The presidential debate and education: Same old, same old!
I watched the debate the other night, and I was depressed but not surprised by the discussion about education. Bob Schieffer got in the media's points about how much the U.S. spends on education and how terrible our test scores are, and of course, he phrased it all in crisis terms. Both candidates seemed to sadly nod their heads and look concerned.
I doubt that many viewers understood that the media and politicans have been referring to American education as being in crisis since the 1950s, and that the people who attended those schools continue to be the heart of what is considered the most productive workforce in the world. I doubt that many viewers realized that, as Jay Matthews pointed out, 70 percent of American public schools are actually quite good. Many parents and other viewers could probably figure out that in order to improve our test scores compared to other nations, we would have to put more emphasis on academics. They might not have thought about it enough, however, to realize that in order to do that we might have to de-emphasize high school football, basketball, hockey, etc., and their kids might not be able to have after school jobs. And there is no way that a politician running for office would tell them that.
Overall, I liked what Obama had to say about education more than McCain, especially about parents taking responsibility, but I don't think either candidate will make much of a difference to our schools. How many times and for how many years have I heard that we should recruit better teachers? I don't know for sure, but that sure wasn't the first time. I do have to agree with McCain, however, that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer. Oh, if you put the money in the right places, it might help somewhat, but it won't have us suddenly kicking the Korean's backsides on international math tests.
McCain is very big on vouchers, and I don't like that, but I have to admit that his position on them is more "honest" than Obama's. Both of the candidates are well-off financially, so both of them could afford to live in nice neighborhoods where the best public schools would be. Neither of them, however, thinks that those good public schools are good enough for their kids. I think they're wrong, but as I said, at least McCain is honest about it. When McCain says to Obama that more parents should have the opportunity to send kids away from the public school system that neither of them really believe in, it's tough for Obama to answer.
I'm not knocking private schools here, but it does bother me that so many liberals who pose as great supporters of public schools won't put their kids enrollment where their mouths are. To tell the truth, I don't think either McCain or Obama have a clue about what the real problems are in public schools.