Something I would be shot for if I posted on Dkoes….
I don’t like Obama, I admit it. Why? Because he has become everything to just about everybody which often means he really stands for nothing. Call me a cynic, call me jaded, call me bitter but his ability to sway people by saying basically nothing in his speeches is what concerns me.
I don’t go to rallies because I want to stay objective and I hate being in rooms with people who are so swept up by their emotions that they can be easily twisted for any goal. Is it nice to see that someone on our side has this ability? Sure. Does it mean that I expect him to actually fix anything major, no.
I read his speeches, I really do not like listening to him because as my mom says “It seems like he is beating me over the head and yelling at me.” To me, he sounds like a preacher, which I really don’t like. At any rate, I read his speeches and I am left with “Ok, and??” He takes 1000s of words to wind down to saying something specific, which is still couched and vague so he really commits to nothing. His speeches sound great, but his plans are nothing spectacular. For instance: Obama’ Education plan.
No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers.
Students Left Behind: Six million middle and high school students read significantly below their grade level. A full third of high school graduates do not immediately go on to college. American 15 year olds rank 28th out of 40 countries in mathematics and 19th out of 40 countries in science. Almost 30 percent of students in their first year of college are forced to take remedial science and math classes because they are not prepared.
High Dropout Rate: America has one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world. Only 70 percent of U.S. high school students graduate with a diploma. African American and Latino students are significantly less likely to graduate than white students.
Teacher Retention is a Problem: Thirty percent of new teachers leave within their first five years in the profession.
Soaring College Costs: College costs have grown nearly 40 percent in the past five years. The average graduate leaves college with over $19,000 in debt. And between 2001 and 2010, 2 million academically qualified students will not go to college because they cannot afford it. Finally, our complicated maze of tax credits and applications leaves too many students unaware of financial aid available to them.
Barack Obama’s Plan
Early Childhood Education
* Zero to Five Plan: Obama’s comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, Obama’s plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state “zero to five” efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
* Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
* Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
o Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will 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. Obama will also improve NCLB’s accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
o Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
o Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school – strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
o Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
o Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama’s “STEP UP” plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.
o Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
o Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America’s Teachers
o Recruit Teachers: Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
o Prepare Teachers: Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
o Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, Obama’s plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
o Reward Teachers: Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.
o Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.
o Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.
and my pick Edwards:
Offer Universal “Great Promise” Preschool to Four-Year-Olds
Edwards will provide resources to states to help them offer universal high-quality preschool programs for four-year-olds. Great Promise programs will:
* Teach academic skills: Preschool is much more than babysitting; it is a unique opportunity to teach children the skills they will need in school. Great Promise will help develop children’s language abilities and introduce them to early math, reading, and other academic concepts, as well as help develop their social and emotional skills.
* Start in needy communities: The federal commitment will begin in low-income neighborhoods where schools are struggling and expand to serve more communities over time.
* Be led by excellent teachers: Research shows that the most effective preschool teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Lead teachers in Great Promise will have four-year college degrees and be paid commensurately.
* Involve parents and their families: Research shows that preschool benefits children the most when their parents are involved. Parental involvement will be essential to Great Promise.
* Be voluntary and universally affordable: Participation would be fully voluntary for families. Tuition would be charged on a sliding scale based upon family income and waived for children from low-income families.
Create National Smart Start
North Carolina’s innovative Smart Start initiative promotes the healthy development of children under the age of five. It helps local partnerships make child care higher quality and more affordable, provides health services and supports families. Participating children show better cognitive and language skills and fewer behavioral problems. Edwards will help other states duplicate Smart Start programs, prioritizing children who are not served by other pre-K programs. Smart Start will:
* Offer integrated services for young children: By linking together health care, child care, education, and family support services for children under five, Smart Start addresses all aspects of young children’s development and helps them begin school healthy and ready to succeed.
* Perform health care outreach: Smart Start makes it easier for young children to get screening for health problems related to hearing, speech, vision, dental, and learning disabilities.
* Sponsor home visits to new families: Home visits improve prenatal health and the quality of caregiving after birth. Children receiving nurse visits are cognitively more advanced, have fewer behavioral problems, and are less likely to be abused or neglected. The Smart Start program will fund home visits by registered nurses to 50,000 low-income new parents. [AAP, 2004; RJWF, 2006; NFP, 2006]
An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom
Nothing is more important in a school than the relationship between a teacher and a child. In a single year, a good teacher can raise student achievement by a full grade level more than a less effective teacher. Yet students with the greatest needs are more likely to have less experienced and effective teachers. Poor urban and rural schools in particular struggle to attract and retain excellent teachers. While pay for CEOs and other highly paid workers skyrocketed in recent years, teachers earn a fraction of the salaries paid to other educated professionals.
John Edwards believes we need to invest more in training and paying our teachers to help every child learn at high levels. As president, he will:
Raise Pay by up to $15,000 More for Teachers in High-Poverty Schools
Two-thirds of states do not offer any incentives of any kind for teachers to work in high-poverty schools, and many veteran teachers choose to teach in other schools. Edwards will fundamentally change teachers’ incentives by helping states pay teachers in successful high-poverty schools as much as $15,000 more a year. The $15,000 raise includes:
* $5,000 for all teachers in successful high-poverty schools: High-poverty schools with high academic performance, good student behavior, and high parent satisfaction could give up to $5,000 in bonuses to each of their teachers, encouraging a schoolwide culture of success. Bonuses will grow over time to reward continuing success and give teachers an incentive to stay. Successful schools will open their doors to share their experiences with other schools.
* $5,000 for teachers with national certification for excellence in high-poverty schools: The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certifies excellent teachers, but few of these teachers teach in high-need schools. Teachers who have demonstrated high effectiveness in a national process, such as National Board certification, will be eligible for the higher pay.
* $5,000 for veteran teachers who serve as mentors in high-poverty schools: Giving veteran teachers the opportunity to mentor new teachers creates opportunities for career advancement for longtime successful teachers, while providing much-needed guidance to new teachers.
To address other recruitment hurdles, Edwards will help states and school districts improve working conditions and increase time for teacher collaboration and planning. He will also address barriers for teachers moving between states by encouraging reciprocal credentials and studying ways to make pension plans compatible. [NCTAF, 1996 and 2002; Sanders and Rivers, 1996; Jordan, Mednro, and Weerasinghe, 1997; Peske and Haycock, 2006; Rural School and Community Trust, 2006 and 2007; NY Times, 8/27/2007]
Create a National Teacher University
While there are some successful education schools, many future teachers graduate without the skills and knowledge they need. In one survey, more than 60 percent of graduates said their education school did not prepare them. Because having great teachers is a national priority, Edwards will create a national teachers’ university – a West Point for teachers – to recruit 1,000 top college students a year, train them to be excellent teachers, and encourage them to teach where they are needed most. The school will waive tuition for students who go on to teach in schools and subject areas facing shortages. It will also lead improvements at education schools nationwide by developing and sharing model curriculum and practices and serve as a forum to promote shared certification and licensing requirements across states. [Levine, 2006]
Help Teachers in Their Early Years
A third of all new teachers leave the profession within three years. Students in high-poverty and high-minority schools are twice as likely as other students to be taught by inexperienced teachers. Edwards will help states support teachers during their early years. He will encourage a transition year for rookie teachers with smaller class sizes, reduced teaching loads, and minimal extra duties. Resources will support structured mentoring programs pairing new teachers with successful veterans. Finally, he will support professional development based in actual classroom needs. [Ingersoll, 2003; Ed Trust, 2007; Levine, 2006; NCATF, 2006]
Reduce Class Sizes
Smaller classes help students learn more by allowing them to get more individualized attention from teachers. According to a Tennessee study, young students in small classes are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate on time, complete more advanced math and English courses, and receive honors. Poor and African-American students gain the most from smaller classes. Edwards will dedicate federal resources to reduce class sizes, particularly for young children who are learning below grade levels. [Krueger and Whitmore, 2001, 2002; Smith, Molnar, and Zahorik, 2003; U.S. Department of Education, 2000]
Train More Excellent Principals
Principals can have a large impact on student achievement by setting high expectations and recruiting and supporting teachers, but many districts face principal shortages and the turnover rate for principals in poor urban and rural districts is as high as 20 percent a year. Edwards will help train excellent principals for high-need schools. Programs could be operated by schools of education, school districts, business schools, or other non-profits with a proven track record like New Leaders for New Schools. Establishing programs to train 3,000 principals a year will meet the needs of most of the country’s high-need urban and rural schools. [Education Sector, 2007; Aspen Commission, 2007; Leithwood et al. 2004; Education Week, 9/12/2007]
Use Highly Qualified Teachers for Tutoring
No Child Left Behind requires schools that fail to make adequate progress for three years in a row to set aside up to 20 percent of their Title I funds to pay for “supplemental service” tutoring programs, often offered by private companies with unproven capabilities. Edwards will require that tutors be highly qualified teachers.
Making Every School an Outstanding School
Every child in America should have the chance to attend an outstanding public school that has high expectations for every child. Children need to master both basic skills in reading, writing and math and advanced thinking skills like creativity, analytic thinking and using technology. We cannot tolerate the benign neglect of our schools. No Child Left Behind has lost its way by imposing cheap standardized tests, narrowing the curriculum at the expense of science, history, and the arts and mandating unproven cookie-cutter reforms on schools. As a result, it has lost the support of teachers, principals, and parents, whose support is needed for any reform to succeed.
John Edwards believes that we need to overhaul No Child Left Behind to center our schools around children, not tests, and help struggling schools, not punish them. He will:
Overhaul No Child Left Behind
The law must be radically changed to live up to its goal of helping all children learn at high levels, accurately identifying struggling schools, and improving them. Its sole reliance on standardized, primarily multiple choice reading and math tests has led schools to narrow the curriculum. Its methodology for identifying failing school can be arbitrary and unfair. And it imposes mandatory, cookie-cutter reforms on these schools without any evidence they work. Edwards supports:
* Better tests:Rather than requiring students to take cheap standardized tests, Edwards believes that we must invest in the development of higher-quality assessments that measure higher-order thinking skills, including open-ended essays, oral examinations, and projects and experiments.
* Broader measures of school success: Edwards believes that the law should consider additional measures of academic performance. The law should also allow states to track the growth of students over time, rather than only counting the number of students who clear an arbitrary bar, and give more flexibility to small rural schools.
* More flexibility: Edwards will give states more flexibility by distinguishing between schools where many children are failing and those where a particular group is falling behind. He will also let states implement their own reforms in underperforming schools when there is good reason to believe that they will be at least equally effective.
Launch a “Great Schools” Initiative to Build and Expand 1,000 Successful Schools
Across America, there are public schools that are helping children from all backgrounds succeed, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, small schools, and other models. Edwards will help 250 schools a year expand or start new branches. Federal funds will support new buildings, excellent teachers, and other needs. Among the schools he will support are:
* Small schools: Small high schools create stronger communities, reducing adolescent anonymity and alienation and encouraging teachers to work together. At 47 new small high schools recently opened in New York City, graduation rates are substantially higher than the citywide average. Communities can establish multiple schools within an existing facility, build new schools, and reopen old facilities. [Aspen Institute, 2001; N.Y. Times, 6/30/2007]
* Early college high schools: High schools on college campuses let students earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree (or two years of transfer credit) in only five years. In North Carolina, Governor Mike Easley’s Learn and Earn initiative raises rigor and aspirations, reduces tuition costs, and relieves overcrowded college campuses. [American Institutes for Research and SRI International, 2007; Easley, 2007]
* Economically integrated schools: While income diversity is not a substitute for racial diversity, low-income students perform best when in middle-class schools where they are more likely to have experienced teachers and classmates with high aspirations. States can build magnet schools in low-income communities and create incentives for middle-class schools to enroll more low-income children. [Kahlenberg, 2007; Harris, 2006; NY Times, 7/15/05]
Create a School Success Fund to Turn Around Struggling Schools
Improving our worst schools is going to take more than federal mandates of unproven remedies; it will require a serious commitment of resources. A new School Success Fund will:
* Let experts design and implement reforms: Based on North Carolina’s successful reform, Edwards will ask teams of experienced educators to spend a year at struggling schools helping start reforms. These educators will tailor comprehensive solutions to each school, rather than adopting silver bullets or one-size-fits-all solutions.
* Provide resources to implement them: Some schools need more resources to help their children succeed. The School Success Fund will target resources to the neediest schools. Resources will be available to recruit new school leadership and a core of excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, duplicate proven models, strengthen the curriculum, and other reforms.
* Emphasize extra learning time: Due to our 180-day school year, American children spend much less time in class than their foreign competitors. Many other countries have 25 percent more instructional time, which adds up to more than two years by the end of high school. When combined with making better use of learning time and designed with educators, longer school days and years create new opportunities for children to master the basics and a broader curriculum. [ED in 08, 2007; Zimmerman, 1998; CAP, 2006]
* Establish stronger academic and career curricula: The rigor of high school classes is the number-one predictor of college success. Even students who do not go to college need strong math and reading skills in the workplace. Edwards believes that all schools xE2x80x93 even those in small, isolated, and high-poverty areas – should have access to challenging Advanced Placement courses. And he will support partnerships between high schools and community colleges to help high school students get the training they need for the good jobs where skilled workers are in short supply today. [US Department of Education, 1997; ACT, 2006; ED in 08, 2007]
More Resources for Poor and Rural Schools
Four out of five urban school districts studied nationally spend more on low-poverty schools than on high-poverty schools. Rural schools enroll 40 percent of American children – including most children in Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina – but receive only 22 percent of federal education funding. Edwards will increase federal Title I funding and dedicate the increases to low-income schools and districts and rewarding states that distribute funding where it is needed most to increase learning. He will also invest in distance education and cutting-edge software to bring the promise of new learning technologies to remote areas. [NASBE, 2003; Rural School and Community Trust, 2007; Digital Promise, 2003]
Meet the Promise of Special Education
More than thirty years ago, Congress committed to fund 40 percent of the excess cost of educating children with disabilities, but it provides less than half that amount. George Bush has proposed a $300 million cut. Edwards opposes the Bush cuts and supports getting on a path toward meeting the federal promise. [Committee for Education Funding, 2007]
Raise Graduation Rates
Almost a third of all students drop out of school before earning a high school diploma, and rates among children of color or from low-income families are higher. At nearly 2,000 high schools nationwide – called “dropout factories” – more than 40 percent of students won’t graduate. Edwards will create multiple paths to graduation such as Second Chance schools for former dropouts and smaller alternative schools for at-risk students. He will focus on identifying at-risk students and support the Striving Readers literacy program and one-on-one tutoring to keep them in school. Edwards will also fund additional guidance counselors in high-poverty schools. [Baron, 2005; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007; Balfranz and Legters, 2004; NCES, 2004]
Support High School Service Programs
The energy and enthusiasm of high school students who want to make their community and their country a better place to live. One type of service program, service-learning, has been shown to have positive impacts on students’ civic engagement, college enrollment, career development, and personal relationships. Nearly half of school-age children lack the activities and role models that are opportunities to make a difference through helping others. Edwards will create a Community Corps service programs for high school students. It will provide resources to high schools that choose to make community service a graduation requirement, helping them make service opportunities higher in quality and integrate them into the curriculum. [NYLC, 2006; America’s Promise Alliance, undated]
I am posting them in their entirety because I think it is important to see the differences.
Notice Edwards adds a lot more into his plan, more about smaller class sizes, more dollar amounts as to what the teachers could expect, more about rural education, a service corps for kids that will help them meet those extra requirements, more about helping teachers be able to switch between states etc.
When I read Obama’s plans, it’s like reading an outline that touches on the things that really upset people the most so he can make people think he will fix things. Edwards’ is like a finished product. I know Edwards is out of the race but sometimes I don’t understand people. Edwards also has a habit of telling you how he would pay for it. Obama’s plans are good, but he has a habit of making me wonder about how much he will actually fight for them. I can’t get out of my head that as much as he hated this war according to his all important one speech, he kept voting to fund it; which means he funded torture, he funded Blackwater, he funded Gitmo, he funded all the corruption and kickbacks. When this is told to his supporters, they say “Well we are already there, defunding would just hurt the troops.” Then they turn around and blame Edwards for co sponsoring the AUMF and overlook the fact that later Edwards voted to not give Bush a blank check. It really is “Obama can do no wrong.” At least I will admit Edwards was stupid with the AUMF. They won’t with Obama.
I know we are not really supposed to write candidate diaries but I saw the one about Obama in NOLA. Once again he is talking really well, but where has he been since Hurricane Katrina? Did he make it the centerpiece of his campaign? No. Did he go down or take people there to help rebuild? No. Was he out there protesting the treatment of NOLA after the hurricane happened? No. PRoviding any grand speeches or leadership? No. So what really is he offering us that we do not already get from the Dem leadership, pretty speeches, lots of promises but little or no actual results.