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0 comments | July 11, 2007 | 4:32 PM | posted by Derek Archer

Hillary Clinton: Better Curriculum Needed--More Field Trips!

Sure, tests do not tell the whole story. Hillary called for more learning and less memorizing and testing in the classroom. This is great, but there still should be some evaluative standard for the children. If “Little Johnny” has gone on thirty field trips during his elementary education years, he is automatically ready for high school, right?

Former South Carolina Senator John Edwards: Empower Teachers! Not Tests!

Edwards joined the brigade of standardized-test-bashers when he gave his speech in front of the NEA convention in Philadelphia. He argued that Americans need to empower teachers to make education a success. Good point, Mr. Edwards, but even empowered teachers need some feedback.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd: More Funding—More Ways of Evaluation

Senator Chris Dodd said that he would make it his number one priority fully to fund No Child Left Behind (NCLB) once he became president. He also believes that NCLB should evaluate children on more than one plane—there should be more than just tests. The only problem is that the other evaluation methods he mentioned—drop-out rates, overall improvement rates, and participation in advanced placement courses—are test related evaluations as well. How do we know when kids show marked improvements or succeed in advanced placement courses? It is largely through their test scores.

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Fully-fund Public Education from Pre-K to College

Dennis Kucinich throws the old answer down an ever-gaping drain—schools need full funding to be a success. He proposes total government funding for public education for every child from pre-kindergarten to a two-four year college degree. How much money can we throw at the public school system, Rep. Kucinich, without seeing many returns?

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico: Improve No Child Left Behind

“When I am elected, the No Child Left Behind program will be improved, or it will be abolished!” said Bill Richardson to the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association. He also called for the abolishment of the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) reports from the NCLB program, calling for more than one test score assessment. While this sounds reasonable, perhaps the problem goes deeper than test scores.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama: Teach More!

Teachers should be allowed to teach as they need, not teach for a test. The No Child Left Behind Act aims at noble goals, but it is not reaching those goals, argued Obama. More funding and better teachers are the answer. Let the teachers teach!

This is a swell aspiration, Senator Obama, but allowing great teachers to teach well is only half the battle. Students spend about half their day in school and half at home. If parents do not join with teachers to emphasize the importance of a student’s classroom experience, the battle is only half won.

Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee: Prepare for the Next Generation

Mike Huckabee argued before the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association in Philadelphia that teachers should be compensated for the ongoing education they need while performing their teaching duties. There is merit to this argument, but where should the government draw the line? What and how much should the government actually fund with your tax dollars? Just remember that the more money the government spends, the more money it will need to take from you.

Delaware Senator Joe Biden: The Record Goes On

Senator Joe Biden reiterated some of the same statements that had been made by his fellow presidential candidates at the convention. He called for better paid teachers, smaller classrooms, pre-kindergarten education, college possibilities for the qualified, and different testing methods. Joe Biden and the rest of the presidential candidates at the NEA convention sound like a broken track record. They all point out problems with our education system, but where are the substantive plans to address these problems? Since all the candidates seem so similar, how will the NEA know whom to endorse as the next President of the United States?

Analysis:

American lags behind such countries as Japan and Korea in its educational accomplishments. Why is this? Americans have tried to bring better qualified teachers into the classrooms, shrink classroom size, give more money to the schools, change textbooks, create more fieldtrips, build better school buildings, etc., etc. Where are the results? Perhaps the reason that our education system lags behind the education systems of other nations is because the battle to educate our children is only half fought in the classroom. Teachers must have the support and help of parents in order to effectively educate their students. Unless teacher-parent relationships improve, it is likely that Americans will continue to see our education system lag behind those of other nations.

http://www.nea.org/annualmeeting/raaction/07candidates.html

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