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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Monday, July 2, 2007

This Is So Like Us

Does this sound like us?

… Struggling to adapt that old decentralized [schooling] arrangement to the realities of the 21st century, with its globalizing economy, rising mobility, instant communications, and ebbing affection for local idiosyncrasy—and agonizing over what mechanisms might best yield a measure of high-standard uniformity and accountability without shackling schools and educators to a deadening, politically vulnerable, bureaucratic sameness.

If you have followed this blog at all, it should have a familiar ring to it. But I didn’t write it, and it’s not about America.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Education is Key To Ending Poverty

Yesterday I talked about how important strong K-12 schools are for getting kids college-ready. But why college ready? Because jobs that pay enough to support a family but don't require a bachelor's degree now demand the same level of preparation that college demands.

Last night during the All-American Presidential Forum at Howard University, presidential candidates were asked about the connection between education and poverty.  It was a great question, because we know that Americans living in poverty are much more likely to have dropped out of high school, and that dropouts have far lower earnings over their lifetime.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

College – What’s the Real Problem?

My wife and I have seven children and 18 grandchildren, so we know the cost of college can do to a family’s budget. And I appreciate some of the proposals put forth recently to make it easier for low-income students to have a chance to go to college.

But I have to tell you, I think those proposals overlook a very glaring problem for all college-bound students – They’re not ready.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Iowa Is Ready for ED

Our state launch in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday drew a really good turnout – from the news media, bloggers and, of course, a bunch of wonderful lively young students who took a break from summer vacation to join us.

Rather than have me tell you about it, you can watch two 10-minute videos from the event on the ED in 08 YouTube site. (The videos come from IowaPoliticsDotCom. We thank them for being there.)

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Finding Dollars to Do Right by Students

I’ve written a lot about all the benefits for our young students of expanding the amount of time they have for learning in school. (See my May 14, May 15 and June 14 blog posts.) More time and support for learning is one of the priorities of the ED in 08 campaign.

Now, I get asked about who would pay for this extra learning time, and that’s a fair question. We’re not here to dictate all the answers, but we do have some suggestions. (I always encourage your thoughts on these ideas.)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Make Your Voice Heard – Ask a Question

We have more presidential candidates and more presidential debates going on in 2007 than at any time I can remember. And we are working hard to get the moderators of these debates to ask questions about America’s schools and get the candidates to answer them.

Some of these debate questioners and sponsors are inviting people to send in questions. Let me encourage you to do that. I’ve been submitting questions to whomever and whenever I can.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Iowa-Bound: A Snapshot of Our Schools

We head out to Iowa tomorrow to launch the ED in 08 campaign on the ground there. This will be the third state (after South Carolina and New Hampshire) where we have established a presence.

I don’t mean to pick on Iowa, or any other state, but it does illustrate the problems we are trying to shine a light on – which is that we are not doing right by our young students.

According to Iowa’s own standards, 79 percent of fourth graders are proficient in math. On the National Assessment of Education Progress test, however, only 37 percent rate as proficient.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gone to LA; Back on Monday

I’m on my way to Los Angeles to speak to the annual gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. I’ll return on Monday.

In the meantime, here are two pieces I saw this week that I thought were pretty interesting.

Salary system luring faculty: Applications are up with DPS's incentive strategy (Denver Post)

Teacher Turnover Costs Systems Millions, Study Projects (Washington Post)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Life for Dropouts in the Real World

Some of my readers might think I sometimes overdo it in this space when I throw out a lot of statistics. I’ll accept that judgment and just say I’m trying to build a foundation of credibility for the message that we have a problem with our American schools and we have got to act.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good Jobs Will Be Waiting. It May Be A Long Wait.

At ED in 08, we are all about creating schools that will prepare America’s children for college, for work and for life.

While we are totally focused on the children, we recognize other realities: These children are our future, too. They will pay the taxes to support Social Security, for instance.

And, of course, they will fill the jobs that we want our economy to create. It seems that those jobs require higher skills every day. Just ask any parent.Keep Reading...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Grades Are In - American Taxpayers Give Schools a C

Every student in America can sympathize with our schools today. Report cards came out, and while we're not looking at Ds and Fs, the news certainly could have been better.

ETS, the people who do the SAT college entrance examinations, released poll results today that shows that 44 percent of adults in the U.S. gave our schools a "C".

Now, a "C" isn't flunking, but how many parents are satisfied with just average? I speak as a parent myself when I say, that's just not good enough.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Teacher Pay Experiments Can Work … If Teachers Help Develop

I was struck by a piece in the New York Times today that talks about different ways that school systems are finding to pay teachers more. 

A consensus is building across the political spectrum that rewarding teachers with bonuses or raises for improving student achievement, working in lower income schools or teaching subjects that are hard to staff can energize veteran teachers and attract bright rookies to the profession.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

USA Today: ‘States Game the System’

An editorial in today’s USA Today talks about how states have adopted easy achievement tests to make themselves look good for the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

When students in most states take the national achievement test, they don’t look nearly as good.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do longer hours equal more learning?

The Christian Science Monitor asked that question in a headline today.

I won't tease you. The answer is 'Yes' - provided you plan right and get buy-in from parents, teachers and the community. (It's true some students don't like it, but an awful lot do.)

This experiment involving 10 schools in Massachusetts has specific lessons for every school district trying to help our young students prepare themselves for college, for work and for life.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two Clippings Worth Reading

We read a lot over here at ED in 08 about efforts local school districts and states are trying out to solve some of the problems with schools.

From time to time, I plan to point them out to you and see what you think. Drop me a line or leave a comment below.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

‘Fixing D.C. Schools’ … And All the Rest, Too

The new mayor of Washington, DC, is in the process of taking control of the public schools in the nation’s capital. That seems to have inspired The Washington Post to launch an ambitious series of stories on “Fixing D.C.’s Schools.” 

The Post  is looking at the challenges that the DC school system faces, the history of reform in the system and reform s  that have worked in other urban school districts. An interactive map lets you compare schools in the system based on a number of criteria.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Two Takes on Testing – Is There A Third Way?

We saw an extraordinary exchange on national testing and standards over the weekend in the Washington Post.

The Post editorial page called for national standards while Education Secretary Margaret Spellings responded in an op-ed that states should continue to be allowed to set their own standards, and they will raise standards on their own.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

A Wake-Up Call

Americans like to think that our country is exceptional, and it is. For more than 100 years, we have enjoyed more freedom and economic opportunity than just about anywhere else in the world.

Families today may be worried about health care, gas prices, and the war in Iraq, but they never doubt that we will pass on America’s legacy of freedom and opportunity to the next generation.

There’s a new report on the American economy that is raising some real red flags. No one likes bad news, but if we care about our children and our country, we better pay attention to this report.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

A Map That Shows State-National Test Differences

We found a really interesting tool online today, and I’m not going to say much except check it out.

It’s a map from Gannett News Service called “Shortchanging Students: How state tests put image ahead of performance.” I really like that headline.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

An Open Letter to the Presidential Candidates

Ken Mehlman and I sent the following open letter to all of the presidential candidates today. (Ken is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a member of the ED in 08 steering committee. I was chairman of the Democratic National Committee so this is truly a bipartisan effort.)

We encourage you to read it and tell your favorite candidate that you agree with it.

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