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Those Who Would Be President Pontificate on Education

Susan Notes:

Okay, I admit that I started off writing an Eggplant piece on the presidential candidates' education hot air as a humor item, based on a very funny op-ed by Gail Collins at the New York Times. But I soon discovered that the statements by the Presidential aspirants are already so over the top that they defeat satire. I spent more time than I want to admit tracking down what people who want to be president say about education. The results are not pretty. But I assume they were very serious when they said them.

Education does not get much play in the debates. People who care about the issues should pay close attention to what the candidates are saying, even though they lie. I guess we the electorate choose which lies we want to believe.


1) Rudy Giuliani: whose education advisory board should give you pause . . . and nightmares

a) Give parents real choice. If we give the choice to parents, where they can choose a private school or parochial school or public school, a charter school, home schooling, let them be the decider, I think weâll see a big revolution in education.â

b) Establish federal school vouchers.

c) I love teachers. But I really care about the kids more.

d) The schools should be made into a mayoral agency--like the Fire Department--so the city can enact real solutions.

e) Privatize failing schools.

f) Education Advisory Board: Terry Moe, Rod Paige, Benno Schmidt, Clint Bolick, Herman Badillo, Tony Coles, Dr. Carol DâAmico, Allan Dobrin, Jim Horne, Brian Jones, Abe Lackman, Michael Podgursky, Gerald Reynolds, Sol Stern, Don Soifer, Dr. Martin West

2) Mike Huckabee: who is scarier than he might appear

a) I propose launching Weapons of Mass Instruction, making sure that we are launching not only the math and science, but music and art
programs that touch the right side of the brain.

b) Charter schools can bring innovative ideas to the marketplace with little long-term financial risk.

c) When schools fail, the state should terminate the superintendent, fire and replace the entire school board, and assume all operations of the failing school.

d) Reward teachers with merit pay.

e) Display the Ten Commandments in public schools.

f) Encourage a more open approach to the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution.

3) John McCain: who needs to be tested for competency

a) Choice & competition are the key to the future of education in America.

b) State and local education agencies should be responsible for developing & enforcing high academic standards.

c) I propose sending education funding directly to classrooms rather than having it siphoned off by federal and state bureaucracies.

d) I voted against sending $10.8 billion in corporate tax loopholes to schools because competition is the key to success.

e) We must teach virtue in all the schools. I voted yes for a $75 million abstinence program and on a bill that would cut off federal funds to school districts that deny students their constitutionally protected voluntary prayer.

f) Itâs important that we have merit pay for teachers, and test teachers periodically for competency

4) Mitt Romney: who needs immediate remediation

a) Protect school choice.

b) I want to evaluate our teachers and see which ones are the best and which ones are not.

c) I fought for the death penalty. I fought for abstinence education.

d) I supported No Child Left Behind. I still do.

e) As governor I have seen the impact that the federal government can have holding down the interest of the teachers' unions and instead putting the interests of the kids and the parents and the teachers first.

f) We need intensive remedial attention for under-performing teachers.

5) Fred Thompson: who doesn't need to be taken seriously since he doesn't really bother

a) Schools continue to fail our children and endanger America's future competitiveness.

b) Give parents choice.

c) I voted for NCLB but I made a mistake.

d) Free markets, in terms of competition, and the things that work in the rest of our society, vouchers, charter schools, things of that nature.

e) Support abstinence education.

f) Encourage students and teachers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math--fields that are crucial to our security, competitiveness, and prosperity.


1) Hillary Clinton: who's for a lot of things before sheâs against them

a) We need to train new parents.

b) Yes, I voted for NCLB but I had something else in mind.

c) Iâm tested every day.

d) Iâve been working on these issues for more than 35 years. . . Thatâs the work I did in Arkansas. . . and certainly in the White House.

e) The school is a team, and I think itâs important that we reward that collaboration.

f) You need to weed out the teachers not doing a good job. That's the bottom line. They should not be teaching our children.

2) John Edwards: who raises our hopes and then shoots us in the foot

a) Every classroom should be led by an excellent teacher.

b) Every teacher should work in an outstanding school.

c) How long is it going to take us to figure out you can't educate kids by testing them to death?

d) Create a National Teacher University, a West Point for Teachers.

e) We need to send what I call education swat teams into struggling schools.

f) We need to expand the criteria for evaluating the progress of the students, including evaluation of analytical and critical thinking skills.

3) Dennis Kucinich: who's not even listed on the Education Writers Association website, which shows you where THEIR heads are. Dennis gets no breaks in the press, who would rather focus on clowns and demagogues.

a) Cut the Pentagon budget by 15% and fund a universal pre-kindergarten program where children can go to school beginning at age 3.

b) I can move this country because I have no strings.

c) Yes, I voted for No Child Left Behind. It has not worked out the way that anyone thought it would.

d) End NCLB.

e) Vouchers divert public money away from the vast majority of public school students.

f) Stop funding war, start funding education.

4) Barack Obama: At least he HAS an education advisor, but that isn't enough.

a) Qualified teachers are the key to student success in the global economy. Donât let anyone teach who isnât highly qualified.

b) NCLB goals are the right ones.

c) We left the money behind for No Child Left Behind.

d) Ted, get some spine and stand up to the Republicans.

e) Teachers, I'm not going to do it to you, I'm going to do it with you.

f) Education advisor: Linda Darling-Hammond

5) Bill Richardson: who can be forgiven, perhaps, for an overwheening belief in computers

a) I have a one-point plan on No Child Left Behind: Scrap it.

b) I'd commit to extending the school day and/or the school year, and have 100,000 new science and math teachers.

c) Nobody asks how we pay for war; why do we ask on education?

d) Our high-school curriculums are not competitive.

e) As a governor I eliminated junk food in schools.

f) Every teacher in every discipline - math, languages, social studies, history - will be trained in how to make use of the computer and the internet directly in their subject areas.

— Susan Ohanian


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