Friday, September 5, 2008

Fair and Blanced

Here is a summary of the GOP convention's statements on education

John McCain-
Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I’m President, they will.

Cindy McCain
(I see) Mothers with no choice but to send their children to unsafe and underperforming schools.

Tom Ridge

Sarah Palin

I signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better.

Rudy Guiliani
The party (GOP) that believes parents should choose where their children go to school.

Joe Lieberman

Fred Thompson

For the most part, the GOP wanted to stay away from anything substantive on education as possible, only coming in for standard boilerplate on choice to rouse the base, without offering any specifics on what that would be. Nothing from Sarah Palin, who will become education's new top enemy (I'm amused by her sneering at Obama's Harvard education, as though the hard work that Obama had to put in to be successful at one of the toughest academic institutions in the world is to be derided). I expect plenty of "teachers are whiners" comments out of her.

I actually was impressed McCain spent as much time as he did on education... it's more than he has spent than on the campaign trail all summer. Unfortunately, he continues to offer nothing new. His line about schools being accountable to parents and students when he is president is almost identical to Bush's, and McCain gives every indication he will follow in Bush's footsteps and be pre-occupied with foreign affairs to be troubled by educational matters.

I'm wondering if there is any chance of a federally elected Republican congressman who is an educator. The party line on education shows it is created by non-professionals looking at the issue from the outside (much like the position on health care without the thoughts of doctors and nurses). Here is McCain's official statement on education, which I'd challenge him to articulate without an aide or a prepared script to help him. He mentions... "the school is charged with the responsibility of educating the child, and must have the resources and management authority to deliver on that responsibility." He then doesn't give any new money to schools despite frequently calling them "failures". The only money he is apportioning is for online/distance learning... so rather than improve the neighborhood school, let's have the students opt out and sit in front of the computer to gain that world-class education. Actually, since America is so bad with education, perhaps we can have our distance education teachers be in Norway and China and other industrial companies that are beating us!

Who do we blame if students don't succeed then? Can we put the Chinese distance learning schools on the watchlist?

Until education dominates discussion as much as economy and foreign affairs, I refuse to believe that they are being sincere when they say we are in crisis. And that's too bad, because we are in a crisis. And this is a winning issue for the party who is ready to learn the specifics of it.

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