Last night Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama won the presidential election to become 44th president of the United States. During the campaign, Obama made early education a cornerstone of his education policy agenda, and even highlighted early education as an important investment in our country's economic future. Let's take a closer look at the early education proposals Obama put forward during the campaign.
Obama has proposed $10 billion in new federal spending to support a comprehensive "Zero to Five" early education plan, which would include support for pregnant women and families with young children, quality improvements in child care for infants and toddlers, support for states to expand high-quality pre-k, and other services for children from birth through age five. The centerpiece of this agenda would be a new program of Early Learning Challenge Grants, modeled off of the of the Illinois Early Learning Council, which Obama helped create as a state legislator.
Whichever way you're voting today, I think we can all agree that these political babies are adorable. Since they can't vote, please remember them when you do.
Photos courtesy of flickr users Ladd, dwyeropolis, stirnaman.photo, and Brian Finifter, used under a Creative Commons license.
Tomorrow, millions of Americans will go to the polls to vote for the next president, as well as a host of down-ticket races. As the 2008 campaign draws to a close, Early Ed Watch takes a look back at the role of early education issues in the 2008 campaign. The economic situation, Iraq war, and national security issues consumed most of voters' attention this year, so educational issues in general didn't get a great deal of attention. But in many ways this was a breakthrough year for early education. For the first time ever, presidential candidates for both major political parties--Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain--put forward early education policy agendas that recognized the importance of high-quality early education, demonstrating that support for quality early education is a bipartisan issue. Early education also got a high-profile shoutout in the presidential debates.
It may be just that your blogger has a weakness for films such as Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction, and has long suggested that the entire South Bay region of Los Angeles be known widely as "Tarantino-land." But I've not heard a better, more striking voiceover than the one to this No on Prop 8 ad. The voice belongs to actor Samuel L. Jackson, and no one else could quite deliver the following line in the same way: "That was a sorry time in our history."
One caveat: the message -- linking the fight for gay marriage to previous fights against racial and ethnic discrimination -- is a risky one. In interviews I did for pieces in the Washington Post, I was struck by the anger about churchgoers about this particular sort of argument. To them, it sounds as though their faith is being called racist.
Today Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice President, gave her first major policy address, offering a set of policy proposals to improve the education of children with special needs. As Palin noted in her speech, quality early education programs are particularly important for children with special needs. So federal policy proposals to change or improve special education are relevant to early education.
Palin offered three proposals: Change federal regulations to allow/encourage more states to adopt special education vouchers modeled off of Florida's McKay Scholarship voucher program for students with disabilities; fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and reform special education programs.
This year it was Joe the Plumber. In 2000, the average-American stand-in in the presidential debates was Kailey, a student at Sarasota High School in Florida who had to stand in the back of her science classroom because the class was severely overcrowded and there wasn't enough space to give her a desk. Vice President Gore pointed to Kailey's experience repeatedly in the 2000 debates to illustrate the need for smaller class sizes and federal funding for school construction.
"I want the federal government, consistent with local control and new accountability, to make improvement of our schools the number one priority," the Vice President said in the first debate, "so Kailey will have a desk and can sit down in a classroom where she can learn."
If Al Franken wins the Senate seat in MN, I think the Dems likely win the all important 60 seats. Saturday Night Live needs to have a statement that this will be the best political achievement for SNL since "Senator and Mrs. Blutowski" from Animal House.
The second debate between presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) takes place tonight at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Early education has already emerged as a topic in the first presidential debate. Here are some questions Early Ed Watch would like to see the candidates answer tonight or in the final debate later this month:
1. A generation ago the United State led the world in levels of educational attainment, but rates of high school and college graduation have stagnated, and we are now at risk of losing our leadership position on education. Columnist David Brooks has identified this "skills slowdown" as "the biggest issue facing the country," and has proposed increased early education investment as one response. As president, what will you do to reverse the skills slowdown and restore our nation's position as first in the world in educational attainment?
2. One in four American students who enter high school as ninth graders fails to graduate within four years, as do half of Latino and African American students. Research shows that failure to read and do math at grade level by the end of third grade is a strong predictor of later school failure and dropout. As president, what will you do to ensure that all American students achieve grade level proficiency by third grade?
Oh why did this have to happen in the fall in an even/election year of the 8th year of a presidency. any other time the vote passes yesterday.
Thursday Congress returns to debate the financial crisis. Do you wonder if McCain wishes he had Romney now heading into the debate with Biden that night instead of Palin?