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Discuss the US Presidential Election & Education 1515

In 24 hours, many of you will be able to vote. So as we come down to the wire, this is really our last chance to talk about the issues. We've already discussed Health Care, the War, and the Economy. Today I'm opening up the floor to discuss education. Perhaps no other issue will matter more in 50 years. Which candidate will make the next generation smarter?
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Discuss the US Presidential Election & Education

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  • Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:02AM (#25611229) Homepage Journal

    Nuff said. (These issues are a stimulus to trigger a voting response, and have NOTHING to do with policies that will exist post-election.)

    • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:15AM (#25611391) Journal

      If you don't vote:

      • Your opinion doesn't count.
      • you're not entitled to complain
      • you'll have several years to regret it

      So get off your lazy butts and vote! You are not too busy.

      • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cl0s ( 1322587 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:24AM (#25611511)
        What if you're complaining about the system as a whole? Voting would be quite hypocritical then. Unless your voting for a guy thats running on the basis of changing the system, but running within the system... I guess.
        • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Macgruder ( 127971 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nosmailliw.seidnahc.> on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#25611661)

          By being given the opportunity to vote, we're invited to participate in our electoral process.

          If you decline to vote, then you really have no recourse to complain about the results of that process, do you? You had your chance to be heard and decided you had other things to do.

          • Re:Vote (Score:4, Insightful)

            by robably ( 1044462 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:28AM (#25612525) Journal

            f you decline to vote, then you really have no recourse to complain about the results of that process

            Completely backwards. If you vote, you have no recourse to complain about the results of that process.

            Example: Two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. If the sheep votes, he is implicitly supporting that voting system and cannot complain when the carving knives come out. He had his democratic say, how can he complain about the outcome? The only option which makes sense, which lends any weight to his position, is to refuse to vote and so refuse to endorse the system.

            "Winner takes all" is not a just outcome. What is needed is a diplomatic process to reach mutual agreement, with concessions on all sides if necessary. Oh but that requires effort.

            Voting just legitimises a corrupt system.

            • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:50AM (#25612991) Journal

              If I'm a sheep, I'm arming myself with big guns. If I'm going to die for dinner, I'm taking someone with me.

              THAT's the reason for the 2nd amendment.

            • Re:Vote (Score:4, Informative)

              by Macgruder ( 127971 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nosmailliw.seidnahc.> on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:18PM (#25613541)

              No, you have it backwards. And reveal the downside of popular democracy. If everyone votes for their bests interests, not for the common good (however you choose to define it) then yeah, the morjority wants will be voted in everytime.

              That's why the US is democratic republic. The people don't vote on every issue. The people vote for other people to represent their desires on various issues.

              If you don't bother to vote for a representative, then what gives you the moral right to complain about the choices any of those representatives make?

            • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

              by circusboy ( 580130 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#25614103)

              living under that system legitimizes it.
              voting is merely the exercise of what little power you might posess with in it.

              if you live in this country, you legitimize this system of government. if you live in it and use the infrastructure, you legitimize it even more. if you accept what a traffic signal tells you what to do, you endorse the system. voting and being involved in the passage of laws is forming the system. if you do not take part, you are the sheep.

              what you describe towards the end there is supposed to be the outcome of people electing rational representatives and senators who will have that "diplomatic process" on your behalf. i.e you are supposed to elect people who are good at distilling the needs wants of their constituency rather than electing an ideological tool. because so-called rational people, like you seem to claim to be, absolve themselves of responsibility for making any "effort" ideological tools, who only believe in the winner take all mentality, get elected.

              your argument just makes me ill, and the analogy would only be valid if all three are sheep, or all three are wolves. as presented, you are anthropomorphizing two different animals with different needs. (even then, the sheep was out voted. the system would only really be broken in your example if there two sheep, one wolf, and the sheep still end up getting eaten. in your case, the sheep is going to get eaten regardless. so whether or not the sheep votes is completely immaterial. national politics is not that simple.)

        • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:45AM (#25611833)

          If you want to change the system, vote for anyone except a Democrat or Republican. Any time another party looks like it might be competitive it will scare both parties into better behavior.

          • Re:Vote (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Gotung ( 571984 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @01:37PM (#25615017)
            The problem with 3rd parties is that they all seem to do the same thing when they get to the verge of relevancy:

            They blow their wad (both financially and enthusiasm wise) on a hopeless bid for the highest office.

            This country would probably be a lot better off today if both Nader and Perot had gone for Senate seats instead (not an endorsement of either of their policies, just rooting for strong alternate parties). Then they each would have had strong voices within the system, and could have leveraged their seats to continue to build up awareness and support for their parties.

            Instead they spent a whole bunch of money on failed presidential campaigns, enthusiasm faded and now they and the people that supported them are in the same position they started in, on the outside looking in.
      • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fprintf ( 82740 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:31AM (#25611599) Journal

        No, if I don't vote it will make no difference whatsoever. I live in a state that will definitely go Democratic. Unlike 2 years ago, there is no one running for office that is contested. Given our electoral system, my vote cannot do anything other than possibly give an independent candidate enough votes to receive election funding and a place on the ballot next time. Unfortunately this time, there is no Ross Perot to get my vote.

        I will vote, as my civic obligation. But if I chose to not vote, please do not assume it is because I am too lazy to do so. It has nothing to do with it, and none of your points make any sense to me.

        1. My opinion really doesn't count anyway, my vote can't help anyone get elected unless I change residence to a more independent state.
        2. The two party system gives me every right to complain
        3. Every time I vote for a candidate I regret it anyway, cause all we get is more of the same - bigger government, more taxes & more intrusion. Ross Perot got my vote twice and I have regretted he didn't win each time. I can't remember the name of the independent candidates the last two times, and regrettably we ended up with W.

        • Re:Vote (Score:5, Informative)

          by pmbasehore ( 1198857 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:23AM (#25612427)
          Actually, there are four "Ross Perot" (read: 3rd party) candidates in this election:

          Bob Barr / Wayne Root: Libertarian Party
          Charles Baldwin / Darrell Castle: / Alaskan Independance Party, Reform Party
          Cynthia McKinney / Rosa Clemente: Independent, Green Party
          Ralph Nader / Matt Gonzalez: No Party Affiliation

          You can check the facts yourself at []
      • by Morris Thorpe ( 762715 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:31AM (#25611603)

        Silly me. I thought the First Amendment allowed me to bitch until my heart is content.

        I'm tired of hearing that I can't complain if I don't vote. Who made up this mantra? The people who want you to vote for them.
        And the masses have bought it. They think they really have a say in what happens in government. Ha!

        By choosing not to vote I *am* making my statement: I don't like the candidates or the system.

        Enough with Groupthink.

      • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#25611667) Journal
        If you do vote
        • Your opinion barely counts.
        • If your guy wins, you're not entitled to complain because you voted for him
        • If your guy loses, you're not entitled to complain because you accepted the results of the democratic system by voting
        • You'll have several years to regret it

        So vote if you'd like, but don't fool yourself into thinking you're morally superior because you did, or that you really had an effect. In Wyoming, your vote is about 1 in 150,000 of a share in electing 3 electors, who are a 3 in 538 share of electing the president. And that's the best you can do. Every other state is worse.

      • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fracai ( 796392 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:36AM (#25611677)

        Your opinion doesn't count.

        So vote, it doesn't matter who or why, just go to the polls so you get a sticker which gives your uninformed opinion the weight it didn't have before.

        you're not entitled to complain

        See above.

        you'll have several years to regret it

        But who cares? You voted, you're free to complain.

        Vote if you actually agree with one of the candidates.
        Voting for the "lesser of 2 evils" is still voting for evil.
        Voting outside of the 2 main parties isn't throwing your vote away.
        If you do go to the polls and don't know anything about any of the presidential / local candidates, don't vote for that position.
        If you do go to the polls and don't know anything about the state and local measures, don't vote for that question.

        Casting an uninformed vote is worse than being informed and making the decision not to vote. At least the non-voter didn't waste any time at the polls casting votes they didn't truly believe in. And the uninformed voter truly wasted their vote.

        There's still time to actually read up on the candidates and their positions.
        Look at the state and local level as well.
        Find a copy of your local ballot and at least read the questions you'll be voting on. Research them further, they're rarely written clear enough to be informed solely on the 1 or 2 sentence description.

        • Re:Vote (Score:5, Funny)

          by Stile 65 ( 722451 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:44AM (#25611799) Homepage Journal

          Voting for the "lesser of 2 evils" is still voting for evil.

          Vote for Cthulhu! [] Why settle for a lesser evil?

        • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:26AM (#25612477)
          Seriously, an uninformed voter is FAR worse than a non-voter. I am becoming convinced that the whole "everyone should vote even if they don't know what they are voting for" combined with "voting third party is throwing your vote away" is a way to keep out third parties. People are becoming more and more disillusioned with the two party system. The chances of a third party making a real go of it becomes more and more feasible. So, what do you do? you work to get everyone out to vote. The uniformed voter is going to randomly pick from the two primary candidates, as he doesn't know anything about any of them, but those are the two that are not "throwing away his vote". Since the uninformed votes, being random, will for the most part split evenly down the middle between the Democrats and the Republicans, it becomes a wash for them, but massively increases the number of informed voters that the third party candidates have to pick up.

          So, IF you must be an uniformed voter, and are going to vote. Vote third party. Since you don't know who you are voting for anyways, you were already going to throw your vote away. Since there is not yet a chance for the third party candidates to win, you do not run the risk of accidentally electing a kook, AND you help to put a scare into the two primary parties.

          Heck, if you were not going to vote because you don't like either candidate, vote third party for the same reason.
      • Re:Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:18AM (#25612347)

        Let's say I go to a restaurant, the only place to eat in town, and there are two dishes on offer. One is a rotten fish, full of maggots. The other is a burger made from cow shit. If I walk out, do I not have the right to complain about being hungry?

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:03AM (#25611239) Homepage
    If I had to make on comment on the presidency and eduction, it would be that education has to be reformed from the bottom up, not from the top down. It's the parents, and the teachers, that are important here-- not the president.

    The federal government really isn't the appropriate place to deal with any kind of primary educational policy.

    • The federal government really isn't the appropriate place to deal with any kind of primary educational policy.

      It's called investing in our workforce to remain competitive in a global economy. I realize long-term planning isn't the Republican's forte; sorry we see things differently.

      • by kingramon0 ( 411815 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:29AM (#25611569) Homepage

        It is not the government's job to plan things for us. It is hilariously bad at it, anyway. It is the government's job to protect our liberties so we can do things ourselves.

        We are perfectly capable of organizing our own local educational systems. Some of them won't be as good as others, but they can learn from the ones that are successful.

        Having the government plan it, and run it, will just guarantee that the quality continues to degrade universally.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hansamurai ( 907719 )

        You really think the federal government should be involved in the education of our children? There are over 13,000 school districts in the United States, each and every one of them with their own distinct needs and situations. What possible help could the federal government provide for them? The local government knows what is best for its students and should be the sole decision maker for them too. Interference from the federal (and even state) will just gets in the way because they're making decisions

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:26AM (#25611531) Journal
      Uneducated parents are hard to persuade of the value of education. Indoctrinated parents are even harder. Here in the UK, parents are allowed to have their children excluded from religious education classes in case they encounter something that contradicts their home indoctrination. Apparently children who have done comparative study of half a dozen religions are harder to convince that mummy and daddy's religion is the One True Path(tm). Unfortunately, parenthood is an institution with very low barriers to entry.
  • McCain... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Notquitecajun ( 1073646 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:07AM (#25611287)
    MAYBE Obama will get rid of NCLB, but I don't see him getting away from the typical left position of supporting the teachers' unions goals and just throwing money at education without real standards. We spend more money - under left and right administrations - per student and don't see the results, which means the overall system is broken.

    I don't see him actively supporting homeschooling as well, and we know he's going to be against vouchers.

    The biggest problem, however, will NEVER be government involvement. I don't care who is in power, but the ONLY real influence on children's education is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. It doesn't matter what teachers, principals, politicians, and everyone else does if a parent doesn't care about how well their kid is doing in school - it's nearly too great a hurdle to overcome.

    I think that the only thing that I have ever seen that may do something is a performance-based state-sponsored tuition program (like Louisiana TOPS or Georgia HOPE) which is directly tied to secondary school performance with college tuition on the line - there are a LOT of parents in those states that I know of who pushed their kids to get good grades simply because there was a near-free college tuition at stake (it's what paid for my own tuition at Louisiana Tech).
    • Re:McCain... (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:14AM (#25611389) Journal

      MAYBE Obama will get rid of NCLB, but I don't see him getting away from the typical left position of supporting the teachers' unions goals and just throwing money at education without real standards.

      He plans on reforming it, not eliminating it. From his site []:

      Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

      What I emphasized does seem to align with your assessment of throwing money at the problem. Those are the best details I can come up with so don't ask me how he plans to improve accountability ... I wish he had thrown out some metrics or requirements that he was aiming for. But if he did that, we might be able to hold him to it!

    • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:17AM (#25611431) Journal

      Tell me, how do you "grade" teachers? Why can't you simply go to your PTA meetings and your teacher in service meetings and be a responsible parent and know what your children are doing?

      The reason i don't want teacher "appraisals" outside of what a school district does in and of itself is because some people would rate teachers poorly because they're not christian enough, not moral enough or not forcing "family values" enough or other non public educational focused education based issues.

      Start by giving teachers livable wages, start by funding real programs that put books, science and math into students hands. Start challenging and teaching kids AT school. Get away from homework, let kids live a life after school and make school about learning.

      BTW, if the middle class is doing better, so will the schools. Fix it from the bottom up, not top down.


      • In most districts they don't even have to work a full day, and they get about 3-4 months off. I knew a math teacher in high school who taught 3 classes and 1 study hall. What she did was she graded all of her work during down time in class and study hall, and worked a second job when she felt like it. She was single and had plenty of time to use a second job to flesh out her work schedule for the entire year, and consequently, she made a pretty penny. Most of her peers were simply too lazy to follow her exa

        • by Glothar ( 53068 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:16PM (#25613491)

          (Note my restraint)

          In most districts, schools have a mandatory 165-180 day school year. With holidays and spring break, this makes for a school year of at least 9 months and often closer to 10. I know of no teacher that gets 4 months off for summer vacation. I have to believe you're just totally lying. Add to this, the fact that most teachers require a couple weeks to prepare for the start of the school year.

          However, that doesn't really count here, since in most cases they're not paid for it.

          I also knew a teacher who taught three classes and a study hall. He was getting paid $18K a year. Most teachers have a mandatory 7 hour work day with a 30 minute lunch. However, its common for teachers to spend 2-4 hours of time after the end of the school day preparing for the next.

          I know a few teachers who'd love to show you where to put your head for implying that they were too lazy to try and get a second job to fill out those last four hours of spare time they have a day.

          I suspect the real problem here is that you simply don't have a clue what you're talking about. You cherry picked an example which made you bitter and never used another neuron to think about it.

      • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:48AM (#25612949) Homepage Journal

        I'd vote for your platform.

        I'll add this bit.

        Retrain retired professionals to be teachers. They are going to need to re-fund their retirement anyways after this economic dump.

        Provide college grad students with opportunities to be teaching aids in local elementary schools, taking some of the stress off the teachers. All they have to do is show up and be decent human beings. They can get work credits towards tuition. I say grad students because they are more likely to have gone past the stage where they need to party every night.

  • Intelligent Design (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:08AM (#25611293)

    ... belongs in the philosophy class, not science. Science is a set of facts seeking a conclusion to support them- Intelligent Design is a conclusion seeing a set of facts to support it.

    In a philosophy or comparative religions class? Absolutely- go nuts! Be sure to include a whole bunch of other religious theory, including Hindu creation myths etc. Would be a fun class.

    But as science? ... Do not want.

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#25611673) Journal
      Creationism is fine in a well-taught science class. It was taught in my biology classes in the early '90s. First, it was proposed, then it was contrasted with scientific theories and the differences (predictions, useful results, and so on) were pointed out. There are various forms of creationism. We looked at one of the pre-Darwin forms that actually did make a prediction - that species were stable and unchanging - and then we looked at the counter-evidence and saw that it was a bad hypothesis. Creationism has a role in biology classes in the same way that alchemy has a role in chemistry classes. It shows the shortcomings of work that occurred before the development of the scientific method. It helps motivate the subject and helps provide a background for real scientific theories.
      • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#25612001) Journal

        Yes, teaching creationism to biologists and alchemy to chemists can be very useful for helping them understand the society and the role of evidence in science, but teachers and students have limited time and this time has to be invested in the most rewarding activity, and I wonder whether teaching creationism or alchemy is more rewarding than teaching more advanced biology or chemistry. Perhaps a short introduction is ok, but too much time spent on it would be counterproductive?

  • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:10AM (#25611329) Journal
    If you are concerned about the education in the United States, voice your concerns to your state and local government. The only thing the federal government has authority over concerning education is the ability to tax you and decide how it will spend that tax money. Looking to solve education issues at the federal level is a farce.
  • Do Over? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:12AM (#25611351) Homepage Journal

    Can we vote for a do over all the choices suck?

  • Smarter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:13AM (#25611359)

    Neither candidate will make the next generation smarter. Either one might put policies in place to help the next generation get education, but ultimately learning happens inside the heads of the students.

    That said, Obama looks a lot more tuned-in when it comes to educational issues. His keynote address to the American Library Association's conference [] in Chicago (2005) pretty clearly demonstrates his commitment to education, particularly literacy programs and such.

    Whereas McCain is, well, not. Remember that McCain proposed a governmental spending freeze as a remedy for the fiscal crisis? With a few exceptions, such as Defense. Well, education was not on the list of exceptions.

  • Err.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:14AM (#25611385)
    Why should the president, or the government, have a role in "making everyone smarter"? I also don't see how people can be "made smarter" when they are spoon-fed a pre-packaged education and are not driven to learn on their own - something they would be more motivated to do if we moved away from our current nanny-state that lets us get by without being informed about the choices we make.
  • by m4cph1sto ( 1110711 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:15AM (#25611401)

    Why can't McCain properly defend his education policy? It is the most important issue facing our nation, and it is where McCain is leaps and bounds ahead of Obama!

    We have the best private education system in the world. We have the best college education system in the world, both public and private. We have one of the worst public school systems in the developed world. Why? What's the difference between our tremendously successful college system and private system, and our horrendous public school system? Guess what, it's NOT MONEY. Per-student spending in public schools is almost DOUBLE what it is in private schools! Surprised? You certainly didn't hear that in tonight's debate. Only the absolute top most elite private schools cost more per student than we spend on our public schools, and the difference is not much, just 10-20% more. And students at those elite schools get WAY more in return for that extra 10-20%. Oh, and public school teachers earn more than private school teachers, so that's not it either.

    So what's the difference between how our public, government-run schools operate, and how our colleges and private schools operate? Here are the differences:

    1. No teachers unions in private schools and colleges.

    2. School choice: private schools and colleges must compete for your dollars. Public schools don't; the government decides which school you must attend, based on what neighborhood you live in.

    Let's go into #1.

    The teachers union is the most dangerous organization on the planet. They are more of a threat to our nation than Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea combined. They are ruining the education of our children and destroying our only hope of maintaining our prosperity and peace.

    The teachers union has made it impossible to fire teachers for poor performance. To be fired, a teacher basically has to break the law or molest a student. They can't be fired for simply being a terrible teacher. It's gotten so bad that at public schools across the country, bad teachers are paid full-time salaries to simply sit in the teachers' lounge all day and not teach! Schools are forced to do this because they don't want these bad teachers anywhere near their students, but they haven't done anything that the union says they can be fired for.

    In private schools and colleges, teacher pay is based on performance. In public schools, because of teachers union demands, pay is based on seniority (i.e. how long they've been working there). You can't pay good teachers more and bad teachers less, and therefore you can't attract and reward the best teaching talent. Public teachers as a whole lose the motivation that drives the private sector to work harder and better: more money.

    Finally, the teachers union is 100% opposed to school choice. Why? Because it would force all public teachers to work harder and compete for their job, just like everyone does in every job in the private sector.

    And this leads directly into Point #2.

    It is school choice, in the form of vouchers, that will save our public education system. The way our system works now, schools tell the government how many students they have each year, and the government funds them with X amount of dollars per student. The way school choice will work is this: instead of the government giving those dollars to the school, that money will be given directly to the parents in the form of a voucher. The parents can then take that voucher and use it to send their kids to any school they want, public or private.

    What affect will this have? Competition. The same thing that makes our private schools and colleges perform so well. They'll have to wise up, stop wasting money, become more efficient, and start teaching better, or else they'll start losing students. Parents will choose to send their kids to better-performing schools.

    Cue the teachers union yelling "But you'll be taking money away from already struggling schools!". Of course, that's the point, and that's a good thing - because the struggling schoo

    • by SlamMan ( 221834 ) <squigit AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:45AM (#25611823)
      I think you're missing the corollary of #2. You also have to compete to stay in private school. If you screw up to badly, don't show up, or don't perform, the private school can get rid of you. Public schools really don't have that as an option, so disruptive, lazy, and sometimes dangerous students stay in the schools, in the classrooms with everyone else. Private school can just kick them back to the public school. You also need to have a certain degree of perental involvement to even be at a private school to begin with, as oppsed to public schools being a free baby sitting option for some parents.
    • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:00PM (#25613199)

      The teachers union is the most dangerous organization on the planet. They are more of a threat to our nation than Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea combined. They are ruining the education of our children and destroying our only hope of maintaining our prosperity and peace.

      Talk about hyperbole.

      The teachers union has made it impossible to fire teachers for poor performance. To be fired, a teacher basically has to break the law or molest a student. They can't be fired for simply being a terrible teacher. It's gotten so bad that at public schools across the country, bad teachers are paid full-time salaries to simply sit in the teachers' lounge all day and not teach! Schools are forced to do this because they don't want these bad teachers anywhere near their students, but they haven't done anything that the union says they can be fired for.

      That is a rather large generalization. Not all districts are the same. In some districts, a teacher can be fired for any reason. One of the problems is that there are not enough teachers. If someone is performing poorly, you can't just fire them because there is no one to replace them. Why? Because no one will take the job for the pay. I've personally known many individuals who love children and love to teach. Financially they could not afford to live on a public teacher's salary and had to pursue other employment. That is everyone's loss and that really is the root cause of the problem.

      It is school choice, in the form of vouchers, that will save our public education system.

      If we have learned anything in history, it is that many complex problems like education are not easily solved by a panacea. School vouchers is just one thing we can do. But they won't solve the problem if you don't actually address root cause of the problem. Eight years ago, the solution was standardized testing. Then Governor George Bush said "Look what it has done for Texas." Having lived in Texas, I can say that solution has done more to harm education than help it. When they tied school funding to standardized testing, it had the opposite effect of raising the standard of education. Given limited resources and funding, schools have started teaching the test as opposed to general education.

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:17AM (#25611435) Homepage

    In terms of education here we have

    1) Obama - raised by a single mother to a kenyan father who buggered off, progressed through school and demonstrating ability and prowess at all stages before coming top in Harvard Law.

    2) McCain - Rich family with a history in the services, graduated near the bottom of his class, married a richer woman on the second try. Paired up with Palin who things that education is elitist.

    Seriously when it comes to education shouldn't we be teaching kids than anyone can become the leader of the country if they work hard and are smart enough not just that you have the right set of bigotry and name-calling to get yourself elected?

    Given that in the US education is a State (or lower) level then this isn't a big area for impact at the Federal level, but the best thing the US President could do for the children of the country is demonstrate the value of a good education.

    Only Obama does that.

  • by TheRon6 ( 929989 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:18AM (#25611439)

    If I learned anything in high school, it's that in this country "education" no longer means the process of learning. Instead, school has become a daycare for parents to send their kids to until their old enough to move out. I may not be in the majority but I learned very little from actual classes and tests. I received my own computer at the age of 15 and taught myself about hardware and how to program, neither of which my school offered any classes about beyond keyboarding. Now I'm 24 and a senior systems administrator for a large dedicated server management company... thanks to our country's educational system? I think not.

    Parents aren't going to give up their free daycare so if I support any educational plan, it's going to be one that involves getting kids who want to learn out of the classroom and into environments where they can use their time more productively.

  • by zach_the_lizard ( 1317619 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:26AM (#25611529)
    Tomorrow we go to the polls to elect the next failed administration, and the next failed Congress.

    Regardless of who is elected, I feel that both candidates have the wrong attitude towards government. I feel that the role of government is simply to protect our lives and our property from one another. Both candidates espouse statist ideals that want to take away from our self governance or continue policies that take away our power.

    Both throw out petty scraps of meat to the people to get them to vote for their demise. This year, they throw the meager pickings of tax cuts. Perhaps four years from now it will be the threat of terrorists again, or perhaps health care.

    Both voted for a plan to give hundreds of billions of dollars to failed banks that gave loans to people who deserved none. Let them fail. The consequences of propping up zombie banks are greater than of letting them fail and having the market adjust.

    Tomorrow I go to the polls to vote Libertarian, to fight the establishment.
  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:28AM (#25611555)

    Promises about improvement in education by federal politicians are pure pandering.
    See this chart [].

    See how small a percent of education is actually funded by the federal government. It should be obvious that even significant changes to federal spending will have an insignificant effect. They spend in a whole year what they spend in Iraq in less than 3 months.


  • by glenfahan ( 827839 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:29AM (#25611571) Homepage
    I joined the military to pay my way through college. My family always stressed the importance of education. After spending all that time getting a bachelor's in IT, I'm worse off than my uneducated parents. I frequently think I would have been much better off being a plumber or an electrician. At least those jobs require a license, some skill and can't be sent overseas. (i.e. manufacturing and IT) What good is an education if no one will pay you to use it?
  • If you feel that scientific research funding is important to education (or anything at all, for that matter), then you should be concerned about the Science Budget Freezes Proposed by John Sidney McCain III [].
  • Really? Education? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:41AM (#25611749) Homepage

    Over the last 30 years I've watched well-funded lobby groups essentially take over the entire political process. Since these groups are generally better funded when connected to commercial interests, the political process has once again become beholden to big industrial concerns (it was even more so 100 years ago). It's not that lobby groups are bad, pre se, its that they are, by definition, lopsided; they present a single view of the world that may or may no be countered by the "other side" of the issue. As elections become more and more expensive, this process has accelerated to its own quasi-democratic existence.

    Obama managed to use Dean's model to rally the individual for his funding. He's still beholden to large groups, but so much less so than any presidential candidate over the last decade or so. This is a wonderful opportunity to mute down the influence of lobby groups, because he won't be committing political suicide by doing so.

    And no-one's talking about it. It's completely off the radar.


  • by starglider29a ( 719559 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @10:46AM (#25611843)

    The Constitution has been trodden upon these last 8 years (and more). Here is just one citation, for those who need one. []

    Has ANY of the candidates described the steps they would take to roll us back from the Constitutional abyss?

    The inference has been that the current administration has been abusing its power in this area. It strikes me as "illogical" that they would take such steps toward setting up a surveillance society, only to hand the keys to the Bastille to "another" administration.

    Help me understand.

  • by dlevitan ( 132062 ) on Monday November 03, 2008 @03:15PM (#25616705)

    I'm personally a libertarian, but one of the few things I think the government should be spending money on is education and scientific research. Education is an investment in the future. If we raise the level of education in this country, encourage students to like learning, and really progress we will remain a superpower, if only because we will dominate technology and science in the world.

    We need to pay teachers a competitive wage to get the really bright people interested in being teachers. And we need to give them the resources to really inspire the next generation. A good teacher can make the difference in someone's life. We also need to fund programs to give smarter children access to the resources they need to jump to the next level, not just keep them with the average person. And we need to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator - the slowest person in a class should not be dragging everyone else down.

    For college, we should be paying students who do well and who aren't going into high paying careers like Wall Street or lawyers. If you offer someone the ability to go to the top private schools for free if they later become a teacher or scientist a lot more people will do that. Higher up, we should be paying more money to graduate students, postdocs, and scientists. Only the most dedicated stay in the field when you get paid so little (disclaimer: I am a graduate student in astrophysics right now, and I've seen plenty of people leave for higher paying jobs in other fields after finishing).

    And instead of welfare, we should be getting people educated so that they can work in a more demanding job. I would much rather pay $50,000 for someone to get a college degree and then start working at a good wage then pay someone $20,000 as welfare.

    How can I justify this based on my libertarian leanings? Because it's an investment. If the government funds someone's education and it costs $100,000, but then that person is able to make $150k/year instead of $50k, the government will get it's money back in a matter of years. Hopefully there will be fewer criminals because more people will be interested in working instead of doing nothing. Obviously money won't solve everything, but it will be a good start and personally I would much rather see the money currently being spent on social programs invested in the future, not in the present.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer