Anyone notice education got short shrift in GOP debate. Why?

What do you make of the absence of any real discussion of education at the Republican debate last night?

Education was not a focus in the GOP debate Thursday night.

Education was not a focus in the GOP debate Thursday night.

With the exception of a Common Core question to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on his support of Common Core, which he deftly deflected into a general call for higher standards, and a response from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, education was lost to all the rhetoric over immigration, economics and abortion.

Bush said:

I’m for higher standards…measured in an intellectually honest way, with abundant school choice, ending social promotion. And I know how to do this because as governor of the state of Florida I created the first statewide voucher program in the country, the second statewide voucher program, in the country and the third statewide voucher program in the country. And we had rising student achievement across the board, because high standards, robust accountability, ending social promotion in third grade, real school choice across the board, challenging the teachers union and beating them is the way to go. And Florida’s low-income kids had the greatest gains inside the country. Our graduation rate improved by 50 percent. That’s what I’m for.

Rubio said:

Well, first off, I, too, believe in curriculum reform. It is critically important in the 21st Century. We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.

Here’s the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is, you will not get federal money unless do you things the way we want you to do it. And they will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.

The complexity of school reform makes it a difficult fit for a debate where answers must be concise and compelling.

But clearly candidates need an education position given schools are a major concern for millennials and Gen Xers.

I went to a variety of think tanks this morning that normally comment on education issues, but hardly any referenced the lack of education discussion in the debate. That may come later. Most of the country is still in vacation mode, unlike Georgia where school has either started or will start Monday.

Here are reactions of two education groups that did comment:

Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund:

Tonight, the GOP presidential contenders offered zero ideas and no proposals to improve our education system or make college more affordable. Instead of ideas to increase access to a quality education for all children—no matter their ZIP code, background, or income level—we heard more of the same conservative talking points to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and lip service about the need to provide education from governors that have cut education funding in their own states. Providing a high-quality education for all of our students from cradle to career should be a top priority for any leader of this country.

Collaborative for Student Success:

Tonight two candidates engaged in a discussion over Common Core, and even while debates are created for the purpose of identifying differences, neither candidate fundamentally disagreed with the other. In the end, one candidate defended the Common Core State Standards by name and the other candidate disparaged the brand, but both strongly supported the underlying fundamental principles of the Common Core: higher standards and local control. Governor Bush did so when he said, “I’m for higher standards, measured in an intellectually honest way,” while Senator Rubio agreed on the need for education reform, calling it “critically important.” Additionally, both agreed on the necessity of local control. Governor Bush said that “states ought to create the standards,” while Senator Rubio asserted “education policy belongs [at the state and local level] because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to the local school board or the governor and get it changed.” In the end, Governor Bush closed with a vociferous defense of higher standards: “Make sure your standards are high, because today in America, a third of our kids, after we spend more per student than any other country in the world other than a couple rounding errors, to be honest, 30 percent are college or career ready. If we are going to compete in this world today, there is no possible way we can do it with lowering expectations and dumbing down everything. Children will suffer and families’ hearts will be broken that their kids won’t be able to get a job in the 21st century.”

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64 comments
An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Why, why, I am totally shocked, Ms. Downey........YOU watched the GOP Debate? Can we count on you to vote for the Republican Candidate?

WhiteRabbit
WhiteRabbit

Remember how it seemed like George W. couldn't hurt much--he was just an idiot boy who got in on a fluke, right?  And then, and then, and then.

dun
dun

It isn't shocking at at all that they didn't mention education in the debate.  It isn't new.  In general, Republicans don't support public education.  Here in GA, the education budgets have been absolutely ravaged since the Republicans came into power in 2002.  The latest proposal is to stop rewarding teachers for advanced degrees (that they pay for out of their own pocket) and for their years of experience.  The intent of the Republican party is clear yet so many teachers are voting Republican.  It is quite shocking that so many teachers vote against your own self-interests, but the Republican party has successfully served up social issues that help the Christians believe they are voting for Jesus when they pull the lever that has the "R" on it.  


If the teachers in Georgia would vote for people who truly support education, our school systems would not be in the shape they are in.  

Astropig
Astropig

"Here’s the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is, you will not get federal money unless do you things the way we want you to do it. And they will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states."


Rubio is exactly right. Fortunately, a LOT of grass roots activists on both the right and left,who agree on little else,are working to throw sand in the gears of CC.

Intteach
Intteach

@Astropig I know they do that all the time! I hate it that they paved our roads all the way to our doorsteps - the government just never stops and just keeps on going and going. What will be next? Asphalt roads from the bedroom to the bathroom?

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

In case you didn't notice, EVERYTHING got short shrift in this 'debate.' Unbunch your panties.

GuyOnThisSite
GuyOnThisSite

The debate has moderators. If they don't ask questions about education, then education won't get much discussion. Shouldn't you be attacking your fellow members of the press for not asking the questions you wanted, rather than criticizing the politicians for not talking about questions they weren't asked?


Or would that go against your narrative of all GOP candidates being worthless?

irishmafiahigs
irishmafiahigs

@MaryElizabethSings @Starik @GuyOnThisSite yes sure it's the Republicans, not the parents who don't make education priority one in the home, it's not money like the liberals babble about  ..adjusted for inflation we spend almost 300% more per student than we did in the 1970's, not the teachers unions who make it nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher (and almost unanimously have their minions support Democrats) ,not the discipline issues, or all the paperwork teachers have to fill out in lieu of teaching, and certainly not the awful teacher prep programs in colleges, nope it's Republicans fault 

Michael L. Hays
Michael L. Hays

I do not miss any candidates' proposals on education.  We have all the proposals from the likes of them and the moguls of capitalism which we need, all same-old, same-old about new or re-arranged deck chairs.  What we lack are sensible analyses of the problems as the basis for proposal solutions.  The problems are not failing students, failing teachers, failing schools, low test scores, lack of school choice or school vouchers, lack of funding, etc.  The problems have to do with the development of comprehensive, carefully structured and sequenced curriculums, and rigorous requirements for teacher mastery of the subject matter which they teach.  As it stands, curriculums are a pastiche of this-and-that, and teachers, at least at the elementary level, are educationally unfit.  As a nation, we no longer know what we should teach, no longer have conviction in what we teach, and no longer know how to teach it.


Two examples:  One, typical of previous curriculums, Common Core lacks a coherent curriculum of grammar.  For instance, CC specifies the teaching of reflexive pronouns in the second grade and intensive pronouns in the sixth grade.  It is just nonsense that the collective wisdom of the experts in 45 or so state departments of education thought to split up instruction in these pronouns, which are identical in each category, and do not provide for a unit on pronouns (or any other part of speech, for that matter, or for a systematic study of grammar).  Imagine teaching math or science in such a disjointed fashion.


Two, over 30 years ago, an experienced teacher of gifted fourth-grade students in one of the nation's better public school systems, when asked about the definition of an adjective--"a word which modifies a noun or pronoun"--could not explain what the word "modify" meant.  Which means that students had to study examples and hope for the best; but they never learned for certain how to ascertain whether a word was or was not an adjective and acquired neither competence nor confidence in English grammar.


BTW, more money will not create a coherent curriculum or ensure that this teacher knows what it means for an adjective to modify a noun or pronoun.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Michael L. Hays


"As it stands, curriculums are a pastiche of this-and-that, and teachers, at least at the elementary level, are educationally unfit.  "



That is a pretty broad statement. I would posit that I am more than "fit" as an elementary teacher. 


"For instance, CC specifies the teaching of reflexive pronouns in the second grade and intensive pronouns in the sixth grade.  It is just nonsense that the collective wisdom of the experts in 45 or so state departments of education thought to split up instruction in these pronouns, "


Although the "words" may be the same, such as "myself" as reflexive and "myself" as intensive" they are used in very different ways, and second graders can handle the reflexive case, but might be confused if you red to explain the intensive case to them.


"...and do not provide for a unit on pronouns (or any other part of speech, for that matter, or for a systematic study of grammar)"  


I am not sure to what you refer since our third grade standards include expectations like the following...Students will be able to: ."Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences."  


There are some good points in here:  "The problems have to do with the development of comprehensive, carefully structured and sequenced curriculums, and rigorous requirements for teacher mastery of the subject matter which they teach."


But then you go on to suggest that teachers are unfit by using an example of one teacher from 30 years ago who was less than stellar. Yes, that teacher does not sound "fit" but I assure you, there is not a teacher in my school who does not understand how an adjective is used to "modify" a noun or pronoun.


If the curricula concerns you, best take it up with the large publishing companies who are making billions.  The teachers and schools have little control over curriculum choices.... except on those rare occasions where we get to design our own -usually as a result of budget cuts and no money for texts.  It would be wonderful to have a "comprehensive, carefully structured and sequenced " curricula - but good teacher learn how to adapt what they have and build meaning.   If you ensure "teacher mastery" then the curriculum is less critical.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Quidocetdiscit @Michael L. Hays 

Michael evidently does not understand that language development starts at birth (and some believe it starts before birth) so that by the time students are 6 and 7 years of age, the range of their individual skills of understanding grammar is quite wide.  Teachers of elementary students must, first, develop higher spoken and listening language skills in some of their students before these students can adequately "dissect" that language into parts of grammar.  This is why we should teach the same curriculum at differing times and a differing rates to different children, depending upon their individual mastery levels of the language curriculum, at point in time.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

As long as we're calling out absences, I have not noticed any coverage of Stephen Green in the AJC since the June 30 story that he was going to be sworn in.  That's unfortunate; the AJC is overlooking several juicy stories.  For example, there is the contract for international teachers that Board Member Stan Jester questioned -- the terms of the contract were indefensible.  Rather than defend it, Tekisha Ward-Smith simply dropped it from the school board's agenda.


Dekalb's international teachers (who worked under that contract) were quickly scarfed up by Rockdale County and other metro-area school districts.... leaving many Dekalb schools without teachers.  I wish the AJC would go ask some Dekalb Principals what it is like to find out that they need to hire teachers a mere two or three weeks before the school year starts.


On July 25, the AJC did report that Dekalb added 300 teachers since the 2014 school year....but I wish ya'll would compare that number to the number of international teachers lost.  Heck, right now, DCSD's Paperless Applicant Tracking System (PATS -- on the web at pats.dekalbk12.ga.us so you can check for it yourself) shows that DCSD has openings for TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN (213) Teachers in Dekalb.... and students return to Dekalb schools on Monday.


On Monday, WABE's Martha Dalton reported that Stephen Green promised that Dekalb's Special Education Department was "Under Reconstruction".  That's great news, but nobody inside DCSD seems to know anything about it.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"....education was lost to all the rhetoric over immigration, economics and abortion....."

So, let me get this straight, if the candidates talk about a topic you are interested in, it is a "discussion."  If they talk about something else, it is "rhetoric".

Got it.

BTW educators, it ain't "all about you".

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Lee_CPA2 

Frankly, I'd be thrilled if the Federal government would just get out of education and send that money back to the states.  They can't even take care of themselves, much less education. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Lee_CPA2


Did you watch the debates?  A lot of what was said could certainly qualify as "rhetoric" regardless of the particular topic, 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Quidocetdiscit @Lee_CPA2

I watched about twenty minutes of it.  It is a media dog and pony show rather than a true "debate".  Can't have a debate with ten people.  Narrow the field down to about three and then let the gloves come off.


That said, in the short time I watched it, Huckabee seemed to be more on point than the others.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Well, we can always stick with the soft bigotry of low expectations the left is so enamored with. 

popacorn
popacorn

@FIGMO2

Recognizing the hard reality of low intelligence might give us a chance. Our inability to accept that not all folks can achieve equally is causing our free-fall. 

Gwinnetting
Gwinnetting

Interest in issues, as measured on social media, had education way down on the list of topics. Anyway, everyone except the anti-reform crowd knows only competition and parental choice can solve our problems.

Everything else is just stalling.

jerryeads
jerryeads

I know this will fall on deaf ears, but (once again) the problem IS "standards." "Standards" translate directly, do not pass go, do not collect $200, into 10th or so (usually) percentile cut scores on minimum competency tests (that means 90% pass). "Higher standards" translates directly into raising the difficulty level on the minimum competency test to, say, the 12th percentile (so 88% of the kids pass). The high performing kids are still ignored (they're going to pass anyway), the really low performing kids are still ignored (they're not going to pass no matter what you do), and the instructional effort shifts to the slightly higher performing kids just below the 12th percentile. And a slightly higher percentage of kids drop out to be burdens on the system. The research on this phenomenon is starkly clear. And yes, I know, I've overstated the accuracy with which teachers are forced to do drill and kill test prep rather than teach, but hopefully a few of you get the point.

The solution, of course, isn't simple like "raising standards." Stop trying to divert tax dollars to private schools (vouchers), stop raiding the school budgets for pet projects as did a former governor (what was it, $7.6 billion?). Look for progress from every student regardless of performance level (yes, we're starting to do that, however ineptly), but most importantly, let good teachers actually teach rather than force them to do test prep. And yes, there's a lot more.

But too many people want SIMPLE answers - not ones that actually work. So that's what you hear from people running for office.


class80olddog
class80olddog

@jerryeads The problem with your solution is that the 88% who pass may not be minimally qualified - if everyone is illiterate, then 88% that "pass" (due to extremely low cut scores) will be illiterate.

The 88% today might have been the 50% of the sixties.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads


"The solution, of course, isn't simple like "raising standards." Stop trying to divert tax dollars to private schools (vouchers), stop raiding the school budgets for pet projects as did a former governor (what was it, $7.6 billion?)."


Did you divert your education dollars to private schools ,Jerry? Did your kids attend public schools?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@jerryeads What TEACHERS and other edukrats want are EXPENSIVE solutions that don't work.  However, the solutions I have proposed are not only very inexpensive, but they were proven to work in the 1960's.  I am pretty sure they would work today if administrators had any gonads (male and female alike).

class80olddog
class80olddog

And what part of the Constitution authorizes the federal IDEA?

Grass_Hopper
Grass_Hopper

What do you make of the absence of any real discussion of education at the Republican debate last night?"


It shouldn't be a federal issue; that's what I make of it.

class80olddog
class80olddog

So exactly how does the Commerce Clause in the constitution authorize the Federal Dept of Education?

GuyOnThisSite
GuyOnThisSite

@class80olddog Probably the same way it authorizes them to make laws about drugs. If you buy drugs within your state, then you didn't buy them from another state, thus it affected interstate commerce and so the federal government gets power over it.


Of course that ignores an important question. If the federal government basically has power over everything, then why does the Constitution lay out any restrictions for the government. Obviously they wrote that into the document for a reason, so when the SCOTUS rides roughshod over plainly written phrases, one wants to ask why they even bother looking at the Constitution if they are just going to twist every restriction into "We can do anything we want."

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Republicans care little for public education,  they don't want to fund it, rather give out vouchers to the well heeled to go to private school. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Jefferson1776


The founding fathers didn't want to fund it,either. You should know that Mr. Jefferson.

GuyOnThisSite
GuyOnThisSite

@Jefferson1776 Not sure if you realized this, but Democrats have controlled the Department of Education and basically education at all levels since the 1970's. And interestingly enough, our educational outcomes have fallen continuously ever since. Whine about the GOP all you want, but the Democrats are 100% the owners of US education for the past 40 years, and their record is continuous failure. Not sure why you want more failure, but supporting the same people who drove our schools into failure makes it seem like that's what you want.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Jefferson1776 

"Republicans care little for public education,  they don't want to fund it, rather give out vouchers to the well heeled to go to private school."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There is some truth in what you state.

irishmafiahigs
irishmafiahigs

@Jefferson1776 you are aware that adjusted for inflation we spend almost 300% more per student than we did in the 1970's ? For all that extra money ..nada.. but you want to spend even more!

sssinff
sssinff

@Astropig


Thomas Jefferson had no part in writing or ratifying the U.S. constitution. He was serving as an envoy to France in the summer of 1787, when the constitution was ratified.


Ironically, a fact that anyone who paid attention in high school American history would know. All the more reason that we need strong and comprehensive public education.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 

You need to fine tune your thinking, Astropig, instead of stating blatant public lies.  The facts were that Thomas Jefferson advocated for public education for every child in Virginia when he was Governor of that state because he knew that only through education of the entire populace could our nation's people be fully self-governing.  However, Virginia's state representatives, who were wealthy landowners, would not agree to pay public taxes to support the education of all children at that time. Nevertheless, Jefferson's advocacy of public education for all - rich and poor alike - was not in vain, nor forgotten, and after he had died, his educational ideas for all helped to establish public schools in America.

Point
Point

Florida's test scores are not impressive.  Jeb Bush threw out his canned answer when common core was mentioned because he doesn't want anyone to know he's a huge promoter and profits from common core.  


Since most of the GOP candidates believe schools should be privatized and run like a business, then they should have the same beliefs about Washington.  All candidates should withdraw and nominate the businessman Donald Trump as their 2016 candidate.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Point


We have had several parents enter our school system from Florida... what they describe sounds like a horror show.  I have not met ONE public school parent from Florida who is impressed with that state's current educational situation.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"Bush said:

I’m for higher standards…measured in an intellectually honest way, with abundant school choice, ending social promotion."

Amen, brother!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

From my perspective, the Republican candidates who addressed education in last night's debate, and specifically who addressed Common Core standards, did so to enhance a states-rights political agenda in order to appeal to their base.  In other words, the topic of education was used as a vehicle to promote conservative politics, primarily, not used to inspire as to the value of excellent education of the entire populace, through a deep-seated respect for its value as Thomas Jefferson had tried to do.


Most Republican politicians, as I see it, respect power, primarily, whether in matters of war and peace or in personal monetary power and gain, instead of primarily respecting education and enlightenment, as the chief means of achieving peace on the planet and economic equity in the nation. Those are the reasons that Donald Trump has taken the lead in the Republican polls for the last few weeks, imo.


Misguided and wrong values, imho.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@1Robert 

You are equating the APS with the Democratic Party and I think that comparison is so intellectually outlandish in hyperbole as to not deserve a response.


Furthermore, as I have often written on this blog, I do not believe in "blaming" regarding educational growth.  I believe in educating and lifting communities, their schools, parents, teachers, administrators, and students in any school district.  The children and the parents of the APS deserve our support, and our help, not our condemnation, which helps no one.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 

I repeat:  You need to refine, or to "fine tune," your intellectual thinking habits, Astropig.  Limited intellectual perceptions, at present, at best.

Astropig
Astropig

@1Robert @MaryElizabethSings


" Whose values run APS and what have those values done for the children of Atlanta ?"


Excellent point. You could also throw Chicago,Detroit and a lot of other big cities in there and be spot on.


Catch of the day.