Transcript: Education and the Next President
A debate between Lisa Graham Keegan, education advisor to Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, and Linda Darling-Hammond, education advisor to Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, held at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Cowin Conference Center on Tuesday evening, October 21st, 2008
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Good evening, everyone, I'm Susan Fuhrman, the president of Teachers College and it's my great pleasure to welcome you to “Education and the Next President,” a debate between the education advisors to the two major presidential nominees. In addition to our live audience tonight I want to extend greetings to those of you who are watching the Web-cast of this debate at home or in special gatherings, including many Teachers College alumnae.
We are absolutely delighted to be hosting this event here at Teachers College, the nation's oldest and largest graduate school of education, and particularly so at the culmination of the campaign which in our estimation has focused too little on the subject of education. It's our belief that viewed in the longer term, education is not only critically important in its own right, but also central to addressing economic challenges, national security, global relationships, the environment and virtually every other major issue on the table. That's a view rooted in the thinking of perhaps the most iconic figure in the College's history, John Dewey, who argued that education is not merely something that occurs in classrooms but is instead the stuff of daily life, imparted in homes, streets, churches, communities and the world at large.
No one is more familiar with the challenges of education or the challenges we face in the future than our two speakers tonight.
Lisa Graham Keegan, education advisor to Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, served as Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction after two terms in Arizona’s State Legislature, establishing the state as a national leader in the charter school movement. She subsequently served as chief education officer -- superintendent of public instruction -- from 1994 through
2001. In that role and during her two terms in Arizona's House of Representatives, she advocated for rigorous academic standards, annual testing, stronger accountability and school choice. She made Arizona a leader in creating new charter schools, and she also led enactment of Arizona's School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Bill, the nation's first measure to create a tax exempt source of funding for scholarships at private schools or enrichment programs at publicly funded schools.
Ms. Keegan has also served chief executive officer of the Education Leaders Council, a non-profit education reform organization that she and other chief state school officers founded in 1995. She was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's restructuring team for the Florida Department of Education and also of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's education policy transition team. Ms. Keegan writes frequently for the Hoover institute, the Manhattan institute, and the Pioneer institute.
At the 2008 National Republican Convention Ms. Keegan was the vice chairman of the Republican Party platform committee and instrumental in the development of policy statements on education and Northern Ireland relations. She was a prime-time speaker at the Convention as well on education and disaster relief issues.
Linda Darling-Hammond, Education advisor to Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. She was the William F. Russell Professor of Education at Teachers
College and co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching.
At Stanford, Dr. Darling-Hammond has served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. From 1994 to 2001, Dr. Darling-Hammond served as the executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, which produced “What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future,” a landmark report that led to sweeping policy changes affecting teaching and teacher education. She is a board member of the National Academy of Education and former president of the American Educational Research Association. She has authored, coauthored and edited many publications including "Preparing Teachers for a Changing World, What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do," which won the Pomeroy Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; "Teaching as the Learning Profession," a handbook of policy and practice, which received the National Staff Development Council's Outstanding Book Award for 2000; and “The Right to Learn, a Blueprint for Schools that Work,” recipient of the American Education Association’s Outstanding Book Award for 1998.
Welcome, Lisa and Linda.
The format for tonight's debate is as follows:
I will ask each of our speakers a number of questions on topics ranging from the role of the federal government in education to the issues involved in ensuring that all students have access to quality teachers. We will spend 45 minutes on that back and forth. And I ask each debater to keep her responses to two minutes so we can cover as much important ground as possible. We will show a little sign to let you know when two minutes has approached. I will then ask each speaker to put a question of her own to her opponent. Finally, we will take written questions from the audience. To submit a question as you were told, you must write it
legibly on the colored card that was given to you when you entered the auditorium, and you must include your name and other information specified by the card. No anonymous questions will be asked. The cards will be collected midway through the debate by the ushers.
I debated about the order. I thought, should I do it alphabetically by Linda, Lisa? Should I do it by McCain and Obama which is the opposite? But we decided to flip a coin.
The first question is a question that each debater has proposed herself, and Linda Darling-Hammond gets the first question. Your opening question is: How would Barack Obama differ from John McCain as an education president?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, first let me say thanks to you, Susan, and to Teachers College for hosting this event, and to say hello to my friends on the student body. A special shout out to Maxine Greene and Tom Sobol, whom I see here and who are the heart and soul of this place.
I want to start by just making the point that Barack Obama will be a strong education president, and I think that will be in contrast to Senator McCain. He has put enormous priority on education. He has developed a detailed plan a year ago. He has talked about it in 12 speeches and in all three debates. He has made the point that when we have to think about how to move forward in this country, one of the things we must do is invest in education because in this knowledge-based society and world, we don't have any choice but to ensure that our kids are very well prepared for a time when most jobs now that pay well require college or beyond.
He comes at this both from his own personal experience, because of the importance that education had in his own life, but also from an analytic perspective; that is, understanding that while other countries are pulling ahead of
us, mostly because we are in -- running in place -- does that mean one minute? I have to understand what the signals are -- that they have been doing certain kinds of things very intensely over the last few years. They have been investing in early childhood education and healthcare for all of their children. They have been making enormous investments in the quality of teachers and teaching in very systematic ways so all kids have access to teachers who are well prepared. They will develop curriculum and assessments that are pointed at 21st century skills. And they are sending a growing share of their kids to college. So we have fallen to 35th in the world in Math, to 15th in terms of college access. And we are at a graduation rate that has been stagnant for 40 years, and others are pulling ahead. And that's costing us in many, many ways in our economy, in our national security. Obama has proposed strategic investments in those areas. He has already begun to take the reins in legislation in the Congress, and he is committed to making this a strong priority in his campaign. In a word, because my time is up, McCain has typically voted against most of these investments in the Congress. And has only brought up education in the last few minutes of the last debate when asked. It's not a high priority based on all of the evidence to date.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Well, Lisa you can choose to respond to that, but also the question you posed that you wanted to be asked is that Senator McCain has aligned himself with the efforts of New York City Chancellor Joel Klein and the Reverend Al Sharpton and their Education Equality Project. What about that effort is compelling?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: And I appreciate that, and thank you guys very much for having me here. It won't feel like any other McCain debate or McCain sort of rally, but it's awfully nice to be able to come and present what he actually does believe. I think it's very important. Senator McCain takes education very seriously. Senator McCain was part of a major push in 1994 with Arizona's Chicanos Por La Causa, the Hispanic community forum who put forth our public
charter school idea. We were the first in the nation to have a state board for charter schools. The reason we have done it is that we put on the board that it was a requirement that it be a majority minority board because it was so difficult for minority leadership to have a say in what was going on in some of their schools. So he has been there and has done the work. The reason he finds Joel Klein and Sharpton's education policy so compelling is because it gets beyond Republican-Democrat politics. It gets beyond whatever it is now that is preventing us from making the critical and urgent improvements in two majors areas – one, the quality of teachers in high-needs schools, and secondly, in the number of choices parents have for their kids.
Linda talks about Senator Obama. Senator Obama's mother chose to find a scholarship so he could go to private school. Lots of parents are assigned to schools that will not work for their kids. We have to take that extremely seriously. So whatever the convergence is between Reverend Sharpton, Joel Klein, Newt Gingrich and Roy Romer, there is a very narrow strip of agreement there that we have got to get together because all of those gentlemen have joined onto this project. Senator Obama has not chosen to sign onto this project. Senator McCain feels like that is the most illustrative effort of where he thinks we have to go next.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. The first question I'm going to pose, I'd like to get a sense of the importance of education to each of your candidates. Sometimes education advisors work through the domestic policy advisor, sometimes they have direct access. Do you each get face time with your candidate, and if so, how much? And do you think that the candidates have talked enough about education during the campaign? We will start with you, Lisa.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I have known Senator McCain for 22 years, so it's difficult not to have had face time with him. When I decided to run for state school chief in Arizona I was the first person to run for that office as a full out supporter for public charter schools, choice. At that time, 1994 in Arizona, public school
choice was sort of a bellwether event, and so I was seen as something of a risky proposition. I also decided to run when there was a Republican in the race. I decided late, after we passed a lot of reforms.
And having control issues, I decided to run for state school superintendent to implement those and I got a call from Senator McCain, who said, “Do you have a campaign chairman yet?”
I said I do not. He said, “Now you do. Don't lose.” He has been a great mentor, a great supporter of the kinds of changes that we wanted to make in Arizona. We did have the first tuition tax credit not just for private school access but for public support of every public school, and parents every December get inundated, I'm happy to say, with requests from public and private schools to donate to them. Senator McCain was also very fully supportive of that effort in Arizona when it happened. So he has been willing to go places where other people aren't willing to go. As he did in immigration, and that's the reason you will find a lot of the Hispanic community strongly supportive of Senator McCain, particularly if they know him from Arizona. He has listened to our Hispanic community about what was necessary for their kids not to end up in dead-end environments. He has been a constant supporter. You can always rely on a phone call from Senator McCain if something goes wrong in education on the front page of the paper, and the question will be, “Is this your fault? And the next thing he says is, “What do you need? Is there anything we can do to help you get this done?” He is a constant presence in the lives of those of us who are trying to get this done.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, one of the things about Barack Obama's priority on education that has kind of surfaced over and over again is that, in these recent debates and in these very, very troubling financial crisis times, he has been asked, you know, “Well, what would you not spend money on in order
to manage the financial crisis?” And he has said over and over again, “I will tell you what I won't cut. I won't cut the budget for early childhood education because it's the investments we will make in children that will close the achievement gap before they get to school and enable them to have a level playing field when they start.” When Senator McCain went to the NAACP convention last summer he promised to fully fund Head Start, but he has voted against it at least four times in the last decade, and his plan would actually cut $3 billion out of Head Start in order to both freeze the budget and make the $300 billion in tax cuts that are on the table. So I think part of the question of priority is that your money has to be where your mouth is with respect to how you are actually going to transform the inequalities that exist in our public education system and make the kind of investments that are necessary to move us forward. Because for every dollar we invest in preschool, we are going to reap seven to ten dollars in returns to the education in less school failure, higher wages, and so on. He kind of acts on that deep sense of priority in many, many ways, and legislatively in terms of the way in which he continually prioritizes it in the pulpit, if you will. And so his many education advisors -- and I will say there are a number of education advisors in the Obama campaign, in contrast to McCain --
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: There are a lot of us.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, you are certainly a –
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I'm a mouth piece.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Yes, definitely. Get a lot of direct feedback from him about what he cares about, about what he wants to do. His plans are really his plans. Many people have noted that a very big portion of his agenda is an agenda to create a profession of teaching, to invest in recruiting, improving preparation, ensuring mentoring, ensuring professional development, ensuring that there is a career advancement system and ladder for teachers. And that
comes from his own personal belief, that he has stated many times to many of his advisors, that teachers are the single most important element.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Well, we will move on to teachers a little bit later, but let me press you. Do you think there has been enough conversation about education in this campaign?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I think in fairness to both gentlemen, they have mentioned it a lot, and, Linda, you are wrong that Senator McCain hasn't brought it up, except at the last debate. You know that. He gave a major speech at the Urban League, at La Raza, at the NAACP. He did a whole tour in Mississippi and he has spoken constantly about education. I read the speeches that both gentlemen have given, and I am always fascinated that for both gentlemen the day after they give the major announcement, it falls flat except in places like Ed Week and those that education are essential to. You don't read much about what they are saying. It doesn't have a second life. And so I think as a public, we kind of have to put part of that on us, part of that on the press that's not following through with it.
You will notice if anything gets attention, it gets magnified, and it's kind of unfortunate because then it turns these campaigns into emphasis on things that probably most of the public would rather we weren't spending a lot of time on. But I think you have to be fair to both of the candidates that they have put it out there and continue to, as it's important. It doesn't have a -- it doesn't have much of a resonance with the press.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I think we should thank Ed Week for sponsoring the Web-cast that's going on now because that allows us to have a conversation about education. And it is certainly frustrating, you know, Obama has given a dozen major speeches on this topic and it isn’t picked up, as Lisa says, so I think that the media in general are not, you know, understanding how important
education is to the future of this country. I think that we have been through an era where really, for a number of years, education has been second, third, fourth, fifth place in the order of priorities, and that's why I think it's so important to have a president for whom this will be a major agenda. Because if we don't make the investments that we need to make, our economy will continue to suffer. Our national security will suffer. We won't be able to pay for Social Security if we don't have people making good wages and paying good taxes, and the public has got to be able to be led by somebody who understands this, who understands that the investments we make in every child reap benefit for every single American.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. As you both know, a number of studies cast doubt on whether NCLB will achieve its intended goals. That's No Child Left Behind -- I'm sorry for the acronym. One study, published in September in Science, concludes that nearly all of California’s elementary schools will fail to meet the goal of proficiency in 2014. Another study found a 56 percent increase from one year to the next in the number of schools in the most serious category of remediation. A third study said that the state with the schools most needing improvement were the most overwhelmed and lacking in capacity to turn these schools around. Why do you think we are facing these shortcomings and what changes would your candidate make in NCLB when it comes up for reauthorization next year? We will start with you, Linda.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Senator Obama believes in the goals of the law, the idea of closing the achievement gap, ensuring that all kids have access to well-qualified teachers. Having methods of accountability that allow us to see how schools are doing and to have that data reported is very important. At the same time he acknowledges that there are many, many problems with the law and how it's been implemented. They need to be fixed.
He has made proposals both about the way in which the accountability metric works for No Child Left Behind, which is a kind of a complex topic but we need to
be moving towards looking at the continuous progress that students and schools make. We need to be able to look at value-added. That is, how much growth do children make in the system? How are schools moving ahead in that way? We need to be able to look at measures that in addition to the kinds of standardized tests we currently have evaluate 21st century skills. If you look at other countries, their assessments include relatively few multiple choice items and, in some cases, none. There are essay examinations, oral examinations. Kids are doing science inquiries, research papers, technology projects. Those are part of the examination system. They are part of the accountability system, in countries that are top ranked in the world. Finland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand. We have to move ahead of the kind of assessments we are putting in our schools and looking at if we want the schools to be teaching in the ways that we hope that they will. And finally, the law needs to be organized around investing in school improvement, in strategic and useful ways, rather than simply trying to flog schools into excellence with a set of sanctions and punishments.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Senator McCain is a strong supporter of the aspiration of No Child Left Behind as well, and where he is absolutely adamant is that state standards and the assessments for kids that are in place have got to stay in place. He would change the way that we judge the quality of a school's work by changing it to a value-added formula for adequate yearly progress. The problem with backing off of assessments and turning them into sort of portfolios or things that are more subjective is that we can't compare kids. And today on NPR, Melody Barnes said we should get away from bubble tests and get to portfolios and things where kids can demonstrate. That's where we were before we had accountability. Because in low-income areas, kids come home with an A on a paper for work that would get a C in a high-wealth area. So you can have fabulous formative portfolios and everything in the instructional process and at
the end of the day have a great question that you answer by filling something in, but the question could be compelling.
The point is that Senator McCain's belief is that one of the strongest features of No Child Left Behind that we did not have in place before was the ability to know how every school is doing. You can go out and go to grade schools.net. You go to a number of places, School Matters, you can see how your school is doing at least in part. It doesn't tell you everything you would want to know about a school. You have to have a good fit. You have to have a good social fit, a good spiritual fit or a good mission match, but surely it tells you how the school is doing. And nobody has been more supporting than the civil rights community. A few months ago we had somebody try to do away with No Child Left Behind. The strongest reaction was from America's civil rights community because we did not know what we know now.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: That's not actually what Melody Barnes said. She said in addition to standardized tests we need to look at other assessments. She did mention portfolios. They are used in the charter school she is on the board of, but in other countries -- and we have to get knowledgeable about what does go on in other countries. If you look at the GCSE exams in Britain, if you look at the A exams, examination systems we talk about and hold up, they routinely use open-ended and essay questions. They routinely include elements like research projects. They are scored in consistent and reliable and valid ways. They produce evidence that can be factored into reported data, you know, that they produce numerical scores just like international baccalaureate examinations do which have elements that are both projects that are in the classroom and that have open-ended exams just like certain advanced placement tests do.
We have been stuck in a 1950s conception of standardized testing which has gotten more entrenched in the last few years because of the requirement for every-year, every-child testing, which has costs associated to it. But what we
haven't thought about in our policy system is how to undertake the kind of assessment that is again common place in all of the highest achieving countries in the world -- completely scorable consistently.
They use moderation, they use auditing, just like the New York State Regents exams which include questions like that, and what they are doing is they are teaching higher order thinking skills.
They are getting greater equity in the curriculum for students in all kinds of schools because rather than some kids bubbling in all day and other kids doing this rich curriculum work.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: If we have schools that are just bubbling in, those are lousy schools. I’m sorry, but that is just ridiculous, great teachers do not just give their kids bubble-in tests. The tests at the end of the year, I’m happy to hear you clarify that, if it's applying to everybody, to everybody, the same way, that's great. That's great. And if the validity is high, that's great. That's been the biggest problem with portfolios. You remember in the 90s when we couldn't make them valid. Arizona had to dump the entire testing system. If it's applied to everybody, that's great, and there are surely better ways to do assessment. So Senator McCain, just to be clear, his point is whatever fabulous assessments we want to give, you set the standard the same for everybody and you assess everybody the same way. You don't have one test over here and one over there. Instruction in the school is and should be inclusive of formative assessments that are cognizant of the test at the end of the year but don't spend their lives worrying about it. Great instruction and great teachers don't worry about a test at the end of the year, they don’t stress over it. They go right through it.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Lisa, I saw you nodding your head before when Linda was questioning Senator McCain's commitment to early childhood education. I'd like to move to that now. How supportive is Senator McCain in early childhood?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: He is very supportive. I don't know where you got the $3 billion goes away. Senator McCain does freeze domestic spending and he does hold education spending where it is, which is 47 percent higher, which is higher than it was six years ago. It's at a high level. The concern we have to have is, if it were true, and I wish it were, that preschool was resulting in this fabulous effect, then by now we should have a lot more progress in elementary, middle and high school. Because in 1994, when we did our first state sort of add on to Head Start -- that was the first time Arizona did that, $10 million, and it's grown since then -- I have to tell you, we don't see the kind of benefit we ought to be getting from that.
Why not? As somebody who is obsessed with language -- I was a linguistic major, language acquisition. And laying down language tracks for kids by having them in the presence of educators who have fabulous knowledge of what it is to expand on a child's language and present language and feedback and really lay down this foundational basis, that's not who we have in too many of our early childhood programs. Senator McCain is saying we absolutely have to get to the issue of quality teachers in preschool programs. The estimates are that there are a vast majority of our kids, four-year-olds, who have access to a preschool program. The question is whether it is effective access. Are those kids ready? Are they lucky enough to be in the presence of somebody who knows how to get their language going? So Senator McCain is saying, look, we have got to talk about the quality of these programs. We do have to have an assessment of the quality. We can't be flinching away from quality assessments of preschool, and you get a lot of pushback, as you know, on whether it's okay to look at the quality of preschool programs, because people feel like you are going to sit kids down and horrify them with a testing situation, and that's not the case.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Linda, can we expand preschool while still maintaining quality or aiming for higher quality?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Absolutely, and let me clarify, you asked the question of where did the cutting the $3 billion come. When Senator McCain put forth the proposal he identified a number of places it would come from, and $3 billion was from Head Start. So that's one percent of it, but significant in the context of Head Start.
The early childhood research base is really clear that high-quality preschool -- and we know the elements of that kind of high-quality preschool from the work -- not just preschool but many others has strong benefits and lasting benefits for students throughout school. We also know you can't just send kids to good preschool programs and then into lousy schools. The follow-through studies found that if you do that, you may lose some of the gains down the road. You have to continue with that. But the kind of instruction that's necessary, the kind of parent involvement in education that's necessary, is really clear. Obama's plan is both to expand access, because right now only about 40 percent of the children eligible for Head Start get access to Head Start. Only three percent of the children eligible for early Head Start get access to early Head Start.
So his plan both improves quality with a set of ways to both look at the quality of early childhood education and to leverage changes in the nature and quality of teaching and also to expand access so that we are beginning to reduce that achievement gap. He will quadruple the number of students getting access to early Head Start. He will increase the numbers getting access to Head Start by more than 100,000 to reach over a million, and he will also provide early learning challenge grants to states so that the state movement to begin to provide early childhood education is reinforced with quality levers, so that it also becomes stronger. In the long run, this will do, as we just saw recently in New Jersey, when as part of their school finance funding plan, they put early childhood education in place, and if you look at the data for New Jersey now, you will see that the achievement gap has closed more in the last few years, particularly in
the early grades, particularly in early literacy, because they instituted high-quality preschool. They trained teachers. They put resources in to be sure that the nature of the programs was high-quality, and they offered it to virtually all of the low-income children in the districts that needed it. Their overall achievement is going up. Their achievement gap is reducing because they are putting that resource where it's absolutely needed.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: I am going to ask both of you to try to keep to the two-minute time, and if there are rejoinders to stick to under a minute because we have many questions left. A number of big cities, including New York, are recruiting a number of teachers from Teach for America, the New Teachers Project, et cetera. Some recent studies suggest we no longer have a traditional system, but a very variegated system with all sorts of pathways that can be successful under certain conditions. What approaches to teacher preparation does your candidate value and how does he support them? We will start with Lisa.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Senator McCain has been clear he has been compelled by the research that tells us that countries that focus on recruitment from the highest level of universities, across content areas -- so the highest performing graduates -- this is who they are pulling into the education system. They are pulling the top 25 percent off that. Those teachers go into preparation programs or as part of their instruction, if they are in that top tier of achievers in universities, they are also introduced to pedagogy and instruction while they are in school.
In Arizona for instance, we pay for scholarships for kids who perform well in high school. That would be a good tier of kids to make sure they have pedagogy as instructional part of their course work so they may choose to be a teacher, but they would be ready to go into more training and potentially to teach. So he is very compelled that that is vitally important, that we recruit extremely strong
academically focused people to begin with. What is interesting to Senator McCain, obviously, Teach For America is a compelling program. Troops to Teachers, right now it represents the single most prevalent resource for minority men into teaching -- Troops to Teachers. The High Tech High, in California they have a program where one of the highest-performing high schools produces teachers on site. The alternatives will become main stream and I think they should. Senator McCain is saying we have to keep the door open. So we need a high standard and low barrier to entry, lots of ways to come in. Lots of ways for mid-career changers, like the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence. All of these programs are monitoring themselves, monitoring programs, monitoring the quality of instruction with kids, and it's quite high. There is no argument that alternative programs are not doing well by students.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I want to pick up on the thread of what other countries are doing because I think that is important. What you see in the highest achieving countries, the Scandinavian countries and Asian countries as well, is that they bring people from the top tier of either high school or college students into undergraduate or graduate programs. They pay their way for three to four years of teacher education, which includes clinical practice in schools that are associated with the universities -- what we might think of as professional development schools. They are getting all of that preparation free and with a stipend or a salary, as they get in Singapore. They come into a profession that's well paid and in Singapore earn more than beginning doctors do. The doctors do catch up.
They get intensive mentoring. They get 10 to 20 hours a week of professional learning time to plan and collaborate with colleagues and get better at their craft, and they have career pathways that move forward. All of those things are part of what Senator Obama has proposed as elements of his agenda for improving
quality of teaching. He is in favor of recruiting academically able people. He appreciates the Teach For America recruits that come in and teach where needed. He appreciates the dedication of and the ability and training of folks here at Teachers College, people at Stanford University and other places, and he appreciates the mid-career recruits coming into places like the teacher residencies in Denver and Boston and Chicago. And he is planning to expand those kinds of high-quality pathways that ensure that teachers get strong preparation. He has offered service scholarships of $25,000 for people who will come into teaching, a free ride to get prepared to teach in high-need locations and high-need schools, as well as ensuring that they get access to all of the professional learning supports throughout their career.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: And should we be paying teachers for student performance gains, and in what way? Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: For Senator McCain, this is a key part of the program. He believes that school principals should be the people in charge of both recruiting their own staff but also evaluating their own staff, and he would like to use federal money that goes to schools to go directly to schools and have principals be able to reward teachers primarily on the basis of student achievement. They might choose to do that in the entire school. They might choose to do it partially your own kids, partially a group, but they absolutely in his mind have to organize themselves around student achievement.
This is the difference between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Senator Obama has said you can use achievement over 50. Senator McCain has said it has to be over 51. Looking at what happens in the classroom and how well teachers do with gains of students, not getting to a particular bar, but the gains of the kids, from where they start to where they end up. We know that we have a great capacity now to look at student gains.
We also know that kids who are with teachers who are not effective and cannot move their kids for three years in a row, the child is lost. Just lost. The difference in percentiles is 50 percentile points, there is no recovering, and there is no recovering for a child that has that kind of sequence. And if it weren't happening so often it wouldn't be so tragic, but we have so many constraints around being able to pay teachers for their own performance, mostly in the bargained agreements, that there is no way to do it now. Senator McCain is saying with federal money, that money is going to be used for that kind of academic gain and there should be.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: There is no percentage level, but there are big differences between the plans. What Barack Obama has proposed is that we need to recognize and reward excellence in teaching as part of a career ladder, as part of career development program that ensures that beginning teachers get strong mentoring on the way into the profession from expert mentors who can give them that intensive help, make a real decision at tenure, continue with ongoing professional learning and opportunities for teachers to grow, and give teachers opportunities to take on roles as mentors, as coaches, to be leaders in high-needs schools.
Those teachers need to demonstrate excellence in the classroom, and evidence of contributions to student learning and achievement. There are a lot of districts and states that have built these kinds of career ladders which have lasted much longer than many of the merit pay plans that have come and gone since the beginning of the century. Florida's was just repealed lately. Jeb Bush's merit pay plan, which tied teacher's pay to student test scores, it didn't last long. But the career ladder programs, Arizona's career ladder, New Mexico, Denver, Montana, Minnesota are creating a way by which teachers are developing expertise, sharing expertise with their colleagues, and at the end of the day everyone is
better educated, all teachers are better supported, because it sees this as part of the development of the career over time, taking account of all of the ways in which teachers make contributions to their students' learning.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Lisa, you are dying to get in.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I'm sorry to say that Arizona’s career ladder program has not had a profound effect on achievement. Florida, when they did have focus on achievement, had a bigger close in the gap, the achievement gap, while improving more than anybody else in the country. So it was a pretty effective policy if you look at what happened because of the policy
So these are very different. The other issue is, Senator Obama is saying the union has to agree with whatever it is. You have got Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. Senator McCain is backing what she is trying to do. She is saying, “Let's look at two ways to do this, either go with the old union contract or go with the new one and pay you more, but let me judge you on the basis of achievement, let the principal judge you on the basis of achievement.” The fact of the matter is, Linda, it sounds so great and fabulous when you say it, but then why are we so constrained and why are we not making progress? The fact of the matter is, in the places where they have been focused it's making differences for kids.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Let me talk about both Florida and Arizona. There have been a set of studies done of the districts in Arizona that have stepped up and developed these kinds of career ladder programs, and, interestingly, they have shown gains in student achievement in comparison to the gains that other districts have made. In Florida there are about 55 different reforms that were going on at the same time, and so you can't really isolate any one thing, but the fact of the matter about the merit pay plan was that it was not only deeply unpopular with some teachers who didn't -- even the ones who
received the bonuses felt they were unearned. They felt that it was creating a competition among teachers instead of teachers working collegially with one another and with teamwork. It was disadvantaging teachers who took on the neediest students. There were a lot of concerns. School boards had problems with it and parents had problems with it. So when it was finally repealed it was because it had been roundly believed to be unsuccessful by virtually all parties involved.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Except for the kids who got better.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I don't think there is evidence about that.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Let's stay on the issue of competition and talk briefly about charters and choice. Is there daylight between the candidates on charters?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Yes.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: What is that?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Senator McCain would do a couple of things, absolutely lift any caps on the ability for states. He can't enact that, but he would support states doing away with caps. Senator Obama said very notably that we should make sure that those schools and those states put in place the kinds of controls that we want so that we can say what's an effective school. Senator McCain does not want to get into the business of saying to states what an effective charter school program is. Senator Obama has said only a non-profit can be a public charter school, apparently. Senator McCain is saying only a school that is doing well by kids can be a public charter school. They can organize themselves in whichever way they want to, but the bottom line is this better for kids? Are they getting academic gains? I can stop there.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I think that there is some agreement that investment in public school charters is one way to improve the system, and Obama has proposed to expand both funding for public school charters and accountability. He wants to see that failing charters are closed while successful charters are enabled to move forward. He also has proposed a $200 million school innovation fund to support the kind of new schools in the public districts that are being created, as right here in New York City, that are redesigning schools, starting new school models that are more successful as well. So he sees a number of ways to make the investments in a strong public school sector where choice builds the supply of the schools worth choosing. Because choice isn't worth much if all it does is move around the deck chairs on the Titanic. Very good schools are already full. They don't have a lot of vacancies. We have to build the supply of those schools. So that's a place where you will see a lot more activity from Obama. He is opposed to vouchers. He believes they drain money from the public schools. Senator McCain has been in favor of vouchers and has proposed to give additional money to the voucher program despite the fact that a recent study found that it did nothing to add achievement to the students that participate in it. Same findings we have had in Milwaukee in a couple of ways.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I believe there are achievement gains in the schools and that the parents are much more highly satisfied with the schools, feel they are safer, their kids are happier there and the environment is one they would like to have for their child. It's deeply ingenuous for Obama to have been the recipient of a scholarship of a private school, to send his children to a private school, and then to lecture people that going to a private school drains money from the public schools. So Senator McCain, although it's a small portion of his plan, he does believe, in a desperate situation like D.C., where kids are failing to learn to read, yeah, if parents want an option, that's probably a good idea.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: As Linda thinks of her rejoinder, now is the time to turn in the questions. People will be coming around. Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: The theory people have around vouchers is that either the competition will improve schools at large, or they will improve the achievement of the students that get them. The study was clear, it did say parents felt better about schools, but it did not find achievement gain for kids that got vouchers, and D.C. public schools in the year of having these vouchers have not improved. Same thing was found in two studies in Milwaukee, that neither did individual students improve achievement nor did the public schools. So it's a question of what you think is a useful investment of the public's dollars to get the kind of growth that we want. Senator Obama attended both public and private schools, but he didn't ask for, you know, the taxpayers to pay for that. And I think that's where the question about choice is important. What we have found in the voucher programs is quite often a lot of the private schools don't really want high-need kids with poor attendance records and low test scores. They don't want to participate in the voucher. For education to get better for those children, they need high-quality public schools that are going to ensure that, and those could be within the traditional district or the charter system, but they have to be schools worth choosing.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: We are going to have to send you guys out to read the data. It's just not right. There are lots of groups that have looked at these. And countries that have more than 50 percent private schools, they have better public schools.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: If you want to give the studies that you want people to read, I will put them on the web site.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I want you to read the study put out by the Institute for Educational Sciences in June of this year, early summer.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: That is philosophically opposed to choice.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: The Institute for Educational Sciences is the federal government!
SUSAN FUHRMAN: We are going to give you guys a chance to go at each other in a minute. I would not be true to my own education here at Teachers College if I didn't turn to the subject of money. My field here was school finance. And I have to ask you about money. We don't, number one, we don't have any. We are at a trillion dollar deficit almost. State and local governments are in terrible shape, and we will be seeing decreases in property tax and other revenues. How are we going to support schools in general? How are we going to do the things your candidates propose? What will we do about special ed, that's been under funded for so many years? Here we are in an institution for higher education, and we are worried about student loans and access to college. So get into it, Linda.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: You want all of that in two minutes? In the last debate – Bob Schieffer made a statement that the U.S. spends more on education than any other country. That is true in higher education. We have a system that is the envy of the world. It is not true in K12 education or in pre-K education as a percentage of GEP. We are about 13th in the world in K-12, and we are 25th in the amount of additional money we have spent over the last five years in terms of increases. So we are falling behind in the investment race that's going on around the world. So we are going to have to find money for investments. We have to be careful about wasteful spending.
Let me say a few words about wasteful spending versus investment. Those are two different things. We lose about $300 billion a year because of the effects of dropouts. Those are costs for lost wages in taxes, for incarceration, for healthcare and a variety of other things. If we could cut the dropout rate in half -- and, again, the investments in early childhood and teaching, in school redesign, that Barack is proposing could do that -- we would save $150 billion. His total plan for pre-K and K12 education is about $29 billion. We are about to spend $2.25 trillion, I just saw, on the financial bailout. That's the most current estimate that was in the newspaper yesterday. We are talking about a tiny percentage of that as less than one percent to make the kind of investment that's going to be
needed to turn around the wasteful spending that we engage in because we are not educating kids well early on. The most inmates are high school dropouts. Prison populations have gone up by 300 percent. We are spending more of the money we should be spending on healthcare and Social Security in the prison system, and you have states saying they predict prison beds tens years out from third grade reading scores. We will spend $35,000 on somebody in their cell but not $10,000 on somebody to make sure they have a qualified teacher in second grade. So we have to think about it in terms of our investment.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: There is just not one single credible study now that says what we really need to do in the United States is spend more money. It would be easy to say that's what it is. But the United States in real dollars has quadrupled our funding since 1968, real current dollars, and at the same time we have had achievement absolutely flat, slightly negative. I know that's no fun to hear because it's always more fun to say, well, what we need to do is make an investment. That's not what's getting us where we want to go. It doesn't mean we couldn't use more money. It doesn't mean we shouldn't spend more money. We are about the highest spending money on administration and about the lowest on teacher's salary. The thing is upside down. It's ridiculous. There are plenty of ways to reorganize the ways that we are spending our money, but look at the National Center for Education and the Economy. Marc Tucker's group put out a study on what’s going on in the world and said that's ridiculous, that is not an argument. If money were the answer, New Jersey, D.C., ought to be off the charts and they are not. They are spending much more money. They spend twice what we do in Arizona. And Arizona probably needs to kick up its investment.
But I think this is an extremely easy thing to continue to say.
We have got to make an investment, and what Senator McCain wants us to do is to do the kind of work the Education Equality Project is asking us to do, sit down
and say, Why, with all of the resources that we have? -- let's make some tough decisions. Are we in our own way? Do we have barriers that are keeping us from having the best teacher in the most needy class rooms? Why is this not happening in the presence of the resources we do have?
SUSAN FUHRMAN: I'm going to let you continue this conversation for ten minutes on this or anything else you want to talk about.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Let's talk a little bit about New Jersey and D.C. I think D.C. is a good example of wasteful spending, and it's what happens when Congress tries to run a school district. There has been a whole history about that, but New Jersey is a place that for years and years spent a lot of money but didn't deal with the inequalities of the state.
We have an unequal school system, whereas most countries spend money equally on all schools, and they might add more in schools that serve high need students. We spend much more on education of our wealthy students than we do in education of poor students. In most states there is a three- or four-to-one ratio between the highest- and lowest-spending districts, so we have places in New York as well as California -- even more there, because funding is less -- where the paint is peeling, where there aren't computers, where kids don't have qualified teachers. That was true in the urban districts in New Jersey for a long time, and finally they were forced by the court to put funding into those districts. They were strategic about how they spent the money, and I do agree with you, Lisa, that we have to be strategic. We can't throw money at the problem. We have to throw it in the right place. They put the money into early childhood education, into improving the quality of teaching in those districts, literacy coaches, a variety of things. They are in the top-tier states in achievement in the country, far above where Arizona is, they are always in the top ten, usually in the top five and their achievement gap has begun to narrow significantly over the period of time since they made those very strategic investments.
We have study after study that shows that if you make investments carefully in high-quality ways on the right things, you do get results, you do get achievement gains. I think you have to be smart about how we spend our money.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Well, of course, we have to be smart about how we spend our money, but, you know, talking about the differential between the amount of money that gets spent on a personal level -- and not speaking for Senator McCain now -- that's a huge issue with me. It always has been, and in Arizona, when we went through a school finance lawsuit when I had my job, I actually turned the state's position around because I thought it was wrong to argue that poor students have as much access as wealthy do to money. They don't.
That's the truth, and Senator McCain was one of very few Republican leaders who didn't call me and tell me to stop it. The fact of the matter is, there are differences, Linda, but you can't just ignore that in the places where kids are failing, that it's money or that they don't have the resources and make that argument that that's what it is. That's not it.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: All right.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: That's not it. So better teaching, that's an issue. Why don't we have better teaching? And why don't teachers get paid? They don't get paid more because we have contracts that say, “Here is where you are going to start, all of you in the district, here is where you will end up, and you will get a step and a bump, and you will stay in the classroom even if you are not doing a super jiffy job of teaching, there is not much I can do about that.”
We all know this. So it's time to confront that. It is time to confront that. And that is what Senator McCain is saying -- let's get the best possible young people, old
people, whoever, in our classrooms. Let's get development to principals, get development dollars to principals so they can do professional development that is relative to the needs of their school. Let's get kids in Title One, immediate money to kids. That's the kind of things that will make a difference. What I always want to know is what is the money for? You say it's for strategic, we are going to add more, we are going to be strategic. Fine. For what?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Thank you for asking that question.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Not a problem.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: We are talking about a $10 billion
investment in early childhood education to expand the number of kids who get access, low-income children that get access to the programs that exist.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: And increase quality by?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: By both looking at the ways in which teachers are prepared and programs are structured in those environments and evaluating the way in which the programs are designed. There is a whole set of design features that are articulated.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Do you evaluate the actual program? Do you test the kids in the preschool? Do you take a look at how the teachers do?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I think there are a lot of ways to look at how kids are doing in preschool programs other than sitting them down to try to take a test, and there is a whole conversation about that in the Early Childhood Education literature, which I think you are well familiar with.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: So, no.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I think there are ways to see how students are achieving. There are observation protocols, ways to look at how kids are doing. There are also ways to look at the long-term outcomes of the programs. You have to do both, you have look in the moment and look, as many studies have, at how kids progress in school over time. We know that those who get the kind of quality they need develop language, you can evaluate kids' language acquisition by using tools that have them speak in ways that you can record it validly and reliably without asking them to sit down and ask them to take tests that are not developmentally appropriate. So that's the first part of the answer about investment. Three hundred thousand more kids, Senator McCain has talked about investing in early childhood, $200,000 per state if it's available.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: He is talking about centers of excellence, not for tuition. He is talking about making sure we train people who are in these situations to understand what it looks like when a preschool program is a quality program, to find a way to assess. There is nobody that I know, Linda, who sits down with a child who is a four-year-old across a table and hands them a test and says, you know, sweat this out or throw up or be nervous. I mean, I have given a bunch of Peabody vocabulary tests my entire life. These things are not onerous, but you have to measure, as you said, you can do it through observation, but you have to do it, and we are not doing it now. That's what that $200 thousand for the center is for.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: What it won't do is expand access to kids that don't have access now, and there is no money in the plan to do that. So we have huge poverty and we will have a lot of kids coming to school who have not had early childhood education.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: As will be true after you add another $10 billion.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: We will be close, between the state challenge grants and federal piece. I would like to move on to point two to say what we are going to invest in strategically. The second most important thing is the quality of teachers. And those kinds of investments need to bring money in for recruiting the best and brightest. You have to underwrite so people don't have to go into debt for a career that doesn't pay enough to allow them to pay off the debt, you have to expand more equitably.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: How about expand Teach For America, that right now is doing this work? Why don't you expand that program and dedicate dollars to that? Like Senator McCain is doing.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Is that what he is planning to spend money? So what are you taking money away from in order to do that?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: In Title 2, that he would use part of that professional development dollars for those teachers, for bringing in those teachers.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, if you did that, you would have people coming in for all of the great things that Teach For America candidates do, they are making a two-year commitment. Most evidence suggests that they stay two or three years.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Most teachers stay at the rate of 40 percent.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Let's talk statistics again. Thirty percent of teachers leave within five years, that's the federal number from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey, and others show 49 percent of those who come in without training leave within that period of time. Nineteen percent of those who come in fully trained leave in that period of time. So there is a big difference in how long prepared teachers stay in the profession.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: These guys go out -- as you know, they are the founders of public charter schools, innovative ideas, Michelle Rhee in D.C., an innovator leader who comes out of the system because it is very achievement oriented as a group. Their instruction in how to teach is about instruction, about what a successful school looks like. So those are -- and it's not just Teach For America. There is a number of programs that Senator McCain, as you know, is offering to support.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: I'm fascinated by what you are doing but we do have questions from the audience.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I don't think that builds your profession.
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Why is a T.F.A. teacher not a teacher? Of course, they are.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: You need three million people, not a few thousand, many of whom stay for a career and become highly expert and become the glue that holds schools together, enables schools to move forward, build curriculum, figure out how to teach kids well and mentor teachers -- those beginner teachers who come in. And if you don't have the entire profession doing the work together using a knowledge base and building it in some kind of systematic way, you will never get to the kind of achievement outcomes that we see in these other countries that do invest in teaching as a profession.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Let me pick up on a question I tried to ask about higher education. How are we going to preserve access to higher education asks one of our audience members given the recent financial turmoil and reports that student loans are becoming harder to get. Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Senator McCain's plan -- a couple of things. First of all, one of the things he says about high school is he wants to make sure there is already a connection made around the junior year, and certainly by the senior year, between a student and what their post-secondary work is. So either they are already being connected into high-level vocational training for life sustaining skills work if that's where they are headed, or they are already engaged with the community college or university. As you know there are a number of high schools now, highly successful projects that have college work in the high school. And kids can already collect credits while in high school and reduce the cost.
And also decrease transitions that fall off between high school and college, make that a much more seamless transition because kids are already hooked in.
If they are choosing to go to the military, they are doing preparatory work there. High school can no longer be something that happens in isolation and then maybe you go on. You say to kids, are they going to go on. You are in and you connect those and that makes it far less expensive to be in universities.
The other thing he would do is to take all of the grant programs -- and unfortunately we had the Congress add 50 new categories to higher ed granting programs, and you all have the privilege of filling it out -- and make that a much cleaner project. We could add $3 billion by simply streamlining this project, and Senator McCain is saying all of the grant programs have got to be under one umbrella so that they are easy for families, they are accessible, there is transparent information about schools, and that would create a much greater pool of money that's available for them.
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: So Senator Obama has made some substantial commitments around financial aid for students. He has worked with the Congress to raise the amount of the Pell Grant so that it more closely approximates what people actually have to pay. Back in the ‘70s, the Pell Grant was like three quarters of the cost of an education. It's fallen to about a third. And so he has
worked to get the legislation in place to make it continue to progress towards a greater share. He has also proposed a $4,000 a year tax credit, refundable, advancable, for young people to go to college. That will pay about two-thirds of the cost of college at a public college or university, and will enable virtually all young people who are qualified, have made the grades and are ready to advance, be able to go to college. This is, again, really important for our future economy. Because college graduates now earn three times as much as high school dropouts, although 30 percent of our kids drop out – and twice as much as high school graduates. Those wages and that productivity. The ability to take high-tech jobs, which we can't even fill with our own graduates because we are not producing enough highly educated people, is estimated to grow the economy by anywhere from about 4 to 15 percent in long-term economic growth. We are falling behind in that. We have got to make it possible for the young people who are preparing to go to college to go there.
He has also authored the Dream Act in Illinois, which is to enable young people who are immigrants to get access to financial aid, and that's going to be very important as well. So that the human capital we have, the talent that we have in this country is put, you know, to the development of the kind of skills we need to run a knowledge-based economy.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: So I have a number of questions here I will combine. Some are about the arts and some are about civics education. In both cases people think they are being neglected under a No Child Left Behind climate and focus on literacy and numeracy. Do you want to take that one?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Where they are is just a shame because by focusing on the arts in particular, you get a huge academic benefit. There is a great video, and I'm trying to remember whose it is. I don't think it's “Uncommon Schools,” although I do like the way they present their program as well. But there is a video out called "Flunked," but it's about schools that are making it. It's a pessimistic
tone for an optimistic film. It talks about schools that organize around particular principles, and one of the things we know about really effective schools is that they are mission-focused, they are committed to the kids, and many of the schools are organized around the arts.
A woman in Arizona, Karen Butterfield, was the founder of one of the first public charter schools, she was Teacher of the Year, and she started a public charter high school for the students that dropped off in the Flagstaff area. And one of the things she said was that it was critically important for them to focus on the arts because most of these kids had strengths in this area, and they were bored to death and they went into the public charter school organized around the arts and they were absolutely fantastic.
I think it is demonstrative of the fact that these schools themselves need to have mission focus and No Child Left Behind never said, and nobody intended for it to be a matter of “don't teach anything but math and science,” or “don't teach anything but math and reading,” science took short shrift too, but that was the response. And I think we have to look at ourselves for that. Why did we respond that way? How come we don't know that the best way to improve schools is to come out and organize around a mission and organize around perhaps the arts, organize perhaps around math and science, organize around something, but pull yourselves together as a school community, have a mission focus and go for it. It can be a lot of different things. That's the question. It's too simplistic to blame it on “we wanted to know if we were doing well in math and reading.” Of course we need to know that. But the best way to get there is in the more creative, mission-focused schools.
They are phenomenal teaching communities started by groups of teachers or reorganized by groups of teachers. It's the wrong answer and hopefully more people will go out and look at these highly successful schools and why they are.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Do you agree?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: That we ought to look at highly successful schools? For sure. We need to have a rich curriculum. It's one of the things Obama talks about a lot. We need to have kids engaged in science and history and the arts. There is a funding issue for low-income schools in this country. In California, poor schools don't offer the arts because they simply can't afford to have art teachers, and only affluent schools have music and arts and libraries of any kind, in California, at this point.
So we do have to worry about how we are going to leverage the changes in that system that are necessary if we want to have that rich curriculum available everywhere. The other piece you asked about was sort of citizenship and character education, and I want to deal with that as well. Senator Obama has a very, very strong commitment to the notion of service, that we do our best when we are working on behalf of one another. And so his service scholarships for entering not only teaching but public service, which will allow kids to get educated in college, the tuition tax credit asks for a hundred hours of community service. He is supportive of and intending to provide resources for community service in high schools, so that very early on kids get the opportunity to learn how satisfying it is to do things for one's colleagues, for one's community, to make that commitment, to be part of a democratic community. And to give in that way throughout their lives. And I think that's hugely important for the future of the democracy.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Has failure to address educationally relevant health disparities been a missing link in national school reform efforts to close the achievement gap? Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Absolutely. When we know that fewer and fewer people have healthcare. Many, many people don't have healthcare. There is a lot
of evidence that it affects achievement, it affects absenteeism and attendance. So many children have asthma now in, particularly in urban environments, that the little nebulizers are lined up in the nurse's office quite often. The kind of healthcare you need rather than having to take that kid to the emergency room when they can't breathe, you need the kind of preventive healthcare that allows them to be in school, be treated appropriately.
The Superintendent of Prince George's county, John Deasy, was describing, when I was with him recently, a child who lives in view of the White House and the capitol who died the week before from a cavity that had gone untreated because there was no dental care. So the critical importance of bringing a healthcare system to bear -- and, as you know, Obama proposes a healthcare reform that will ensure that all children have healthcare services -- is absolutely part of the need to wrap kids in a way that they can be successful in school. It's not an excuse to say that children deserve healthcare. It's part of who we are as Americans to ensure that it occurs.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I think that's right. I think it isn't an excuse. It's part of successful schools where kids are coming to that kind of healthcare. Successful schools will make sure they have got it. One of the things we need to do in early childhood care is make sure we are not preventing that.
I had the opportunity to oversee Head Start programs and one of the things that happens is there are so many constraints on certain programs and whether they can cooperate with other programs that some of the programs are prevented from working with the county health system because they are federal programs. And that's ridiculous and Senator McCain talks about that in his pre-school plans. You have got county healthcare, state healthcare programs, the federal healthcare dollars, and oftentimes you can't sort of entwine those together. So it
is critically important for those schools that need to access these programs that they can bring them onto their schools. There some really great models for it, and we have to make sure we allow that to happen.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Does your candidate support the development and implementation of national standards and assessments? Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: I think that what Senator Obama has really articulated is how important it is for us to have high-quality standards, and he says he wants to work with the nation's governors to raise the quality of our standards to make sure they in fact represent 21st century skills that are the kind that we need to organize all of our schooling effort around. And we need to then improve the quality of assessment so they are measuring those skills. That's probably going to be done in a partnership between states and the federal government, who are going to figure out together how to move this forward.
We have some states already that have very, very high standards and strong curriculum and assessment systems. We have others that do not. And part of the challenge is going to be, how do you move the whole system to resemble the best that's available and not have a pull on the system to lower standards? Now, one of the things that did happen with No Child Left Behind, because of the requirement that 100 percent of the students be proficient in a certain period of time, is that the states that had to find proficiency at a very high level reduced their standards in order to meet the expectations of the law. And it's one of the sort of flaws of the design of the law that needs to be remedied. We need to figure out how to support all schools in the quest for higher standards. I think we should look, again, at how other nations organize their standards and assessments to figure out how we do that well.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Lisa?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Senator McCain has said he is absolutely in favor of states maintaining standards, but he is in favor of the voluntary efforts that are going on. Right now the American Diploma Project, Project Achieve, the National Governors Association, 33 states are engaged in trying to not only get their standards together, but benchmark them internationally against the highest performing nations. And also making sure, as I think they have got to, that they do incorporate 21st century skills.
But clearly we haven't focused on technology, on innovative instruction. If you haven't read “Disrupting Class,” by Clayton Christiansen, I think that's a very compelling idea about what's going to happen with schools. Making sure we don't, through the standards movement, shut down a lot of what could be innovative ways to learn. So he is absolutely supportive of that going on. And the best dialogue will happen among the 33 states, and hopefully all 50 will join in and do it voluntarily.
Our assessments are written at the state level by only about five different testing companies, and I make a joke that the difference between has more to do with the map on the front page than it does between the items. But the standards themselves nationwide are still quite low in comparison to what the rest of the world is asking their kids to know.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Let me pick up on what you said about technology and ask you, Linda how important that is to the future of American education, and what kind of investments do we need to make in it?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: It's hugely important. Senator Obama has proposed $500 million in investments to both create more connectivity and accessibility in low-income schools. There is still a lot of schools out there that are not wired to be able to get access to high-speed internet, that don't have computers for most of the children there, and we can't expect them to develop
these skills. We need to infuse it in the way we teach. We have to help teachers learn how to use technology in new ways. We need to be able to develop the kind of courseware that makes distance learning and adjunct supports available to kids. Our schools for the most part still look in a lot of respects like schools did in 1950. Other countries are moving on ahead. And I think we really have to be clear that this is part of the future. When I was in Singapore recently, a very poor country, 80 percent of the kids live in public housing, but every desk there was a laptop, and teachers were using the computers in the way that they instructed. Kids would do an essay and be able to evaluate each other's from their laptop on their desk and give each other feedback, and she could pull up the one she wanted to identify in the front of the room, and so on. They are making enormous investments in this in other countries. We do need to get on that bus.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: So I will turn to a self-interested subject, and that's research. How would your candidate like to see research supported by the federal government?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I would recommend a web site called Science Debate 2008 that talks to both candidates about their science strategies, and it was in this place that Senator McCain chose to talk about his focus on research, on primarily the science of science itself, education, issues of STEM [science, technology, math and engineering], issues of basic research, and one of the things he says is we have got to get out of the process of doing sort of earmarked research projects and get to a place where we can absolutely have a national area of focus, which we must have.
He is proposing putting somebody in the White House whose brief is basic research in the United States and primarily in the area of science and technology, but also, are we in those areas where we are innovating, and he includes education K through 12.
When we are innovating in education, are we doing it on scientifically sound research? So it is a huge issue for him.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Do you have specific changes you propose to the Institution of Education Sciences, or is it pretty satisfactory as far as the Senator is concerned?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: I thought you were talking about it a couple of questions back there, Linda. I think the efforts there have been noteworthy over the past few years to try to tie instruction to scientifically-based research, to really hold our feet to the fire on whether what we are doing is having an effect on student achievement gains. So I do think they have tried to put a better focus on there. There is room for improvement there, and so, as Senator McCain has said, he would make that more of a focus of ours.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Linda?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, the Obama campaign has talked about how to ratchet up substantially the both the amount and quality of educational research so that we are making decisions based on what works. And he proposes also a panel of education researchers, practitioners, businesspeople and others who will help us think about how to scale what works up so that we can take advantage of not only what we learn about teaching strategies that work, schooling strategies that work, and try to disseminate that information, but also think about what have we learned about how do you make the kinds of changes at scale that would allow what happens in one place to travel to many others. How do you think about the governance changes? How do you think about the networking that's needed? He looks for, in doubling the research budget, more research on learning, learning for special needs students and English language learners, as well as learning in general, so we begin to tackle issues we have in enabling all kids to meet standards. Research about how to
develop more of the D in the R and D, to develop the kinds of curriculum and assessments that will be productive for the full range of learners in our schools, Looking into the content areas for how we are going to teach much more challenging content. We talked about the standards a little while ago. Our standards tend to be a mile wild and an inch deep. Other people organize their standards around a smaller number of constructs. How do we do that?
We need to look at that and then develop the kind of tools that will help the field move schools forward.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. I will ask a final question and let you use that as a lead in to your closing statements. And before we do that, let me thank you so much for this incredibly entertaining and informative session. So, Lisa, would you like to be Secretary of Education in a McCain Administration, and if not, who should be and what should be the main priorities of that secretary?
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN: Anybody that John McCain picks is who I would like to see as Secretary of Education. I think it's going to be critically important, quite frankly, for the country to focus on things like, as the Senator has said, the Education Quality Projec,t and really getting into some of the urban districts that are making huge changes in the way they do business. New York is one, since we are here, New Orleans is another where they suspended all of their old collective bargaining agreements in the restructuring district that Paul Vallas is running, because it was urgent. And literally their schools blew away. They had to create something. And the way they are doing that is new districts, is creating entirely new ways to envision their job. Their job isn't to create everything and run it. It's to invite in educators to start a school, to run a school, to think about it entirely differently.
I think that's going to be the job of the next president -- is to be extremely serious about inviting an entirely new way to do business, about bringing down barriers that are preventing us from getting this done now, and we know that they are
there, and with a laser like focus on whether it's good for kids and it will offend traditional systems. It has to because if it wasn't going to offend anybody, we would have done it already.
So Senator McCain is notably somebody who can work across the aisle, and I think this issue is no longer, if it ever was, sort of Republican and Democrat. It really has to do with those who believe that the instruction we are going to give kids is all we have to organize around, and all of the other constraints around adult organizations, around teachers unions, around finance, which offends people, around everything that we have ever done for public education, the question now has to be, how do we focus on kids? Senator McCain says on his web site that he envisions a public education system where the resources we supply for children literally follow those kids into the school that works for them, and that school gets those resources. Very simple sort of philosophical model.
It's all about the child. So whoever all of the people that are working with Senator McCain all over the country, are people who believe that that organizing principle of what's the right thing for the child ought to be what drives us.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: Thank you. Linda, would you like to be Secretary of Education in an Obama administration?
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND: We have a long process to get to an election, and I know the senator will pick the right person, and that person will have certain things in mind because the senator is very clear about where he wants to go. I think we will see that a priority is placed on building a real system that ensures that all kids get access to high-quality education. Right now we have a patchwork quilt all across the country. Things are haphazard about how people come into teaching and get prepared and get supported, about which kids get access to which kinds of services and opportunities. We don't have the capacity to ensure that everyone gets what is really the new civil right, access to a high-quality
education. So the priorities are going to be on making the investments I have talked about, all the way through a pathway to success from early childhood education through K through 12 schools that have great teachers, and schools organized for success focused on the kind of problem-solving and inquiry skills that kids need, and higher education support so that every child who has done the work and is qualified to go to college can go to college and can fuel our system -- our whole democracy really.
We need somebody who is going to look at what works again in a systematic way -- how do we scale it up? How do we translate that across districts? That is going to require equalization of resources, it is going to require investments. When people say -- particularly rich people -- that money doesn't matter, I don't see them trying to give it up. I see that the Superintendent of Scarsdale is here, Mike McGill is out there somewhere, I know that high-quality school district in Scarsdale is because he is not only strategic in the use of funds, but he has the resources to build that quality system.
We can't have a two-tier system anymore where, in these concentrated where African-American and Latino kids are concentrated, the resources are not there to ensure that they have a teacher that knows how to teach them to read, write, mathematics, to teach the needs of those with special needs and ELL, and that means we are going to have to make this work.
And that means we are going to have to make this kind of very systemic investment in the quality of personnel in the schools and giving them the kind of schools in which they can teach well.
SUSAN FUHRMAN: I want to thank Education Week for sponsoring this. I want to thank the audience for its wonderful attention and politeness, and I want to say good evening to all of our web-cast viewers, especially to the TC alumnae. Thank you very much.
Get more stories and free e-newsletters!
- Dean of Student Support
- UP Education Network, Springfield, MA
- Dean of Curriculum and Instruction
- UP Education Network, Springfield, MA
- Assistant Principal of Operations: El Paso
- IDEA Public Schools, El Paso, TX
- Executive Director of Secondary Education
- School District of Indian River County, Vero Beach, FL
- Curriculum Specialist
- Britannica Learning Systems, Chicago, IL