Among the hundreds of thousands crowding the National Mall on Monday for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, there will be 26 students from University City High School near St. Louis. The students won an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to witness history, and they'll be seated beside U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
By Ray Salazar, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Ray Salazar is a National Board Certified English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. He writes about education and Latino issues on the White Rhino Blog. Follow him on Twitter @whiterhinoray.
(CNN) - Finally, Republicans and Democrats know that they need more than mariachis playing behind them to win the Latino vote. By now, almost everyone heard about the Latino influence this presidential election.
The signs were everywhere. Maybe this is the 2012 cosmic event predicted by the Mayan calendar. Now, President Obama must recognize Latino views as he moves forward with economic recovery and immigration policy and farther with education reform.
None of the parties should have been surprised by the Latino vote. On October 7, CNN’s “Latino in America: Courting the Latino Vote” reported that more than 60,000 Latinos turn 18 each month across the country, and we care about more than immigration. When Latinos were given a choice between what’s more important, immigration or the economy, 74% chose the economy.
More notably, the Latino vote for Obama exceeded the national Latino average in some battleground states: 87% in Colorado, 80% in Nevada and 82% in Ohio.
These votes indicate that the conversations need to change. For too long, education reform remained a black and white issue, racially and politically. Our educational system as is does not work, especially not for Latinos. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the Latino dropout rate is almost double that of African-Americans and about three times higher than that of whites.
By Gene Carter, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Gene Carter is CEO and executive director of ASCD, an international education leadership association with 150,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, professors, and advocates — in more than 145 countries. A veteran educator with experience as a teacher, administrator, superintendent and university professor, Carter took over the helm of ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) in 1992.
As the 2012 presidential campaign builds to what appears to be an incredibly close finish, I am struck by the absence of education in the candidates’ ongoing dialogue. Job creation, health care, tax policy, and even Big Bird have been campaign issues, but to date, education policy has only lurked in the background.
Why is this? The results of the 2012 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools are instructive. According to the survey, 77% of respondents assigned the nation’s schools either a C grade or lower; yet the poll says we have confidence in public school teachers. Respondents believe that closing the achievement gap and improving urban schools is important, but they would rather balance the federal budget than improve education.
The U.S. voters’ paradoxical views on education make it a difficult issue for presidential candidates to address, and that may be a good thing. Education’s lack of prominence on the campaign trail might preserve it from becoming a wedge issue that further divides us.
By Jeanne Allen, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeanne Allen is the founder and president of The Center for Education Reform (CER). The center was founded in 1993 to bridge the gap between policy and practice and restore excellence to education.
Schools of Thought has published and will continue to publish other views on this topic in the days up to the election.
“We can fix our schools because we don't get the biggest share of our campaign donations from the teachers' unions.”
This short, simple statement from Gov. Mitt Romney in an October 24 speech in Nevada sums up the real distinction between education reformers and protectors of the status quo, and reveals why when it comes to education policy, Romney would be a superior president - because he promised to put children, parents and teachers first, and to “put the teachers' unions behind."
The day has passed when that could be considered a partisan statement. We’ve heard stronger words, for example, from many Democrats, from former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein (also of the Clinton administration) to former New York City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz (now of Success Charter Network) who pressed the unions to explain why their contracts were protecting mediocrity instead of boosting high-performing teachers. Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams helped then-Republican Gov. Tom Ridge push through a charter school law in 1997. And in 2010, Williams ran for governor on a platform of school choice. His core message was that parents and teachers should come ahead of unions. Sound familiar?
Education reform is not, by any stretch, a “Republican” issue. The national Democratic Party has always viewed the education establishment as its bedrock constituency – from unions to school districts. But it’s different at the state and local level, where Democrats often reject the status quo, joining in a diverse coalition of voices pressing for significant reforms at every level.
While individually most of those Democrats will vote with their party, they are nevertheless closer to Romney’s view of education than they are to Barack Obama’s. Many have confided to me that their hope is to change the Democratic Party’s culture from one that favors teachers unions to one that favors parents.
But we cannot wait another generation or more for that to happen. Our children only get one chance at a decent education, and the clock is ticking. As former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put it, “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.”
by Donna Krache, CNN
For civics teachers (and former civics teachers like me), the presidential election is our equivalent of the Olympics. We prepare for months and pour all our energy into teaching all about the electoral process, looking for ways to make it fun and interesting for students.
If you’re a teacher or a parent who is teaching your students about elections, there are free resources from CNN.com that can really help you bring your curriculum to life.
You can find all these resources at the CNN Election Center, but we’ll also highlight each one separately here:
Probably the most useful for teachers of civics/government, U.S. history and general social studies is the CNN Electoral Map Calculator. It shows CNN’s estimates of who will win which states, as well as states that may be leaning toward a candidate and battleground states. But you and your students can create your own picks and scenarios for this year's race, and you can use the pull-down menu on the right to look at the last two presidential contests. These are great ways to promote geography skills and basic math skills and illustrate to your students the strategy behind political campaigns.
How much time and money are the candidates spending in each state? Now that your students understand the importance of winning Electoral College votes, they can understand why voters in states like Ohio and Florida are seeing lots of political ads, compared to their fellow voters in many other states. Point students to the CNN Campaign Explorer to learn more about the concentration of ads, money and travel in each state.
Finally, if your class is focusing on the topic of public opinion, or if you are interested in helping students improve their skill at interpreting charts and graphs, go to the CNN Poll of Polls interactive. The CNN Poll of Polls is calculated by using three approved polls to arrive at the numbers you see on the charts on different dates. You can quiz students on candidates’ percentages on different dates in national polls as well as in battleground states, and you can ask them what factors might account for changes in the polling results.
Share these resources with your colleagues, and share any tips you have for teaching the election in the comments section below.
By Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) - The economy, health care and education aren’t just top issues for American voters. They’re also the concerns of those who’ll be voting for the first time in the next U.S. election, four years from now.
In a recent, nationwide survey by Junior Achievement, almost 73% of people between ages 14 and 17 said a top concern was jobs. Students are specifically worried that they’ll have trouble finding a job after finishing their education. (The current unemployment rate among Americans ages 16 to 19 is 23.7%.)
The economy as a whole was also cited among those surveyed, with 72% saying they were concerned about America’s fiscal health.
And not surprisingly, many teenagers have questions about their education. The cost of college, the quality of education, and the availability of scholarships were reasons why 64% said education was a concern.
Health care was cited by 32% of surveyed students, and the environment rounded out the top five concerns with over 18%.
Students were split over whom they’d vote for this time around. The Obama/Biden ticket got just over 38% support, while the Romney/Ryan ticket received about 37%. The margin of error was +/-3.6%.
Almost half of those surveyed said they didn’t think the candidates had good enough plans to help students land a job after wrapping up their education. And more than half - 56.6% - said the candidates were more concerned with winning the election than they were with listening to the American people.
That could contribute to another significant finding: About 14% of the teenagers surveyed said they wouldn’t vote in this election even if they were old enough.
You can see a graphic representation of the survey results on the Junior Achievement website.
By Diane Ravitch, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Diane Ravitch was assistant secretary of education in the administration of George H.W. Bush. She is a historian of education and is now a research professor at New York University. She is the author of several books on education, including her latest “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” She blogs daily at dianeravitch.net and can be followed on Twitter at @DianeRavitch.
Schools of Thought will be publishing other views on this topic in the days up to the election.
(CNN) - Over the past three years, I have been an outspoken critic of the education policies of the Obama administration. In my view, Race to the Top is a disastrous program that is almost indistinguishable from the Bush administration’s failed No Child Left Behind legislation. Both programs require teaching to the test, both encourage privatization of our public schools, and both have demoralized the nation’s educators while doing nothing to improve education.
But as bad as the Obama education policies are, they are tolerable in comparison to what Mitt Romney plans. Romney claims credit for the academic successes of Massachusetts, but he had nothing to do with the gains in that state, which were enacted 10 years before he became governor. The Massachusetts education reforms doubled the budget for public schools, increased spending on early childhood education, and raised standards for new teachers, but Romney intends to do none of that if elected President.
If elected president, Romney will curtail spending on everything except privatization of public education. He will lower standards for entering the teaching profession. His policies will devastate our public schools and dismantle the education profession. He supports charters and vouchers and welcomes the takeover of public schools by for-profit entrepreneurs. Unlike the Massachusetts reforms that he wrongly takes credit for, he offers not a single idea to improve public education. Romney nowhere acknowledges that free public education is a public responsibility and an essential institution in a democratic society.
Under a Romney administration, I fear not only for the future of public education but for the future of our society. Presently, nearly 25% of American children are growing up in poverty. We lead the advanced nations of the world in child poverty. Romney offers no proposals to reduce that scandalous number. Only government action can make a dent in a problem of that magnitude, but Romney believes in private charity, not government action.
by Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) Earlier this month, Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered his state of education speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., which was part self-review of his department’s goals and achievements and part campaign speech for his boss, President Obama.
But not all educators are ardent supporters of the president’s policies, and they are letting him know.
At about the same time Duncan was giving his speech, education historian and professor Diane Ravitch issued a call to teachers, administrators, parents and students to send letters to the president, expressing their sincere views on his education policies.
In her own draft of a letter to President Obama, Ravitch says, “Please, Mr. President, stop talking about rewarding and punishing teachers. Teachers are professionals, not toddlers.” She also asks the president to “stop encouraging the privatization of education” and to “speak out against the spread of for-profit schools.” She adds “Please withdraw your support from the failed effort to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students."
Teacher and education activist Anthony Cody volunteered to help gather the correspondence. In 2009, Cody led the “Teachers’ Letters to Obama” effort and collected about 100 letters. That campaign led to a meeting with Secretary Duncan but no change in education policies.
This month, educators and parents sent correspondence to The Campaign for Our Public Schools website. On October 18, Cody compiled nearly 400 letters, almost three-quarters of these from educators. They were printed, bound and sent to the White House last week. Cody told CNN that “the level of frustration now is even higher” among teachers than it was three years ago.
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) The votes are in – among kids – and Barack Obama has "won" a second term as president.
Every four years, Scholastic Classroom Magazines conducts its presidential mock election for students. The Scholastic Student Vote launched its first contest in the presidential election of 1940. The students have been wrong only twice: In 1948, they picked Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S Truman, and in 1960, they “elected” Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy.
The results of this year’s election: Barack Obama – 51%, Mitt Romney – 45%. “Other” candidates (who gathered 4%) included write-ins like John McCain, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton.
And, of course, write-ins included some votes for “my mom” and “my dad.”
by Lisa Sylvester, CNN
(CNN) This time of the year, even the youngest children know something is up. There's a running stream of political advertisements on television, mail flyers with smiling politicians asking for our vote and the ubiquitous bumper stickers on cars.
You can tell when children are getting their daily dose of politics the moment they start parroting back "I'm Barack Obama/Mitt Romney, and I approve this message."
But making sense of the electoral process can be overwhelming for children.
"One of the problems is civics is not taught adequately in schools. A Democratic system relies on an enlightened citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson said, to meet its goals," says Charles Quigley of the Center for Civic Education, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes civic education.
Schools used to spend more time teaching children about the political process in class. But national education reform's mandate for high-stakes testing has teachers and school administrators now placing more emphasis on math and language arts at the expense of political science, explains Quigley.
The 2010 Civics National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card, found the civics performance of twelfth-graders has been slipping. Only 64 percent of high school seniors were performing at or above basic level.
Achievement by U.S. 4th graders in civics was slightly better, with 77 percent at or above basic levels.FULL STORY