A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to Farce or Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”
James Madison (1788)
According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education:
“In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than the average performance for most OECD countries. The United States also performed below the OECD average on each mathematics literacy subscale representing a specific content area (space and shape, change and relationships, quantity, and uncertainty). There were no measurable changes in the U.S. scores from 2000 to 2003 on either the space and shape subscale or the change and relationships subscale, the only content areas for which trend data from 2000 to 2003 are available. In both 2000 and 2003, about two-thirds of the other participating OECD countries outperformed the United States in these content areas. In 2003, males outperformed females in mathematics literacy in the United States and in two-thirds of the other countries”.
An issue that is at the top of my list for rating candidates in the 2008 election is EDUCATION. While I freely acknowledge the threat of terrorism in the world, the challenges facing US global competiveness has the potential to affect my day to day activities to a much greater degree than Bin Laden.
The Republicans focus on parental choice, “No Child Left Behind”, and testing. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee presented comprehensive plans supporting these ideas.
On the Democratic side, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama and Joe Biden presented the most visionary plans. John Edwards and Chris Dodd also stood apart with plans to reform “No Child Left Behind”, expanding national preschool, and making college affordable.
Bill Richardson was the only candidate that said that he would do away with “No Child Left Behind”. Richardson approached this issue with a broad brush which included the following:
Create 250 Math, Science, and Innovation (MSI) Academies
Beyond School: The Richardson Plan for Promoting Life-Long Learning and Adult Education
Oppose Private School Tuition Vouchers, Increase Public School Choice
Barack Obama focused on more of the structural barriers to education such as attracting, retaining and supporting good teachers. He also addressed our math and science deficits. Joe Biden addressed teacher retention but also focused on moving from a twelve year system toward a sixteen year system.
I rank the candidates on this issue: