Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

How Barack Obama can get his momentum back: talk about education

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Originally published on on Mon, 08/18/2008 – 8:57am

I talked last week about the need for Barack Obama to gain the momentum back from John McCain. Obama has been on the defensive whereas McCain, who is on the wrong side on almost every issue, is on the offensive.

But that has also stemmed from a limit to the areas where the presidential discussion has gone so far. Iraq, Afghanistan, and the economy have dominated the discussion.

While we generally think Obama is on the right side of those issues, there will be some segments of the voting public that will disagree.

So a great way for Obama to regain focus is to introduce key topics that matter to Americans in a way that can get them on Obama’s side.

Today, we start the series by focusing on education.

For the last 8 years, the Bush education plan has been “No Child Left Behind.” It’s a clever slogan if you actually believe it’s true. But the education system has declined even worse under Bush, and it wasn’t that great to start with. Then there’s the escalating college tuition increases, and fewer ways to pay for school.

If McCain doesn’t understand the economy, he certainly knows even less about education. Yet we haven’t had a whole lot of discussion, not even during the Obama-Clinton primary battle.

We can generally agree that teaching to the test is a disastrous way to educate our children (no offense, Sen. Kennedy), but Obama needs to introduce what will come after NCLB. Honestly, the present school structure needs to be blown up in great part since the system hasn’t adapted from the time McCain went to elementary school: an agrarian-based calendar that doesn’t serve the gifted child nor the child who isn’t gifted, a system that places a great hold on a high school diploma when that diploma is no longer the only key to a union job and financial success.

It would be difficult for Obama or any other candidate to sell the idea of blowing up the school structure. But he needs to display a strong education package about what he wants to do with schools and learning. If you asked parents in the school system, even a bad system, they will likely tell you the U.S. education system is the best. Every impartial test says we aren’t even close to the top, we can’t even see the top 10 from where we are.

And selling improvements while showing off how bad we are won’t be easy — Americans don’t like to know we suck at doing something, even when it’s obvious.

If nothing else, having Obama introduce an education plan will force McCain to come up with something. Obama has a huge advantage in talking about education: he could be the first president with school-age children in the White House since Jimmy Carter (Amy) in the 1970s. Yes, McCain has grandchildren who are school age, but grandparents aren’t the same thing, and it can show how out of touch McCain is. After all, computers and the Internet are vital in school and learning, and McCain knows nothing about both.

That education needs to start with pre-K in a Head Start fashion. We haven’t heard as much about Head Start in the last 8 years, so Obama might start with refreshing memories over putting more money into current options. And every group from 4 to 22 and beyond needs to be part of the plan. It should be financially easier to get higher education. We should invest in technical schools if our students aren’t going off to college. Elementary, middle school, and high schools need to be a huge part of the package.

McCain won’t bring up education. The MSM is afraid to bring up anything that might make Republicans look bad, such as education. Obama is the only one who can bring the subject up for discussion.

Like the other parts of this series, waiting until September isn’t going to work. These areas need to be a part of the speeches in Denver. National security and the economy are important, but thanks to the damage of the last 8 years, there are plenty of areas that need our help. And Obama can gain momentum by bringing these topics to the surface.


Written by democracysoup

August 18, 2008 at 8:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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