Issues

VP Debate: Education gets mentioned!

In last night's Vice Presidential Debate, education and teaching got a mention, briefly.

We report, you decide:

1:10 - Gov. Palin:

I know that education you are passionate about. And with your wife being a teacher for 30 years -- and God bless her; her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that, and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a -- a house full of schoolteachers. My grandma was. My dad, who's in the audience today, he's a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best school teacher in the year -- and here's a shout out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School. You get extra credit for watching this debate. (Laughter.)Education in America has been, in some sense, in some of our states, just accepted to be a little bit lax. And we have got to increase the standards. No Child Left Behind was implemented, is not doing the job, though. We need flexibility in No Child Left Behind.We need to put more of an emphasis on the profession of teaching. We need to make sure that education in either one of our agendas I think absolute top of the line. My kids, as public school participants right now, it's near and dear to my heart. I'm very, very concerned about where we're going in education, and we have got to ramp it up and put more attention in that arena.

1:14 - Sen. Biden

I hope we'll get back to education, because I don't know any government program that John is supporting -- not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind was the money was left behind. We didn't fund it.

Take a look for yourself at C-Span's Debate Hub.  Video after the jump.

For now, you can keep your snide comments...

...about Big Oil to yourself, because ExxonMobil does have a vested interest in making more American mathematicians and scientists.  Nice ad.

From the good folks at ED in 08.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ReLtjvALN4]

Ed Policy Smackdown!

Education Policy in the Next Administration (New America Foundation): 7.24.08, 10:30AM Eastern

Whoa!  The New America Foundation is hosting a live webcast of Sens.

RE: Education in the campaign

Some more analysis out today on Sen.

Schools get some election attention!

John McCain addressed the NAACP today, and focused his comments on public education.  He mentioned Barack Obama's earlier dismissal of school vouchers:

"All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?" the Arizona senator asked.

One Nation Left Behind

Ed in 08 has a new ad.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdO4mI68JzA]

Teacher Quality - Success in NYC

I missed this article last month from the Center for American Progress, where they look at the success that New York City has had in increasing the qualifications of teachers at their lowest performing schools.  The metric they used was the difference between the SAT scores of teachers at the best schools and the worst schools, along with the difference in the percentage of uncertified teachers at those schools.  Since 2000, they've sharply narrowed those gaps.  Remarkably, they've done that without just transferring stronger teachers from the low-poverty schools.

Policy Matters: Solving the Teacher Quality Dilemma (Center for American Progress)

Hiring Better Teachers

Slate has an article today about a school in NYC that raised its performance by setting a high bar for teachers, pushing out those that flunked.  Some definite pros and cons there.  Key quote:

While it's not fair to park the problem of global inequities at the doorstep of teachers unions, the continued floundering of public education in America is at least partly to blame: Education is an awfully good predictor of future earnings, and keeping bad teachers in classrooms filled with kids from poor families certainly helps to reinforce the cycle of poverty.

Of course, the

A New Education War?

Now for a bit of policy.

We've discussed teacher performance pay and union issues before on TeachBreakthroughs, and the discussion has recently returned to the campaign trail in earnest.  Last weekend, Barack Obama accepted the endorsement from the National Education Association, a 3.2 million member teacher's union.  He made performance pay a subject of his speech, just as he did at the NEA meeting last year, drawing boos.  In the primaries, the NEA decided not to endorse a candidate, while the American Federation of Teachers (a more Labor-Movement-Connected union) was among the most active surrogate groups for Hillary Clinton.  While Obama's work toward performance pay won't drive the unions to another candidate, there are some questions there.

Richard D. Kahlenberg wrote for The American Prospect a useful rundown of the education reform debate happening right now on the left.  It's a great read, but here's the gist of the piece:

While progressives generally agree that education in America is a mess and that performance needs to increase, there are two schools of thought that have seen little chance for compromise:

  • A "civil rights" coalition that wants the schools themselves to change.  This means applying efforts to issues ranging from teacher recruitment and pay to leadership structures.  This group, characterized by big-city school reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, along with politicians like Newark Mayor (and Breakthrough special event keynote speaker) Corey Booker.  The fact that many signature school reform measures are opposed by the unions leaves this group with a negative relationship to them.  They generally think No Child Left Behind was generally a good idea, though poorly executed and not thoughtful enough.  "We've got to do something, and we actually have some control over the school system.  Let's fix that and see what else happens."
  • A bigger-issues (and union-connected) group that makes the the case that student performance is determined by all the things that happen to a kid before he sets foot in a school.    There is plenty of evidence to support this side of the argument, most influentially the Coleman study of 1966.  NCLB is, to this group, misguided.  "Why send teacher job security and tenure down the river, if the way to really improve performance is to end poverty in America?"

National Summer Learning Day Resolution

This Thursday, July 10th, is "National Summer Learning Day." This national event highlights the importance of summer learning programs. In addition to events happening all over the country on that day, there’s going to be a  resolution introduced into the House and Senate to officially designate July 10th “National Summer Learning Day.”