Thursday, November 06, 2008

Did McCain have better learning policies?

Interesting postscript to US election. Turns out McCain had more progressive educational ideas in technology than Obama.

McCain was far more radical and progressive in e-learning. He supported expanding virtual learning by reforming the "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program," with an initial $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings for students. He said he would allocate $250 million to support states that commit to expanding online education opportunities and proposes offering $250 million to help students pay for online tutors or enrol in virtual schools. On top of this low-income students would be eligible to receive up to $4,000 to enrol in an online course, SAT/ACT prep course, credit recovery or tutoring services offered by a virtual provider. Obama has no policies in this area.

Both voted for and support Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with some adjustments, no difference there. Both want to fund more teacher training, get better qualified people teaching and increase more accountability into teaching, no difference there. 

The real difference comes in Obama’s Early childhood education: where he wants to invest $10 billion a year to increase the number of children eligible for Early Head Start, increase access to preschool, and provide affordable and quality child care. He also proposes to increase the child and dependent care tax credit.  It may also surprise some that Obama is a keen supporter for Charter schools that receive funding from sources other than the state and get autonomy in return (same as our Foundation Schools), doubling the funding. This is part of his policy to increase choice for parents on what schools they can send their children to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Obama fan, but on education his policies seem predictable and a bit limp. For someone who won the election on the back of the smart use of technology he’s really missed a trick here in education and training.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The challenge for Obama is that he did a lot of "talking." Now he's got to do some "doing." No one really knows what his policies are because he talked as a centrist and his voting record is left of that.

I think what hurts him is that his party is yoked to the educational unions which are not always the most progressive when it comes to change.

The irony is that all of the public educators I know are very passionate about progressive change.