Hillary Clinton, A Credible Choice
Hillary Clinton, has earned the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The one time staff lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund definitely has experience on her side as she led a task force to improve education in the state of Arkansas as first lady in the state while husband Bill Clinton served as Governor.The folks at AFT cast their support citing Clinton’s “proven ability to advance our nation’s key priorities, and her bold plans for a stronger America.” We were genuinely surprised given that Clinton voted for the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 and has since pledged to “reform” the law that she has not yet offered any detailed reauthorization plan.
We do agree with two aspects of her education platform. At the pre-K level, Clinton seeks to expand programming for every four-year-old. Definitely a good initiative. And in regards to higher education, she favors a significant expansion of the college tuition tax credit from the current level of $1650 to $3500. This represents a great step for those middle class parents who are funding their children’s college education.
Barack Obama, Agent of Change
But in Barack Obama, the U.S. senator from Illinois, we see a man with a vision. A firm critic of the No Child Left Behind law, Obama seeks to make the teaching of science a “national priority” yet also casts support for music, and the arts, two subjects taking an enormous hit under NCLB.
We greatly favor Obama’s view that it is time to address the issue of teacher pay. His plan regarding monetary incentives for the teacher shortage areas of math and science is long overdue. And his understanding that the nation needs high caliber teachers has led to his promise to recruit new teachers by paying the college costs of college graduates who promise to teach.
His strong support for early childhood education leads him to push for greater federal involvement in education at the earliest ages possible. The Senator also recognizes that an early-learning council is needed to ensure the coordination of early-childhood programs at the federal, state, and local levels.
But as we noted earlier, the real area that sets Obama apart is his desire to create 20 “innovation districts” nationwide. His concept would be to provide school districts extra federal funds based on the implementation of systemic changes aimed at boosting achievement.
At OpenEducation, we believe this innovative concept is analogous to a research and development type of approach to education. It is time that education join the world of business where research and development become a critical component of the educational landscape. The fact that Obama seeks to have home districts develop proposals in consultation with their local teachers’ unions demonstrates that he understands the importance of engaging the teacher’s union in this process.
Clinton Is Status Quo, Obama Is A Step Forward
Based on what we see, Ms. Clinton is the candidate for the status quo, one who might tweak the system yet has little to offer that would truly set a new path. Obama on the other hand, as he has campaigned, would indeed be the candidate of change, one who would seek to foster a new direction for education in America.
From the very first time we heard Obama speak, the night that he delivered his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, we have been intrigued by the man who invites comparisons to Martin Luther King. Given that education could benefit immensely from his campaign mantra, his “fierce urgency of now,” we cast our support for the person we believe should be the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.
Listen to Barack Obama as he talks about education, our kids, and the responsibility that all of us face: