Why involve the presidential candidates in Education?

I know some people are wondering why ED in 08 is trying to involve presidential candidates in what is traditionally a local issue.

That’s a fair question.

First, please understand this is not about federal control or federal mandates for the states and local communities. That’s not it at all.

It’s about leadership. You know, the presidency provides a real “bully pulpit” for whoever holds that office. That person can talk about anything, and people not only listen, they pay attention and a lot of them take action just because the president has spoken.

That’s a lot of power. That’s a lot of potential for leadership. And we want the next person who holds that office to be prepared to use that bully pulpit to bring the country together to address the problems that our schools and our students face.

Imagine this. Imagine you’re the next president and you wake up on January 21, 2009. It’s your first day in office. The whole world is watching you.

You have a pile of issues on that desk in the Oval Office just waiting for you to pick one. We – Strong American Schools – ED in 08 – the people who believe as we do that we have to do something positive about education now … we want you, on your first day in office, to use your leadership to get our country to address education.

You – the new president – are not just the president of Washington, DC, or of Congress. You are president of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. You are president of thousands of communities across this great land. You are responsible to provide leadership.

So we want you to make a Kennedyesque or Reaganesque call to get this done.

The next president will pick one issue on that first day in office … and we want it to be education, because people will listen, they will pay attention and they will start acting.

That’s why we are getting presidential candidates involved today.

Posted by Roy Romer at 04/26/2007 05:01:47 PM | 

Perhaps we should be giving some examples of what that leadership should look like, other than proclaiming the next President will be the Education President. I would like the President to encourage local school boards and districts to adopt a more "charter" like management and control structure, giving responsibility and control to the building Principals. I would like to see him/her publicly honor them with a visit and highlight their successes. What else can the President do?
Posted by: Roger McPherson ( Email ) at 4/26/2007 7:05 PM

The current president came in as an "education" president and was able with bipartisan support to enact NCLB. This piece of legislation both brought attention to education and allowed for some measure of accountability. What more do you think a president can do?
Posted by: Erin Johnson ( Email ) at 4/26/2007 9:51 PM

Good start, Roy. Great case statement for increased political involvement in education (by education, I think you mean public schooling). I agree with your call for presidential candidates to tell voters how they intend to work with state and local educators and school boards to arrive at rigorous American education standards. I don't see imminent value for students in calling for community consensus about what constitutes an acceptable standard without seeing your (or someone's) vision of what an educated person will do with their schooling, say in 2010, 2015, or whatever date your team selects. The plan seems too vague and thus too complicated for consensus beyond, "Yes, schooling is important. Let's talk about it some more. Here's what I'll do to get the talk going." It's curious that you have not cited in the case statement the largest (over a million students in many locations) controlled empirical study of teaching-learning that was based at the University of Oregon a couple of decades ago. Those procedures and results made common sense and identified direct actions for teachers to repeat the results in other classrooms with other students. Those procedures still work. Most people use them in their daily lives. No political action required. I wonder if it might be helpful for your team to consider how your public awareness campaign will yield more student learning than the shelved UO study offers. Thanks for your efforts.
Posted by: Bob ( Email | Visit ) at 4/26/2007 10:23 PM

I whole heartedly agree! Our high schools must move into the 21st century and that is impossible as long as any child leaves elementary unprepared to read at a competent level! Let's move on this. Thanks
Posted by: Elizabeth B. Balcerek ( Email ) at 4/27/2007 9:07 AM

Effective teachers in every classroom: Usually "compensation" is suggested as the driver, as Mr. Roamer has done. But, before you start funding levels, you've got to acknowledge and improve the pipeline through which the majority of classroom teachers come. They come from U.S. colleges and universities. Ask the presidents of such institutions which department has both the least expert professors and the weakenst students. Answer: teacher education. So, befor deciding the pay level for classroom teachers, let's start with the departments of education at those colleges and universities which enroll more than thirty students annually in such programs. Let's put those students with the most qualified and most demanding professor-scholars. Let's be careful about which students are allowed to stay in the teacher-ed program. Let's cull them from the program early in the program. I am not dumb. The large teacher-ed programs are run on the cheap. Those who instruct are paid the least; the classes are large; the students are certification oriented so pay their bills. To begin culling the weak and academically infirm from such a chosen major is not as "cost effective" as letting them limp along, providing weaker and weaker benchmarks, until the majority of graduates are not those teachers who have the expertise to teach those who need expert teaching.
Posted by: Cynthia Parsons, Ed.D. (Honorary) ( Email ) at 4/28/2007 11:38 AM

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