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“In a recent USA Today opinion piece, Wendy Puriefoy, president of Public Education Network, focused on the almost complete absence of public education discussion and substance in the 2008 presidential campaign. In fact, in the GOP debate on Jan. 30 in Simi Valley, Calif., the word “education” was heard twice and the phrase No Child Left Behind was mentioned only once. In the Democratic debate between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Austin, Texas, “education” was uttered just five times. In the piece, Puriefoy asks the candidates, and all elected officials, five key questions regarding the need for education reform so that every child may benefit from a quality public education. Apparently Puriefoy is not alone in her sentiments, as many Ohio educators would assign the presidential hopefuls an incomplete when it comes to education, reports Scott Stephens in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. According to substitute teacher Julie Crudele, “I don’t hear anything about education, and that really scares me.” This also scares the powerful National Education Association (NEA), which has pointedly withheld an endorsement of any candidate. While the remaining Democratic candidates have quietly vied for the union’s support, neither has received the blessing from the NEA and its 3.2 million members that potentially account for six million votes. Reg Weaver, NEA president, says that before the NEA endorses any candidate they “want to know how America’s public schools fit into this culture of change that [the candidates] talk about so much.” Another mounting concern is that, at the National Governors’ Association winter meeting, little time was spent on education, reports Michelle McNeil for Education Week (third link). After all, if the governors aren’t talking about schools, while about half of their state budget is earmarked for K-12 and higher education, then who will? Regardless, education must be a top priority if America is to have any hope of solving the critical problems facing the country.”
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I believe we can all appreciate the importance of education, regardless of the national and/or international climate during any given period of time. However, does it truly matter how many times a candidate says the word ‘education’ or ‘NCLB’? Does it mean they care any less if that number seems low to us? At what number does a candidate offically ‘care’ about America’s children? 25? 40? I’m not sure this is an accurate judge of the commitment a candidate has towards our country’s future generations. What do you think?  

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It can be a daunting task to track down every presidential candidate and learn about his (or her!) position on one specific topic. Thanks to edweek.org, there is now a place to read up on and contrast both Democratic and Republican potentials’ perspectives on American education.

 

Visit http://www.edweek.org/medias/ew/flash/11politics/11politics.html to learn about every contender and finally be able to form an opinion about one of the most important topics concerning America’s future.

 

Are there candidates whose stances surprise you? Which Democrat and Republican do you think will end up competing for the presidency?

 

Don’t forget to come back to discuss your findings and opinions!

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