Guest Blogger

A post from guest blogger and Fordham writer and researcher??Emmy Partin.??

This morning in Fordham's hometown of Dayton, Senator Barack Obama promoted his education plan during a speech at a local high school.?? Education is a hotter topic in the Buckeye State than most places with Governor Ted Strickland already having wrestled control of higher education and now aiming to take over the K-12 system, too.?? Obama echoed many of the sentiments expressed by Strickland, calling for more after-school programs, longer school days and years, and teaching students to be innovative and creative.?? But this wasn't your father's union-friendly, Democratic education-stump-speech, with Obama taking moderate positions on issues like teacher tenure and charter schools, in stark contrast to the governor's positions.

Obama is calling for more accountability for all charter schools and increased funding for the good ones; Strickland sought to set-back big time the state's charter sector in his inaugural budget proposal in 2007. Senator Obama wants to increase teacher accountability for student achievement, but the details for this are yet to come.?? Teachers would be paid more under Obama's agenda and struggling teachers would get help, but...

Today's much ballyhooed Obama education speech (delivered near my hometown of Dayton) and accompanying "fact sheet" contained more than a few good ideas about where U.S. education should go in the years ahead. But as an exercise in specifying what would actually happen??to U.S. education under an Obama administration, and what is and isn't feasible for the federal government itself to make happen, it recalled Bill Clinton's second term, awash in little, crowd-pleasing programs and program ideas, nearly all of them on the periphery of the public-education behemoth and on the periphery of real federal education policy.

Under four crowd-pleasing headings in the Obama fact sheet??("scaling choice and innovation in the public school system", "investment in innovation and technology", "ensuring effective teachers and school leaders", and "responsibility for parents and Washington"), I counted??a dozen separate programs, commitments and initiatives. None of them addressed the really tough issues surrounding No Child Left Behind (who sets standards, what constitutes adequate progress, what exactly to do about failing schools, etc); or about the big Title I program that is its centerpiece; or about special ed, HeadStart, or anything else that comprises the semi-dysfunctional corpus of existing federal programs and policies. Rather, another...

Liam Julian

Earlier, Barack Obama was talking about schools??in Dayton, Ohio. (He??did so in??Dayton because it's Fordham's hometown, no doubt.) AP and Campaign K-12 cover his speech.

Liam Julian

Checker goes in search of those elusive words, No Child Left Behind, and returns empty-handed.

In today's speech??(see here, too), Barack Obama said:

For decades, [Washington's] been stuck in the same tired debates over education that have crippled our progress and left schools and parents to fend for themselves. It's been Democrat versus Republican, vouchers versus the status quo, more money versus more reform.?? There's partisanship and there's bickering, but there's no understanding that both sides have good ideas that we'll need to implement if we hope to make the changes our children need.?? And we've fallen further and further behind as a result. ?? ??

If we're going to make a real and lasting difference for our future, we have to be willing to move beyond the old arguments of left and right and take meaningful, practical steps to build an education system worthy of our children and our future.??

Those lines might have made sense a decade ago, but is he forgetting No Child Left Behind? There's plenty to criticize about the law, but there's little doubt that it was a bipartisan effort that moved "beyond the old arguments of left and right." Where are the props for George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy?...

The Obama campaign has released a new advertisement??that hits John McCain on education:

"When they grow up, will the economy be strong enough?" asks the announcer in the 30-second spot, titled ???What Kind.'

"Barack Obama understands what it takes to make America No. 1 in education again. John McCain doesn't understand.

"John McCain voted to cut education funding. Against accountability standards. He even proposed abolishing the Department of Education. And John McCain's economic plan gives two hundred billion more to special interests while taking money away from public schools.

"We can't afford more of the same," the announcer continues, as the screen fades to the traditional closing image of McCain and President Bush together.

The funding line is pretty typical election-year stuff. Democrats want lots more money for the schools; Republicans don't. (Though the GOP certainly went on a spending spree in the early years of the Bush Administration.) As for voting to abolish the Department of Education, well, that's true enough, if ancient history now. (It's kinda like saying that many Democrats voted against welfare reform. They did, but they've mostly moved past it.)

But saying that McCain voted "against accountability standards": I've not a...

My doubts were unfounded. Kathy Cox, the state superintendent of Georgia, is officially smarter than a fifth grader and is $1 million richer to prove it. The money will go to three special needs schools in her home state.

Did you routinely win the estimate-the-weight-of-a-pumpkin contests at the state fair? Always know how to sneak on an already too crowded train? You may be stupendous at math! Or so a new study from Johns Hopkins, which as found a link between number sense--the ability for humans to estimate numbers--and math ability, concludes. Don't run out and spend all your money on those jelly bean jar raffle tickets to practice, though, since researchers have not yet figured out if number sense can be learned.

Joanne Jacobs??takes aim at the disparities between charter and traditional public school performance standards. She writes,

Ohio is closing two chronically low-performing charter schools. That's good. But the perform-or-else rule applies only to charters. Fourteen district-run schools would be closed if the same standards were applied. All will remain in business.