. "I think it [No Child] needs to be built on, revised and fixed."

Read: Forget about changing anything. To his (slight) credit, McCain wants federal spending on K-12 education to stay about the same as it is currently (how he'll hold that line is questionable).

For his part, Obama too wants to "fix the broken promises of No Child Left Behind," partly through more federal spending on charter schools:

Obama doesn't think vouchers are the answer; many Democrats agree. On Tuesday, the Illinois senator gave his answer to the school-choice dilemma: Create an array of new public schools, and double the federal money for charter schools to more than $400 million.

"Charter schools that are successful will get the support they need to grow," Obama said in Riverside, Ohio. "And charters that aren't will get shut down. I want experimentation, but I also want accountability."

That's good, and so is the senator's embrace of performance pay for teachers (though those plans never seem to make it all the way through the legislative process). Obama plans to pay for new spending increases he wants by ending "corporate tax deductions for CEO pay, cut[ting] congressional and federal agency spending and delay[ing] NASA's moon and Mars missions."

Lots of luck to the kids entering K-12 schools. Prediction for school kids: Very little will change due to policy set at the federal level during your time spent there. Prediction for taxpayers: You will be paying more in federal taxes for education during the next four years, regardless of who is elected.

More here.

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  1. That’s good, and so is the senator’s embrace of performance pay for teachers (though those plans never seem to make it all the way through the legislative process). Obama plans to pay for new spending increases he wants by ending “corporate tax deductions for CEO pay, cut[ting] congressional and federal agency spending and delay[ing] NASA’s moon and Mars missions.”

    Aren’t the moon missions already delayed enough? It took eight years to get there the first time, and it’ll take 20 the second time.

    It’d be nice if a person who wants to emphasize science education would have something to do when they’re educated.

  2. Aren’t the moon missions already delayed enough?

    No. Government funded moon missions should be delayed forever. We should delay starting the planning and design components only half that long.

  3. Government funded moon missions should be delayed forever.

    Damn, you took the words right out of my mouth.

  4. Lots of luck to the kids entering K-12 schools. Prediction for school kids: Very little will change due to policy set at the federal level during your time spent there.

    Kids need to take their own damn initiative. It doesn’t matter if every teacher you have ever had was a mush brain commie only interested in teaching you how to recycle the ‘up with Che’ signs assigned in shop class, if you have the curiosity, you will have an education.

  5. Someone earlier in the week mentioned that when the public hears, ‘eliminate the Department of Education, they hear eliminate education.’ This calls for a two part strategy. 1) rename the Department of Education to the Department of Public Instruction, 2) come back to the issue in a few years and eliminate the Department of Public Instruction.

  6. Someone earlier in the week mentioned that when the public hears, ‘eliminate the Department of Education, they hear eliminate education.’ This calls for a two part strategy.

    I like my two part strategy better: 1) Ask people if they actually know what the Dept. of Education does, and 2) Go spit in Carter’s face for signing it into law.

  7. Here’s an idea sort of like medical marijuana, namely a transition to complete legalization; another that won’t work. Whatever. Here it is. How about giving every government school teacher enough authority to ask for a show of hands: “Who would rather not be here? Okay, then get the fuck out.”
    Those interested in education will be with me.
    Those interested in public schools as baby sitters/”agents for socialization” will object.

    My proposal would, at least, enable some focus on the true “purpose” of government schools.

  8. “Who would rather not be here? Okay, then get the fuck out.”

    Hmm, seems like kind of a harsh question to ask kindergartners.

    When you present your idea at the next education reform conference, you may want to make it clear you’re talking about a little bit older kids. You are talking about older kids, aren’t you?

  9. Performance pay for teachers never materializes for a simple reason:

    It’s pretty impossible to do without saints running the program, and even then it’s expensive.

    Measuring a teacher’s performance isn’t as simple as comparing their kid’s performance versus a benchmark — bluntly, the raw material varies from year to year, the tests vary from year to year.

    Worse yet, most schools track students into peer groups based on ability, meaning that some teachers will end up with kids so smart that they can be the shittiest teacher in the US and still turn out the “best performing” students.

    You can do cohort tracking — track improvement for groups, year to year, and futz with the numbers to try to handle differing ability levels (who’s a ‘better performing teacher’ — the one that gets the smart and well-behaved kids great scores, or the one who manages to get the sullen, learning disabled, problematic kids to pass?) but that’s very expensive and requires a great deal of data massaging, introducing subjectivity into the process.

  10. sage – then ask why the faux libertarian god reagan didn’t abolish it!

    as long as creationism is taught, the gop’ers will be happy. (giggle)

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