Friday, August 24, 2007

Kanye West and ED – Dedicated to Making a Difference

Today marks the 100th post of Roy’s Blog on Schools.

And regular readers will know that I range far and wide over the school reform landscape.

Still, today’s topic – hip-hop singer Kanye West -- may surprise a few people. I confess I’m a little surprised myself. My experience with dance music runs more toward swing than hip-hop.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iowa Working to Regain a Tradition of Excellence

Iowa is an interesting state in an interesting situation. It has recently awakened to the fact that its schools no longer provide the first-rate education for its young citizens that has been a proud tradition here.

I have Iowa on my mind because I’m heading out that way later today to speak to the Rotary Club in Des Moines. It has me reading up on the state a bit.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Money Not Translating into Academic Success

We got another report on America’s schools last week from the U.S. Department of Education.

In short, it shows that we spend more on our schools and our students are financially better off than most, but that money and effort does not seem to be helping our poorest students perform in terms of math and science.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From New York City, Lessons for America

Report after report, we keep seeing the same things when diverse groups get together to study poor performance in our schools. They recommend a lot of the same things that we at ED in 08 are - standards, effective teachers, time and support for learning.

The latest report comes from the New York City Council Middle School Task Force, which was created last spring to look at "persistent low performance of New York City's middle-grade schools."

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Thank You, George & David, for a Serious Question about Schools

It took a while but we finally saw an actual debate among the candidates about American schools.  David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register and George Stephanopoulos engineered it yesterday morning during the gathering of Democratic candidates on ABC.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

How About Some Tough Questions on Schools in Iowa?

The Democratic presidential candidates get together in Iowa on Sunday for another debate, which could produce some interesting questions about our schools.

Iowa has an interesting history in terms of its schools. It has traditionally prided itself on the quality of its students and schools, and it has more than its share of good colleges for a small state.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Give and Take on Teacher Pay – The Denver Example

Teacher pay is one of the most sensitive and difficult issues in the entire equation of getting our schools to prepare America’s students for college, for work and for the rest of their lives.

One of the things we are trying to do with ED in 08 is provide concrete examples of things that have been tried. One of these is the ProComp teacher pay plan in Denver in my home state of Colorado.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ED Scores Big at Iowa Straw Poll

If ED were a Republican candidate, we would have come in second on Saturday in Iowa.

A whole group of our young ED in 08 campaign staff flew in to Ames for the Iowa Republican Straw Poll that was held last Saturday.

Our eager young staff handed out “I Am ED” T-shirts, Maggie Moo’s ice cream and lots and lots of cold water. They also got to meet thousands of political activists who showed up for the straw poll, which is a cross between a campaign caucus and a county fair.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ohio Goes Whole-Hog to Get It Right

I want to give kudos to the state of Ohio for three things:

  1. For tackling the issue of its schools and getting the best minds to help do something about it.
  2. For setting the bar high and not settling for second-best.
  3. For demanding and getting a detailed plan of action.

Now, what brings on this outburst of praise?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Dropping Out to Avoid a Test

We learned from Newsweek on Friday that the United States has quietly dropped out of TIMSS.

What is TIMSS and why would anyone care? you ask.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

In the Battle of Ideas, Schools Should be One

I am intrigued by a Web site I visited recently called The Ideas Primary.

It has as its theme “The Presidential Election as a Battle of Ideas.” It explains its mission this way: ...

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Education Becoming a Key Issue in the Election

Lately we've criticized the media for not asking candidates about education during presidential debates.  Even the candidates have started complaining that they are not being given time to talk about America's schools.

On Monday my colleague Marc Lampkin said it again following the ABC News debate in Iowa.  But he went a step further: "Since the debate moderators failed to press the candidates about their plans to address America's education crisis - I urge the candidates to proactively lay out their comprehensive K-12 education proposals as students prepare to go back to school."

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What You Can Do for Schools

I’m starting to see ‘Back to School’ signs in the stores where I live so a new school year can’t be far away.

This is the time of year when we, as a nation, focus on schools. It’s like a second New Year’s Day.

At ED in 08, we are working on new ways to put pressure on our presidential candidates to speak out about how they would lead us, as a nation, to deliver the schools that will prepare our children for college, for work and for the rest of their lives.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Working Families Need Good Schools

Tonight the Democratic presidential candidates debate again, this time under the auspices of the AFL-CIO and MSNBC. If ever there was a moment for this group of candidates to show genuine concern for working families and the issues that affect them, this would appear to be it.

So what does that have to do with the ED in 08 campaign? Plenty.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Plugging Away in Iowa

As we reported in Friday’s blog post, the ED in 08 campaign is making a major push in Iowa over the next week to get candidates talking about their agendas for America’s schools.

This morning, that state’s leading newspaper, The Des Moines Register, ran a piece about issue campaigns operating in the state and made prominent mention of the ED in 08 campaign.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Strong Schools Are Key to Economic Competitiveness and Other Issues

On Sunday the Des Moines Register ran a story called “Iowans prod GOP candidates on schools.”  Then on Monday it shared results of a new poll showing that Iowa’s voters are desperate to hear more from candidates about education and some other issues like global competitiveness, health, and taxes.

Here’s the thing.  Candidates need to be talking more about our schools.  But they also need to talk about education if they want to be taken seriously on those other issues.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Turning Up the Heat in Iowa

I think it’s fair to say that ED in 08 is pulling out the stops in Iowa over the next 10 days.

Today we launch an aggressive TV ad campaign featuring a real bright light in the ED in 08 campaign, 17-year-old Abby Bowman. Abby just graduated from Iowa’s Johnston High School and did an amazing job for us during our rollout in Iowa on June 26.

The reason for this is simple: We need to get the presidential candidates talking about America’s schools and how they are going to lead this nation to give our students the preparation for life that they deserve.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another Chance to Ask Questions

The Huffington Post blog has just announced a new kind of candidate question and answer session, and you have chance to get your questions about America’s schools asked.

It’s being called a “Presidential Candidate Mashup” and it will work like this. People like you send in questions to the Huffington Post. Charlie Rose, the public TV interviewer, has agreed to sit down and pose the best questions to the Democratic candidates. (Huffington Post is trying to line up the Republican candidates as well.)

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Yet Another Poll Shows Public Concern about Schools

I'm not trying to overwhelm you with polls, but the polls are overwhelming.

This one comes from the Hoover Institution's Education Next and Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance.

Let me quote the first two sentences from the report:

Americans both care about their schools and want them to improve. Though adults give the nation's public schools only mediocre grades-a plurality confer a "C"-they are willing to invest more money in public education and they are reasonably confident that doing so will improve student learning.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Warning to Candidates: Americans Mad, and Getting Madder

We got a copy of a new poll here in the ED in 08 office today that offers just absolute proof that American voters are really worried about our schools and are really fed up that the candidates don’t get this.

According to this poll from Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research, 73 percent describe America’s public schools either as in crisis (29 percent) or as a major problem (45 percent).

Three out of four believe our schools have serious problems. Imagine that!

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Schools Affect Other Issues

You know, we’ve been writing and talking about America’s schools for more than three months now. And we’ve had great response from a lot of readers.

We want to spend the next week or so focusing on how good schools can have a positive impact on other issues … and how poor schools can contribute to problems.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Edutopia Asks … Enough Education Talk from Candidates?

Are the candidates talking about public education enough?  I say NO!

Yesterday Edutopia, the education foundation of filmmaker George Lucas, started an online poll that asked that question.  I voted no and left this comment:

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lawrence O’Donnell: Why I Support ED in 08

A lot happened in South Carolina on Monday.  I couldn’t be there, so today and tomorrow I’d like to share reports from my colleagues who were there in my place.

First, ED in 08 hosted a wonderful discussion about education on Monday afternoon with The Creative Coalition and the South Carolina Democratic Leadership Council.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to Make Performance-Based Pay Work

I watched the candidates name their favorite teachers on Monday. But CNN asked the wrong question. They should have asked: How will you, as president, put great teachers – the favorite teachers of tomorrow’s students – in every classroom in America?

I saw a new report this week from the Working Group on Teacher Quality that suggests that performance-based pay is a pretty good answer.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Time for More Substance on Education

All week we followed CNN’s coverage leading up to last night’s debate in South Carolina. During many of their previews they talked about how education was the top issue among the videos submitted to YouTube, beating out all the others.

We were excited that Americans seemed to agree with Aaron, a 13 year-old from Tennessee who said he thinks education is vital to America’s future and asked why it has been ignored in the election so far.  (In fact, we released a poll yesterday showing that education is the number one issue for Hispanic voters, 89 percent of whom want the next President to make it a top priority.)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Schools the No. 1 Issue for Latino Voters

We’re in Miami today at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, and we have just released the results of a poll of Latino voters.

Some of the findings are real shockers – Latinos say education, more than any other issue (including immigration, jobs, and health care) will have the greatest impact on their presidential vote, and 90 percent say that improving the quality of our public schools should be a “very important” priority for the president.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting it Right

The first CNN/YouTube debate is tonight, and here at ED in 08 we’re hoping the questions and the candidates address the urgent need to improve America’s schools.  So it’s fitting that yesterday the Baltimore Sun ran a front-page story about excellent schools that “get it right”:

Whether they are in wealthy or poor neighborhoods, schools with lots of high-scoring students share certain characteristics. They have experienced teachers who stay for years, and they offer extracurricular activities after school. Sometimes, they have many students in gifted-and-talented classes working with advanced material.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

New Poll of Latino Voters Plus Democratic Debate – Both on Monday

A number of us from the ED in 08 campaign are flying down to Miami for a town hall discussion Monday about schools and education issues at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza.

While we are there, we will have the results of a new poll of Latino voters about the issues that concern them. I expect schools to be high on the list.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

You Can Do a Lot for ED in 08

I pointed out yesterday how a simple action like making a video of your questions about schools has already put the issue of America’s schools and education on the radar of the next round of presidential debates.

Actions do have impacts.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Questions about Schools Are Building Up, Having an Impact

Congratulations to all you folks who made a video of yourselves asking a question about America’s schools! CNN was just bowled over.

We have been asking people to submit videos of questions about schools in the hope that CNN and YouTube would use some of them during the presidential debates they are cosponsoring.

On Monday, CNN reported that 190 of the 1,044 debate questions submitted so far have been about our schools and education. That’s almost one out of every five questions and it’s more than any other topic.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another Sign of Progress

More and more now, we are beginning to see signs that more and more people are paying attention to the state of America’s schools.

We had a Democratic presidential candidate stand up in front of the largest teachers union not long ago and say the words “merit pay” out loud … and not be driven from the room.

More recently – just last week, in fact – a Republican candidate sat on stage at the Aspen Institute with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and talked about the need for standards that would apply to all students so that “children and parents from one state will know how they’re measuring up with other states and other children.”

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Monday, July 16, 2007

A Lot of New Things on the ED in 08 Web Site

If you are not checking the ED in 08 Web site regularly, let me tell you, you should.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

More Time for Learning Produces … More Learning

A new study came into the ED in 08 offices yesterday from the Center on Education Policy

In a nutshell, it offers more evidence that more time for learning can produce more learning.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Match Expectations to Reality, or Raise Expectations?

We saw this editorial from the Gadsden (Alabama) Times about the high number of Alabama high school graduates who show up for college unprepared for college work.

The editorial writer noted that “28 percent of Alabama's graduates who enrolled in a state college in 2006 didn't have the basic skills the school required for college-level math or English.”

That’s about par for the course nationwide, which the editorial pointed out. 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Real Leadership Looks Like

Here at the ED in 08 campaign, we are always asking people to demand national leadership on what most people think of as "just" a local issue. Today I want to take this a step farther. I want to show you what real leadership looks like.

Meet The State, the daily newspaper in Columbia, S.C. In an editorial yesterday, the editors of The State urged their fellow citizens to stick with education reforms they enacted nine years ago ... that make the state look bad to a casual observer.

Here's what happened. In 1998, the South Carolina Legislature passed the Education Accountability Act, requiring higher and higher standards for students in South Carolina's schools.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Minorities Deserve Answers about Our Schools

We believe that all American students deserve better schools so we have not drawn a lot of attention to particular groups of students.

But the fact is, minority families depend on good schools for the learning that leads to lifelong opportunities. Yet minority students are far less likely to attend strong schools with high expectations and qualified teachers.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

A Letter to the Editor – Zero for Three

I thought I would be quiet today and let someone else take a turn.

Fred Bramante, the former chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education and a member of the New Hampshire advisory board for ED in 08, writes:

Zero for three: Three networks (MSNBC, FOX, and CNN) have hosted nationally televised Presidential debates yet, not one question on how we will cure the education ills of our nation.
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Friday, July 6, 2007

A Crack in the Teacher Pay Discussion

I saw an intriguing item out of the National Education Association annual convention yesterday.

A presidential candidate actually stood before the nation’s largest teachers union and said that teacher performance and compensation should be linked.

At the ED in 08 campaign, we believe our schools need an effective teacher in every classroom, and we as Americans need to do what it takes to get those teachers there.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Americans Deserve Leadership on Our Schools

We have just celebrated yet another anniversary of our declaration of independence, an effort that was eventually welcomed by most in the American colonies, but that was in fact led by a very small group of leaders.

Think what might have happened if we had not had that handful of far-sighted individuals in each of the colonies.

Even the best ideas and best causes can fail for lack of leadership.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Have a Good Fourth!

The ED in 08 staff and I have been running pretty hard these last three months, getting a presidential-caliber campaign off the ground. We are leaving the office  early  today to celebrate the Fourth of July with our families and friends. We hope you do the same.

For those of you who need a blog fix, let me refer you to the speech I made to a national summit on dropouts in Washington in May. We called the speech, “Education – A New Definition of Freedom".

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