I didn't watch all of the debate, since it was mostly about the economy and fairly redundant - we've heard most of what they said last night already, in one forum or another. But at the end, they finally, FINALLY, talked about education. My classmates, professor, and I lamented at school after the last debate how the two candidates seemed to be ignoring education. We all said that we hadn't heard a peep about it since Hillary was still in the race. And yes, the economy is important, but really, don't you think Education should at least be mentioned?
I am one of the many voters in the "swing state" of PA who has yet to finalize my decision on a candidate. I'm of the opinion that all politicians lie, and I don't love either Obama or McCain. I think Obama is charismatic and kind of swarmy, and McCain is just - awkward and inconsistent. When I did an online poll based on issues, my feelings did lean more towards a particular candidate, but I'm still having a hard time rallying up any enthusiasm for him.
Back to education. Do the candidates really know what they're talking about? Yes, charter schools can be positive, as can vouchers. But for McCain to say that all schools are created equal and that there is a lot of money available for students in poorer areas to improve their education is just ridiculous. No Child Left Behind is a great, idealistic idea. As a government plan, it sucks. The better schools are rewarded handsomely for their high test scores, while the poorer (both monetarily poor and performance poor) are punished and given less funding. All this does is serve to widen the education gap.
Also, while I agree that having highly qualified teachers is an important aspect of NCLB, we can't put responsibility solely in their hands. An educator who teaches her students how to take a test well, drills them on these skills, and utilizes her classroom as the arena for these tasks may very well enable her students to be successful on state exams. High test scores boost the school's rating and demonstrate AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). But how do we know that the students actually understand what they're learning and retain this information? Many educators who use creative methods in the classroom and believe that assessment is ongoing and diverse may not have students that are as successful on state tests simply because they can evaluate their students in multiple ways, not just in this type of tests. So who's the better teacher? According to our presidential candidates, teacher number one is.
I'm disappointed in both of the candidates. I really hoped that at least one of them would have presented an idea for a more cohesive education system, or at least addressed/acknowledge the problems that exist with NCLB. I did miss the very start of their conversation about education, since I was flipping between shows, so maybe I missed a critical point, but I doubt it. I definitely heard McCain mention how wonderful NCLB is, and Obama didn't rebut that. So...I'm still undecided. I wish I could be like family members and friends who are fired up about one candidate or another, or about the election in general, but I just can't get over these impressions, and I can't see the positives of voting for one over the other.