Obama vs. Clinton: Education

Well, Super-Tuesday did not resolve the Democratic nomination. Saturday is the Democratic caucuses here in Washington State, so I better bone up on my candidates quick.

First up, education. This isn’t a pushed issue by either candidate. Here’s Hillary Clinton’s education page, and here’s Barack Obama’s education page.

Despite being a liberal, I generally like the idea of charter schools, at least in a limited fashion. Neither addresses the issue. Tha’s too bad.

Standardized testing. It’s accept dogma in liberal circles that standardized testing should be limited. Obama subscribes to this view: Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. Clinton doesn’t say anything on the subject. Neither candidate gets good marks from me.

Recruiting teachers. One of the things I’ve seen in the one Seattle high school I’ve been too is that some of the teachers just seem to be filling space. The best and brightest are going to other fields. Obama wants to give some incentives to go into teaching. Not sure if those incentives will do much though, since they are limited to paying off school debts. Clinton’s approach is more vague, but something along the same lines. I don’t really see this approach as sufficient. Not sure what is though.

Both want to expand access to college, but again I don’t think the problem is there. I think the biggest problem is from middle school through high school.

One approach that I think has promise that hasn’t been tested out enough is simply paying students and families to get better grades. Kids don’t really have the best judgment comparing short term fun vs. long term advancement. School is a drag. I know it was for me. $100 for every A, $25 for every passed class, something like that. Give it directly to the students. Perhaps limit it to low-performing high schools. Sure, not fair to students in other high schools, but that gives them an incentive to move to those high schools. And I’m a believer that having a culture of success around you helps. Anyway, no points to either camp for not talking about this.

End result: a wash. Ah well.

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