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Election Watch 2008:
Where do the candidates stand on education?

September marks the reopening of the nation's schools, as well as the two-month countdown to November's much anticipated presidential election. In the wake of the recent Democratic and Republican National conventions, it is timely to revisit the 2008 candidates' respective plans for holding schools accountable in the new administration. Where do Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain stand on education? Read below for features from the two candidates' education plans.
The McCain Plan

  • Build on the Lessons of No Child Left Behind: Maintain an emphasis on standards and accountability for achievement, while steering away from the current emphasis on group averages toward a focus on the individual student.
  • Provide Funding For Needed Professional Teacher Development: Direct the first 35 percent of Title II funding to the school level so principals and teachers can focus these resources on the specific needs of their schools.
  • Reform the "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program": Use $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings for students.

The Obama Plan

  • Reform No Child Left Behind: 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.
  • Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field.
  • Support English Language Learners: Support transitional bilingual education and help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Read more about the 2008 presidential candidates' plans on the education pages of their official Web sites:

The McCain Plan >>  
The Obama Plan >>


Latest News

Obama and McCain stake out positions — if not details — on education
Now that both party conventions are over, the public has a bit clearer picture of where the presidential candidates stand on the issue of education -- if not in substance, then at least in rhetoric. At the risk of oversimplifying the positions, this blog features a drive-by summary of the two candidates, based on their convention speeches.
Read more in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch >> 

Los Angeles Sets School-Rescue Program
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has created a partnership that will run the city's schools as part of an education reform. The reform will allow the public to decide on the partnership's management. The management is tasked with improving minimum proficiency levels and reducing overcrowding in city schools. Villaraigosa's creation of the partnership follows the California state court's refusal to focus power over the public education system in the mayor's office.
Read more in The Wall Street Journal >>

Major college funding revamp in works
Louisiana is moving to a new higher education funding formula that focuses more on school performance and student needs than on the current system of per-student funding by the state. Colleges are responding to the wishes of Governor Bobby Jindal and to recent resolutions from the legislature to be more accountable by rewarding strong performance while also focusing on workforce development, said state Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen.
Read more in the Baton Rouge Advocate >>

18 New Charter Schools to Open in September, Bloomberg Announces
Eighteen new charter schools are scheduled to start classes in New York City this fall, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on August 18th. The new schools - the largest number to open in the city in a single year - will bring the number of charter schools in the city to 78, serving 24,000 students, up from 17 schools with 3,200 students when Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002. Charter schools, which receive public money but are run by independent organizations, fit neatly into Mr. Bloomberg's private-sector sensibility, and have been a key element of his effort to overhaul the city school system. Largely freed from the bureaucratic and union regulations that apply to traditional public schools, charters can be closed if their students perform poorly.
Read more in The New York Times >>

Assessing Preschoolers: “Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How”Government agencies, school systems, and other organizations operating preschool programs should be clear about why they assess preschool students and how the results are used, a National Research Council study found. Requested by Congress, the August 4 report says preschool assessments should be part of a larger system of education and care for young children that also includes professional development for teachers and ongoing monitoring.
Read more in Education Week >>

Philadelphia School District Superintendent releases five-part accountability program
Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman unveiled a new accountability system on August 13 that will go far beyond standardized test scores to determine how well each school and region is performing. To create the "performance matrix," Ackerman and her leadership team borrowed ideas from the New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., school systems. In September, each school will receive performance targets in five assessment areas based on data from the three previous school years. In June, schools will learn if they hit their targets, missed them but made progress, or missed them and lost ground.
Read more in the Philadelphia Daily News >>

ACT scores down, but more students college-ready
Average scores on the ACT college entrance exam dipped slightly for the high school class of 2008 as the number of students taking the exam jumped by nine percent compared to last year. This year's results, released August 13, reveal that more than three in four test-takers will likely need remedial help in at least one subject to succeed in college. But the ACT's creators said it was good news that average scores held nearly steady even as more students took the exam. That means the total number who've earned benchmark scores showing they're ready for college-level work is rising.
Read more from the Associated Press >> 

Beyond the SAT
Richard C. Atkinson , president emeritus of the University of California, and Saul Geiser, former director of admissions research at the University of California's Office of the President, discuss the current state of the SAT – how the test has evolved and where it needs to go moving forward. Both agree that recent and ongoing research probing the efficacy of the SAT suggests that the U.S. may be on the verge of opening a productive new chapter in the long national conversation on what academic merit is and how it should be measured.
Read more in Forbes >>



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