Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A despicable John McCain add, and Obama's education policies

I hope people that watch this realize that its just ridiculous that anyone would actually support sex education to kindergartners.

It was actually a bill, not created by Obama, that teach kids how to protect themselves from sexual predators.

McCain is attacking Obama's education record because McCain has no new ideas about education. Basically, his only "idea" is to repeat the Republican talking about about school vouchers that first gained fruition during the 1980's under Ronald Reagan.

Obama's much more expansive and modern education plan actually comes from Obama's own association with policy experts, some of which were his neighbors in Chicago.

This column from the conservative columnist David Brooks states:

"it’s worth noting that both sides of this debate exist within the Democratic Party. The G.O.P. is largely irrelevant. If you look at Barack Obama’s education proposals — especially his emphasis on early childhood — you see that they flow naturally and persuasively from this research. (It probably helps that Obama and Heckman are nearly neighbors in Chicago). McCain’s policies seem largely oblivious to these findings. There’s some vague talk about school choice, but Republicans are inept when talking about human capital policies."

The debate referenced is how to close the gap between the rich and the poor, the answer is education:

" As Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz describe in their book, 'The Race Between Education and Technology,' America’s educational progress was amazingly steady over those decades (between 1870 and 195), and the U.S. opened up a gigantic global lead. Educational levels were rising across the industrialized world, but the U.S. had at least a 35-year advantage on most of Europe. In 1950, no European country enrolled 30 percent of its older teens in full-time secondary school. In the U.S., 70 percent of older teens were in school."

And how can we really progress education:

"Heckman points out that big gaps in educational attainment are present at age 5. Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not. By 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, who will complete high school and college and who won’t."


"It’s not globalization or immigration or computers per se that widen inequality. It’s the skills gap. Boosting educational attainment at the bottom is more promising than trying to reorganize the global economy."

This really hits home with me because my experience as a volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters recounted here. Where my little was just so far behind academically from his peers that high school graduation was an enormous barrier. And his own personal ego maybe, or fear to admit or face how far behind he was really inhibited him from catching up.

I am not an education expert. But when one candidate, McCain is throwing out weak and desperate slander, instead of having the debate on ideas, and another is actually proposing ideas that have backing in current research...

These issues are important enough to have the debate. Unfortunately, the Republican party is the party without ideas.


Davey said...

Thanks for posting this one Scott. I don't get to see these kinds of ads very often but I'm always blown away when we let politicians get away with this stuff. Until we start calling them out on this they will continue to treat us like we're stupid.

H said...

I really don't think the President can do anything to fix education. It happens on a local level. No Child Left Behind is a good idea, but really only caused problems for already existing good teachers.

tempe turley said...

Helena, I disagree. Of course education happens on a local level, but the federal government has an important role to play:

1) Take advantage of the latest educational research to influence general policy at a high level so that ideas can be readily shared across the country.

2) Provide funding to the states to enhance education and teachers salaries. You can't leave funding completely up to the states because some states simply are poorer than other states. Education needs to be broadly based and broadly funded.

3) In particular to this specific article, Obama places special attention to 0-5 education, providing opportunities through, again federally sponsored grants provided to states to implement pre-K education.

Again, point 3) comes directly from the latest research.

I really get tired when I hear the old Republican standby that these things need to be solved on a local level...

That's exactly why the poor neighbood educational systems are in a state of neglect while rich neighborhoods get all of the best resources and best teachers.

Ok, I'm done ranting...

H said...

1) The latest research is all fine and good but you can't and shouldn't implement it on a federal level. There are countless times that the newest phenomenom in education hits many a classroom, only to come and go. There really is no "best" way to teach, there are only the best teachers.

2 and 3 are all about funding. That's the only thing I think the federal govt. is good for when it comes to schools. How do you disperse this money?! That's what I want to hear from the candidates, nothing more.

I would argue that the gap on who completes high school and who doesn't has more to do with their family environment and the influence of their peers and less to do with their preschool years. I've taught both the very poor and the very rich, when they come from loving and caring families who want to support them they succeed. Some of the kids who struggle the most are the ones whose parents forked out the most money.

tempe turley said...

Helena, yes funding, but also standards that are consistent across states...

Regarding research... I think it is important and should not be disregarded.

Granted good teachers and good schools at a local level should be given enough autonomy to do what works on the ground.

But having federal money and involvement collecting data, doing research and then getting knowledge out there so that teachers can be informed and be willing to try new approaches and adapt as things work. This is vitally important as well...

I'm really sensitive to this because the internet really opens this up. And, since we're homeschooling, we can look at math curriculums, for example, examine Singapore, or Saxton, or other curriculums and see what works for us.

In regards to early education... It doesn't necessarily take money, but a nurturing environment where small children are exposed to language and reading and engagement rather than thrust in front of a tv.

I don't know all of the details, but I think Obama's plan is to provide some of this for those families, especially the poor single mothers in the worst neighborhoods, with options so that kids get more of this, especially when it simply is not available in the home.

Again, David Brooks sites research that I have not studied, so I'm a little naive on this point.

But my primary point is that McCain is not even having the debate.

I want to see some good debate on these and other issues, but the Democratic party is the only one thinking through these issues right now in any deep way.

Brian Barker said...

I see that Barack Obama's education policy is that everyone should learn a foreign language, but which one should it be?

The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese, and the Americans prefer Spanish.Yet this leaves Mandarin Chinese out of the equation.

Interestingly nine British MP's have nominated Esperanto for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008.

Detail can be seen at