Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hot topic: presidential candidates on education

We can all probably agree that our current president has done little to improve public education in this country. If anything he has made things worse. On my tours of San Francisco schools, teachers and principals blasted Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation. Many believe the law, requiring schools to be more accountable by showing yearly progress, has spurred too much testing, narrowed curriculum, deprived children of chances to be creative, and the list goes on and on.

This year we have the opportunity to leave behind the troubled past when we vote in a new president. And on February 5, we have the opportunity to partake in the primary elections. The candidates have many ideas on how to improve education. Which presidential candidate do you think would do the most for our country's schools? Please share.

Not sure about your favorite candidate's eduation platform?
Here are a few places where you can do some research:

Education Election
The Education Writers Association's coverage of the presidential election and candidates' stands on education

USA Today
Candidate positions on education compiled by reporter Ledyard King

Ed in 08
A campaign launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to make education improvement a priority in the 2008 presidential campaign

Finally, please take time to vote in the poll on the right—and to vote on election day.




  1. The following is a letter from Dr. Sophia Yen in support of Hillary Clinton.

    Hillary Clinton is the CLEAR CHOICE for educational and children's issues.



    This is a long letter, but I ask you to please read it in its entirety. Making a critical decision like electing the next leader of our country deserves real thought and a true assessment of the candidates. Here is what I have to offer:

    It is time for competence, not charisma. We have had 7 years of "charisma" under George Bush. Now it's time for someone who has the experience, who has worked with world leaders and is respected internationally.

    “Making change is not about what you believe. It's not about a speech you make. It is about working hard....I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program. There are 2,700 National Guard and Reserve members (in NH) who have access to health care, because on a bipartisan basis, I pushed legislation through over the objection of the Pentagon, over the threat of a veto from President Bush.

    I want to make change, I've already made change. I will continue to make change. I'm not just running on a promise of change, I'm running on 35 years of change. I'm running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies.

    ...what we need is somebody who can deliver change....The best way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I've already made.”

    … Hillary Clinton


    I do believe in a meritocracy.

    Hillary is 60, Barack is 46. She has lived and experienced 33% more than Barack. She met MLK when Barack was 1. When Barack was 3 years old, Hillary helped organize a strike at her college to increase African-American faculty.

    She has worked for children every step of the way: Hillary has been working for children's rights since Barack was 12 years old. She worked on the seminal work, Beyond the Best Interests of the Child. Also in 1973, her first scholarly paper, "Children under the Law", was published in the Harvard Educational Review and is frequently cited in the field. She served as staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund. She co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She got healthcare for children. Along with Senator Ted Kennedy, she was the major force behind the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997 which covers indigent children nationwide. She worked on the FDA Pediatric rule which requires that the FDA test drugs in children rather than just assume that children's metabolism, etc is the same as adults.

    Hillary has worked for the underserved: As a law school professor, she took the moribund U of Arkansas legal aid clinic and got it to serve 300 clients and have students appear in 50 court cases in the 1st year under her direction. As the 1st woman chair of the board of Legal Services Corporation, she fought off Gov. Reagan's attempt to cut legal services for the poor in CA, and then when Reagan became president, she successfully fought off President Reagan's attempt to cut the Legal Services program nationally. By the time her chairperson's term expired in 1982, funding had grown from $90 million to $300 million. She had saved the concept of federal funding for legal aid to the poor.

    At the Rose Law Firm, she worked specializing in patent infringement and intellectual property law.

    She has worked on education: As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee from

    1982 to 1992 which resulted in mandatory teacher testing as well as state standards for curriculum and classroom size in place.

    She has worked on healthcare: In Arkansas, she was chair of the Rural Health Advisory Committee. We all know that she worked on the national healthcare system and she and Bill realized it was key issue before the rest of the country was ready for it.

    She has worked for women: She was a leading force in creating Fayetteville's first rape crisis center, after hearing from a student that was raped. 1987 -1991 she chaired the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, which addressed gender bias in the law profession and induced the association to adopt measures to combat it. She was twice named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, in 1988 and 1991.

    Hillary was the first female member on Wal-Mart's board; she pushed successfully for the chain to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices, pushed unsuccessfully for more women to be added to the company's management. In her 1995 speech before the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing she declared "that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights."

    Together with Attorney General Janet Reno, Hillary helped create the Office on Violence against Women.

    She has successfully fought for reproductive rights, and promoted adoption: By refusing to approve the FDA Commissioner until the FDA ruled on Emergency Contraception, she helped get Emergency Contraception over the counter which if widely used could prevent about 1 million abortions a year and 2 million unwanted pregnancies the USA. In 1997, she initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which she regarded as her greatest accomplishment as First Lady. The act has funds to prevent child abuse and neglect and to assist families in crisis as well as promote adoption.

    She has thought about and studied our military: She is a respected member of the Armed Services committee. She is the only Senator asked to serve on the military committee that is looking at the future of our military. She has passed laws to take care of our National Guard and Reserves when they return from serving abroad.

    She has had international experience with leaders: As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jawboned the president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure. They sometimes sent her to places they didn't feel were safe for the President to go.

    Our candidates are applying for the job of CEO of our country, Chief Strategist, Chief Negotiator, Chief Treaty-maker, and Chief Diplomat. Please consider the resumes of our candidates and vote based upon their accomplishments and track-records. Please vote for Hillary Clinton.

    Join Senator Hillary Clinton at the Orpheum Theater:

    On Friday, February 1st, please join Senator Hillary Clinton at the historic Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. This is your chance to see and hear Hillary just 4 days before the California Primary! In addition, we will have a special performance by the Glide Ensemble. The event begins at 7pm. Tickets are available for $50 per person for general seating (these tickets will sell out today or tomorrow), $250 for supporter seating, $1,000 for friend seating and $2,300 for champion seating. Tickets are limited so reserve today!

    To purchase tickets online please visit www.hillaryclinton.com/NorCal.

    For more information please contact Sarah Bell at sarahb@iarchive.com or 650-528-4699.

  2. I too believe in a meritocracy.

    But what does it say about our democratic system if we have 24 consecutive years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton presidents?

    Something is very wrong with the Democracy.

  3. Democracy is seriously flawed favoring not the competent but the charismatic, well-financed, well-connected. Hitler was democratically elected as well as more recent elected failures I dont need to name. However short of the proverbial benevolent monarch it is the best system we have.

  4. Hillary is well-known as being an advocate for children and women's rigthts. She is also known as being very capable at fighting Republicans when needed. There are others who have a powerful voice in the world of children and women's rights. People with decades of experience. People like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and Oprah Winfrey. These highly experience people are supporting another highly experienced person named Barack Obama. Make no mistake, this election is about credibility. Hillary Clinton is an excellent politician who knows how to play the game. Obama is a statesmen and a leader, who stands on principles, not polls. Who unites people to build working coalitions. The Clintons' recent divisiveness in South Carolina are a good indication of the status quo political games we could expect in another Clinton administration. Obama's skill is not in playing games, but changing the game, for the future of our children and our country. And without a doubt, HE is ready to lead on Day One. You can learn more about Obama's experience at http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/education/.

  5. Edwards had the best policy proposals, hands down. In fact, the best stuff of Clinton and Obama was basically cribbed from him--he came out with the plan first. This was true for education, health care, and much more. He was also himself a product of public schools, and sent his kids (the older ones at least, since I think the younger ones have been home-schooled on the campaign trail) to public school as well. I like that. (Also, I'm the grandaughter of a mill worker and have had some similar personal losses, and I think Elizabeth is amazing! that's the heart stuff.)

    For a complex set of reasons, some good, some bad, some reasonable and some not, Edwards didn't get enough votes or money or coverage to run a viable campaign for the nomination. Too bad. He was good for the process though.

    On a policy level, Obama and Clinton have similar platforms and voting histories, with the (not so major) exception of her initial support for the war. I am grateful to Edwards for pulling them to the left in this process, and for getting them to be more specific about their platforms. Although it is not the only issue for me, both are attractive for their historic campaigns (African American and female).

    For reasons of electability and (more important) movement-building, I will now cast my vote for Obama. He has a refreshing way of pulling new people in, especially people my age and younger. And my moderate-Repub relatives say they will vote for him--but would vote for McCain over Clinton. So I think he is the better nominee.

    On education and most other topics, any of the above are surely better than the Republicans. I almost choked on my pretzel over Bush's latest school voucher (aka privatization) proposal in the State of the Union address, and haven't heard much different from the others in that party.

  6. From the Chronicle today by Matier and Ross.

    No teacher's pet: Clinton's big endorsement from the powerful California Teachers Association got upended over the weekend.

    It all began Thursday when the dozen-member executive board of the teachers union - headed by Clinton ally and longtime Santa Maria educator David Sanchez - announced it had voted unanimously to back Clinton in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

    Getting the teachers' backing would have opened up the union's substantial checkbook to Clinton. It also would have led to mass mailings to voters, including to the union's 360,000 members, plus the potential for major phone-bank help and other get-out-the-vote efforts on election day.

    And a board endorsement almost always guarantees the membership endorsement.

    But before teachers union leaders could get an up-or-down membership vote on Clinton over the weekend at a big confab in L.A., unrest broke out among the rank and file. They blocked any vote until the board's next meeting in April - two months after Tuesday's primary, when it really counts.

    Word is, it didn't help that Clinton's union forces had blocked the affiliated United Teachers of Los Angeles from endorsing Obama a week earlier - and that many of its members were on hand for Saturday's vote.

  7. Edwards is no longer in the race.

  8. Does anyone know where Clinton and Obama stand on NCLB?

  9. Edwards dropped out after Kate posted the poll. Nevertheless, some of us thought his education (and other issues too) platform was the best one, one that deserves attention, and one that pulled the others along. That's why I voted for him in this poll.

    In the wake of today's news, we Edwards supporters are trying to figure out who to vote for in the real primary next week, Obama and Clinton.

  10. For what it's worth, I'm honestly not even picking a candidate till it's time to vote, because I'm for WHOEVER CAN BEAT THE REPUBLICAN. (Within reason, given that I was trying to decide among Clinton, Obama and Edwards anyway.)

    I'm pretty much of an education wonk and can usually hairsplit even the most appealing candidate's education platform. But except for Joe Lieberman back when, when he supported vouchers, I'm not gonna quibble! Get the Republicans out of there and get us out of Iraq!

    (So I'm not voting in this poll for that reason.)

  11. Someone asked about Clinton's and Obama's positions on NCLB. Here they are (directly from their websites):

    "Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them."

    "End the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind."

    Finally, since Edwards has been mentioned as a leader on policy ideas in this race, here is his take on it, even though he has dropped out:
    "Edwards will radically overhaul No Child Left Behind to live up to its goal of helping all children learn at high levels. The law today judges children based on cheap standardized tests, forces schools to narrow the curriculum, fails to accurately identify struggling schools, and imposes unproven cookie-cutter reforms. Edwards supports better tests, broader measures of school success such as measuring students' progress, and giving states more resources and flexibility to identify and reform underperforming schools."

    Beyond NCLB, there are many education points and ideas on all their websites--just click under "issues." They are worth checking out. I personally second Caroline's and others' point: the differences amongst these folks are small compared to the difference between them as a group and the other party. I will be voting for Obama, though.

  12. Clinton recently came out with very strong criticism of NCLB.



    Caroline and others, I strongly urge you to consider the impact of this primary election. The reason that Democrats failed in the last election is due to the fact that the primaries resulted in such an unelectable candidate.

    NOW is the chance to change that.

    We need to vote for the person who is _genuinely_ most likely to carry the General Election.

    Fortunately, that happens to be the best candidate too.

    That person is Hillary Clinton.

  13. I think it is great that Clinton has recently become more outspoken and sharp on the issues, e.g., NCLB in the context of this nomination battle. They all have, and it's been a better campaign than I've seen in years. I mean, they actually have specific health care reform proposals (and yes indeed, let's thank Edwards for that, who led the way with his plan).

    However, I'm not sure that she is the candidate most likely to win, especially against the likely Republican nominee, John McCain. Against Romney or Huckabee yes, but not against McCain, who can attract independent voters. Clinton has high negatives with them. Obama is the one the GOP is afraid of because of his ability to do the same, and reach new voters too.

  14. Like, Caroline, my biggest policy issue is education when I vote - and it's a toss up for me between Obama and Clinton. As far as education, I think they would both be fine and a giant improvement over this administration.

    I was Hillary all the way until I read this back in December in The Atlantic: "Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters"

    I will be voting based on who I believe will truly lead us out of this international quagmire and offer a new vision around the world of what America is. I will be voting on who I believe really has the ability to change the world and the future for my children.

    Unfortunately, I really cannot get past that Clinton (like DiFi) voted to let Bush invade Iraq.

    Old School Democrats aren't helping us and are part of the problem.

    I also have an issue with the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton repeat. We need a new way in the U.S.

    The challenge for me is this: My 7 year old daughter, after a trip to D.C. last year, asked "Mom, why aren't there any lady presidents?"

    It was a parental moment I won't forget

  15. It's a poignant question.

    I have a friend (white) who is father by adoption to a son who is black. My friend has been leaning to Edwards, until today at least, as the most progressive candidate on the issues, but also has told me he was drawn to voting for the one that his son could look at and say, Daddy, that one looks like me. Because, as we all know, there have been no black presidents either. I read the other day that all 42 have all been from just a few nationalities, even--English, Dutch, German, Swiss, Scottish, Irish, Welsh. Maybe I'm missing one but you get the point.

    My friend wouldn't vote for just anyone who was black, but felt Obama was good enough, decent enough, to support and that this issue might put him over the top. I suppose others may feel the same about Hillary Clinton in terms of gender.

  16. Of course, the difference is that 51% - a majority - of our population is female, and a far smaller percentage - 10%? - is African American. So there is a statistical answer to "why no Black presidents?" -- that African Americans are a minority.

    But women, in terms of numbers, are not a minority.

    Here's an email I received from my 70-year-old mother:

    Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 6:37 PM
    To: 'K'
    Subject: RE: A Proud Moment

    Well said!

    As a woman of a much greater age, I remember...

    My surgeon, patting me on the hand, telling me not to worry, showing me where to sign, and never once telling me that I might wake up without a breast. And, I didn't ask!

    My gynecologist giving my fiancé and me a lecture on birth control, then refusing to give me a diaphragm until after our honeymoon.

    Countless teachers and other significant adults telling me that girls should hide their brains because boys don't like smart girls.

    Others telling me that teaching was the best job I could have to "fall back on" in case something happened to my husband.

    My doctor prescribing a tranquilizer for what he called "housewives eczema"
    and never once mentioning the addiction that would follow 14 years of casually renewed prescriptions.

    The stunning self-awareness that came with reading "The Feminine Mystique".

    My grandmother would have been shocked into silence at a woman running for President of the United States. My mother would have thought it "improper".
    I could never have imagined it. My daughter hoped it would happen...someday. My granddaughter takes it for granted.

    I can't wait to vote!

    -----Original Message-----
    From: K [mailto:katursi@sprintmail.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 6:05 PM
    To: undisclosed-recipients:
    Subject: A Proud Moment

    As a woman of a certain age, I remember life before....

    I remember job ad categories in the newspapers titled "Men Wanted" and "Women (or Girls) Wanted."

    I remember when getting pregnant could get you fired, simply because you were pregnant.

    I remember getting paid less than a man in the same position, simply because I was a woman.

    I remember when girls weren't allowed to play Little League, and girls'
    sports at all educational levels had to work with the meager leftovers from the boys' sport teams.

    I remember how, in some states, women could not own property, could not buy a house, couldn't even apply for a credit card.

    I remember hearing about botched illegal abortions, I remember birth control being illegal in many states.

    I remember when you couldn't get hired if you were a woman, because that job should go to a man who has to support his family.

    I remember when sexual harassment was part of everyday working life.

    I remember when they wouldn't allow women in the military, the police force, the firefighter ranks, or pretty much any other male-dominated career path.

    I remember working hard to get Illinois to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

    I remember when women weren't considered full human beings.

    But today, as I stood in the voting booth at Norridge Village Hall to cast my Primary ballot, I felt a rush of pride seeing a woman on the ballot running for president of the United States.

    It's about fucking time!

  17. Yes, it is about time. But. I hated the Clintons' underhanded attacks on Obama in South Carolina, including not-so-veiled references to racial issues with Obama; that was ugly. Then there were the nasty robocalls targeting Edwards.

    Beyond the campaign itself, there are the politics of triangulation, the corporate ties (and agenda). Not sure I can forgive NAFTA or DOMA from the 1990's, and yes that was Bill but I haven't heard her repudiate those. This is the politics of tiny gains over here and major losses over there. She talks about LBJ, and he was a master politico for sure, but he used his connections and acumen to pass the Voting Rights Act and the Great Society programs (before being derailed by the costs of Vietnam). I don't see Clinton either having that kind of political capital nor being willing to spend it! on the issues that will matter.

    It is complicated, because I think Obama *is* facing historic racism and Clinton *is* facing historic sexism in this election, and obviously their candidacies are ground-breaking. Yet there is this personality/character/ambition over principle issue with the Clintons, and that for me is not about her being a woman. I do see the folks who complain about her personality because they think she is a b****--the hatred of powerful women syndrome--but my doubts are not that.

    It may be a generational thing--I am GenX, not a Boomer. I feel an enormous debt and appreciation to the women who have come before me, from Sojourner Truth to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and up through the next wave with Betty Friedan et al, but I just can't vote for someone because she is a woman if there is someone on the ballot who is better. I also can't say "women before blacks" or the reverse. Heck, I was leaning to the southern white guy for his stand on the issues until he dropped out.

    And now it seems to me that Obama has a a far better chance of pulling the country together in a good direction, bringing back some of the "si se puede" spirit that my generation has hardly ever known in politics and government since we came of age post-Vietnam and post-Watergate. Not to mention, I think he really does have a better chance against McCain in the general.

    All that said, I will do precinct walking for whichever one is the nominee.

    In terms of women candidacies, it is clear that the barrier of viability has been crossed--we have come a long way since Pat Shroeder and Geraldine Ferraro. Maybe next time Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Edwards will run, or Janet Napolitano or any number of other women governors and legislators.

  18. Let's not forget we have a woman speaker of the house! Could anyone imagine that even 10 years ago? I'm with anonymous (8:57am). I too was going to vote for Edwards due to his policies and his overall stance on issues until he dropped out. I guess it was too bad he's white. How unfortunate. As far as who now? I am leaning towards one way due to character, but I'm keeping it open until Tuesday.

  19. Unfortunately, I think the statewide elections make more of an impact on education than the Federal government does. Yes, a Democratic president would probably radically alter NCLB (though I wonder, considering Ted Kennedy was a major supporter of the original NCLB -- if Obama gets elected, will Ted want to be sure NCLB gets preserved in some form?)

    People should be closely watching the state Senate and Assembly races this year, and demanding that the candidates address laughable education funding formulas in California. I was at an event tonight where Mark Leno talked very intelligently about the need to restore the Vehicle License Fee, because in his view that is the root of the current budget crisis; he is running against Carole Migden, who has also been an effective state Senator.

    The biggest issues here is simply this: California is 46th out of 50 in our per pupil expenditures on public schools. If we expect to have schools befitting the sophistication of our economy, we need to fund schools better. Until we do that, we can't really be surprised that our schools are underperforming.

  20. Did anyone see Hillary speak last night? Please share

  21. Speaking of school funding, can anybody here divine whether prop 92would hurt or help k-12 funding?

  22. Prop 92 would HURT K-12 funding. It's a fixed pot of money for education, so if community colleges get more of it, that means less for K-12 (as well as CSU and UC).

  23. Newsweek, with assistance from education "experts" Jeanne Allen and Thomas Toch, summarized Clinton's, Huckabee's, McCain's and Obama's positions on education, and then gave each candidate a grade.

    It's hard to know how Newsweek decided on the grades, because it depends entirely on one's perspective — it's not like there's a clear right or wrong. I'm not inclined to trust the judgment of a reporter whose education coverage I haven't followed. For the record, Newsweek gave Obama and McCain each a B+, Clinton a B- and Huckabee a D+.

    Newsweek's two-person panel of education experts covers a span from center to far-right, too — not exactly inclusive. Thomas Toch is an academic whose work I've run into when I was following Edison Schools closely; he's Mr. Centrist. Jeanne Allen is an anti-public-education firebrand closely linked with the Bush administration, head of the Center for Education Reform, which promotes privatization, charters and vouchers.

    Read the candidates' views and decide for yourselves.