"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Great Reason to Vote for Hillary

From the New York Sun:

Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 15, 2008 updated 2/16/08 10:21 am EST

Senator Obama said this week that he is open to supporting private school vouchers if research shows they work.

"I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn," Mr. Obama, who has previously said he opposes vouchers, said in a meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We're losing several generations of kids, and something has to be done."

Education analysts said Mr. Obama's statement is the closest they have ever seen a Democratic presidential candidate come to embracing the idea of vouchers. Vouchers are taxpayer-funded scholarships that allow families to opt out of public school and use their government-allotted education dollars to attend a private school instead. They are despised by teachers unions, powerful players in Democratic politics.

When Mr. Obama filled out questionnaires for both national teachers unions last year, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, he told the unions that he did not support vouchers. But on Wednesday Mr. Obama opened his remarks to the Journal-Sentinel's question on vouchers by saying he had to admit that he has been a "skeptic" of vouchers.

He said he was astonished to learn that a voucher program in Milwaukee had never been tested in a longitudinal study to find out whether it had helped children or not. "If there was any argument for vouchers it was, all right, let's see if this experiment works, and then if it does, whatever my preconceptions, my attitude is you do what works for the kids," Mr. Obama said. . . .


  1. Anonymous6:02 PM

    That was an interesting place to cut the article, considering the next few sentences:

    Told a current longitudinal study is ongoing, Mr. Obama said, he would respond to its findings with an open mind.

    The executive director of the lobbying group Democrats for Education Reform, Joseph Williams, said the response was unusual for a Democratic politician, praising Mr. Obama for making his bottom line helping children learn rather than ideology.

    "I don't think anyone can call him a voucher supporter out of this, but it is an intriguing response," Mr. Williams said. "It is a different kind of answer than most of us are used to hearing from politicians."

    I don't like vouchers at all, but then again, I have a child starting in my public school system again. The differences I see since I last had kindergarteners 11 and 8 years ago are pretty stark.

    I don't want to leave the system, I don't want to use a charter, I don't want to homeschool, I don't want to private school. But, I also don't want my 5 yo to hate school.

    Somehow a candidate saying that he has an open mind about research results during a campaign that doesn't really worry me. I do feel that education is his weakest topic, HOWEVER I also think he's a fast learner and that the more he knows the more likely he is to think the "right" way (anti-voucher, anti-excessive testing, etc.)

  2. I've seen the video, and you can see it too:


    Go to the "search" feature, type in "Obama vouchers," and it will take you to the entire interview upon which this is based.

    I think you will come away with a different impression. However, Obama expresses strong support for charters. He offers two strong objections to vouchers, both of which, I think, could be applied to charters too.