Education Chat

After the Election: The Education Angle

Education Week staffers David Hoff, Alyson Klein, and Michele McNeil answer your questions about what the incoming Obama administration and Congress may do with regards to K-12 education.

November 7, 2008

After the Election: The Education Angle

  • David J. Hoff is an associate editor for Education Week. His blog, NCLB: Act II, covers news on the No Child Left Behind Act and its renewal.
  • Alyson Klein is a staff writer for Education Week, covering federal policy, as well as the states of Arkansas, Iowa, and Mississippi. She also blogs for Campaign K-12,’s blog on what the candidates are saying about education.
  • Michele McNeil is a staff writer for Education Week, covering state policy, as well as the states of Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. She also blogs for Campaign K-12.

Tina Trenkner (Moderator):

Good afternoon, and welcome to’s post-election Live Chat. Joining us live are Education Week staff writers Alyson Klein and Michele McNeil of the Campaign K-12 blog. Also with us today is David Hoff, Education Week Associate Editor and blogger for NCLB: Act II. These three have reported and blogged throughout the campaign season and will be answering your questions on the implications for K-12 education at the federal and state levels. I’m Tina Trenkner, an online producer at Education Week, and I’ll be moderating this chat with our reporters, all of whom have a unique background and perspective on education and politics. We’re already getting a tremendous number of questions for this chat, so let’s get right to them.

Question from Marvin Reid, Principal, The School of Performing Arts:

I am interested to know what President-Elect Obama and the new Congress intend to do about NCLB.

David J. Hoff:

A lot of people are interested in that. Mr. Obama said throughout the campaign that he supports the goals of the law (particularly the one to narrow the achievement gap between whites and minorities). He also has said the law has been inadequately funded, that the quality of tests need to improved, and that accountability should be based on student growth.

A lot of those things are easier said than done, though. Keep reading Education Week for how the story plays out in 2009 and 2010.

Question from Anonymous:

What will happen with No Child Left Behind under Obama? Many people said the funding was left behind by the Bush Administration. So what will happen to the program now? Will it get more funding or will teacher accountability be a thing of the past?

David J. Hoff:

Mr. Obama is one of those people who says NCLB has been inadequately funded. “Unfortunately, they left the money behind for No Child Left Behind,” he said in the 3rd presidential debate. Whether he can Congress can find money for the program in the current fiscal situation, that remains to be seen.

The program will continue as it is until the Obama administration and Congress agree to changes to it. It’ll probably take a long time for that to happen though, maybe until 2010. Question from Tanja Easson, VP, Academic Innovations:

What might the new administration and an increased number of Democrat-held seats in Congress mean for pending education legislation, specifically the re-authorization of NCLB and the proposed Graduation Promise Act?

Alyson Klein:

Great question. The short answer is that it’s hard to say. There are some major splits in the Democratic party on education. Some Democrats, like Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committe, have generally favored a strong federal accountability system that includes a role for high stakes tests. Others are more inclined to support the teachers’ unions, who aren’t fans of standardized tests and consider NCLB an unfunded mandate. If I had to guess right now, I’d say that the eventual reauthorization could include some role for multiple measures (probably local assessments in some form and maybe even portfolios) but that federally mandated testing isn’t going anywhere and will still be a part of how schools demonstrate student progress. I also think you might see some federal resources aimed at helping states revamp their assessments so that they better measure critical thinking skills. I’d also guess that the Graduation Promise Ac though, has high profile bipartisan support in both chambers and I think at least parts of it are likely to be included in an eventual reauthorization. Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball and the political landscape can shift very quickly. .

Question from Jill S. Levy, President, American Federation of School Administrators:

President-elect Obama often said that the key to our economic growth was education. How do you see that agenda playing out in our nation’s schools, particularly in the reauthorization of NCLB?

David J. Hoff:

Mr. Obama talked about education being key to the future of economic development, particularly in the 2nd presidential debate.

He has several ideas about how to improve student learning, mostly by expanding access to preschool and improving the quality of teachers.

NCLB needs to be reauthorized. The administration and Congress will get to work on it. Mr. Obama was vague about how he would address many of the key issues facing the law. Other than saying the quality of tests needs to improve and that accountability system should measure growth, he hasn’t explained what he would do to fix the law.

Question from Tonya N. Jefferson, CEO, Jefferson Liberty Organizations, LLC:

Can President-Elect Obama ensure that high standards apply to all students via a National Curriculum and National Standards? Leaving this up to the states has contributed to the steady downfall of education in the United States. Go back to the constructivist approach to teaching and learning.

David J. Hoff:

The president-elect hasn’t taken a firm stand on national standards. But that issue will be part of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. In the past two years, key lawmakers have proposed ways to give states an incentive to increase the rigor of their standards to match a set of national benchmarks. That looks as if it will be the starting point of debate once Congress gets serious about fixing NCLB.

Question from Heidi Gomez, Science Teacher, Liberty Memorial MS:

I am a science teacher teaching at a middle school and although the NCLB has brought about more accountability the issue on funding continues to pose a problem. We are not adequately funded to provide the extra help and adequately help our students that are so far behind and yet are expected to meet the standards and not get left behind. We as educators need the adequate funding in order to meet the accountability measures. The time that is invested as an educator to educate our students and their parents is not substantiated with adequate pay and compensation. Will we have the adequate funding for better pay for educators and funding to assist those students who are not meeting the standards and need the extra tutoring? The students are willing to show up for the extra, but as educators we are going over and beyond with little to no compensation. So many of my colleagues are opting to leave the education field because it feels as a no win situation.

David J. Hoff:

With our country facing a difficult financial dilemma, it’s difficult to see large numbers of dollars being available from the local, state, or federal governments.

President-elect Obama, though, has said that he would be interested in experimenting with innovative practices. Those include trying to find ways to pay successful teachers more or using community resources to improve students’ achievement.

Mr. Obama also appears to be committed to raising the stature of the teaching. Maybe by doing so he’ll create a profession that doesn’t feel like a “no win situation.”

Question from Chris Toy, Former Middle School Principal, currently a consultant and university instructor:

A couple observations and a question. The state of our economy and our status in the world seems to have little to do with what federal policy (NCLB) holds schools accountable for. The narrow range of skills and content assessed by NCLB leaves out key characteristics of all children, essentially mis-defining the “child” in NCLB. What do you see as the new administration’s understanding of the connections between educational reform and the future of our society in the second decade of the 21st century?

Alyson Klein:

At least in his rhetoric Obama has repeatedly made the connection between improving education and long-term economic health and global competitiveness. Folks who are trying to get more money for education in lean budget times are certainly using this line of argument.

Question from Andrea, teacher, Florida:

Does this mean that teachers will begin to earn more respect as well as money?

Michele McNeil:

Obama has made teacher recruitment and teacher quality a big part of his education platform. He has even dared to talk about merit pay, which may make the unions feel a bit uneasy. He wants to create college scholarships for students who go into teaching in high-needs schools or subjects. He wants to support local districts that want to embark on merit-pay projects, like the one in Denver. And he wants to create career ladder programs for teachers who take on additional duties. I think the takeaway is that Obama wants to transform the teaching profession by giving teachers more training, and more money—with the end result being, in part, more respect for the profession.

Question from Virginia McHugh, Executive Director, Association Montessori International/USA:

In his issue statement on education, President-Elect Obama mentions his plan to provide funds to school districts to create “portfolios” of successful alternatives to conventional education, citing Montessori schools as one of those alternatives. Do you think this administration will make it a priority to implement alternatives to conventional education on a public level within the first term?

Michele McNeil:

Virginia, In case anyone else wants to read it, I posted the link to the issue paper you’re talking about below. This is a good question. Obama made a big deal out of his proposal to double funding for “accountable” charter schools when he went to Dayton, Ohio a few weeks ago. He’s made it clear that he supports innovation in education, and will even put money behind it. I think this will be a priority in his first term—but I don’t think it will necessarily be a priority in the first year, given so many other pressing problems he’ll face. In addition, given the booming federal budget deficit, he’ll have to be choosy on which programs he chooses to spend money on.

Question from Dr. Judy Karpis, Former high school teacher, Miami-Dade County, Florida:

Qualified teachers are leaving the profession in droves because of poor morale and bad working conditions- what will the new administration do to attract and retain quality and motivated educators?

Michele McNeil:

Obama has a pretty lengthy plan to recruit and retain teachers. I posted the link below in case anyone wants to read more about it. The bottom line is Obama wants to get serious about recruiting by offering $25,000 “teaching service” scholarships to talented, high-performing teacher candidates who agree to teach in a high-need area or subject for at least four years. His $18 billion plan calls for expensive teacher residency programs, like one in Chicago, to train teachers for struggling, urban districts. He wants to keep good teachers in the classroom by giving them mentors, and by offering incentives for schools to offer paid common planning time so teacher can plan their lessons together. And, he wants to offer incentives for districts to develop “career ladder initiatives” that give teachers opportunities for advancement (and more money) by becoming mentors, acquiring more training, and boosting student learning.

Question from Michele Mazur, New teacher faciliator Syracuse(NY) City Schools:

We all know about attracting the best and brightest to teaching. Then we have to induct them to school culture. Quality induction programs from peer evaluative models to scaffolded support as the new teacher evolves into the system costs districts money. We know this professonal development and intial investment reaps rewards for the teacher to pass along student acheivement . It helps us counsel those who need to leave the profession. This avoids the long standing tenure issues. What are Pres.-elect Obama’s thoughts on supporting new teachers as they begin the profession?

David J. Hoff:

President-elect Obama is very interested in efforts to improve the quality of teaching. In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, he said: “I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability.”

In the Senate, he got an amendment to create teacher-residency programs. Those program recruit recent graduates without a degree in education and mid-career professionals ad give them a two-year classroom-based experience to prepare them to be teachers. His campaign platform touts those programs. So look for the new program to receive money in an Obama budget.

What’s more, he wants to create new pay plans that he believes would give teachers the incentive to stay in the profession.

I think you’ll see a lot of activity around teacher quality and issues related to it. Should be an exciting time for anyone in the teaching profession.

Question from Dr. Neil Schaal, Director of Tech, Weld Re3J:

I beleive that with the new members of congress and the president, that Washington will be more education friendly. Would you please ponder those changes that will effect education and if my presumption is correct on be more friendly?

Alyson Klein:

Education “friendly” is a subjective term. I’m not sure what sorts of policies you would consider “friendly” to education. For instance, in many peoples’ books, the outgoing president, George W. Bush has been very education friendly since he staked quite a bit of political capitol on the No Child Left Behind Act, a law he really believes in. Of course, others would argue that he hasn’t been very education friendly because he didn’t push for Congress to fund NCLB up to its authorized levels. It’s really all in your definition.

Question from Mel Vaillant, Math Facilitator, Stowers Elementary:

Would it be possible to have all states follow the same standards? We have such a transient society, it would make it much simpler for children who have to frequently move (military, etc.)

Michele McNeil:

It seems you’re getting at the very political, hot-button issue of common or national standards. I think there’s a growing consensus that if we’re going to have one accountability system (NCLB) then states should be expected to have the same academic standards. Of course, how do we get to a set of common standards, and who decides what they are? It seems the most likely path to that is going to come from a collection of states whose leaders get together and arrive at a common set of voluntary standards. Work is already underway by Achieve, and state policy groups representing the governors and the chief state school officers.

Question from Eme Pack, mom:

What would happen if education in America ceased being a national affair and began receiving, exclusively,the overseership and creativity of state and county officials? I’m thinking of accountability, funding, and quality. Thank you.

Michele McNeil:

Eme, That’s the way schools used to be -- much more local than they are now. States began to step in when they became unhappy with the quality of schools, and then the federal government stepped in with its Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which eventually became NCLB. I think the trend is toward less local control, and much more involvement on the national level. Some states are even pursuing the idea of common, voluntary standards.

Question from Tonya N. Jefferson, CEO, Jefferson Liberty Organizations, LLC:

All schools should have a Physical Education teacher, Music teacher, Art teacher, Librarian, and Media Specialist in addition to content area teachers to provide the enrichment that is needed for all students. There is great inequity in staffing, class size, and strategic planning in schools throughout the country. Can President-Elect Obama, his new Secretary of Education, and his/her staff work diligently to eradicate the aforementioned inequities?

Michele McNeil:

Tonya, There’s only so much the president, or even the U.S. Department of Education, can do on the issues you raise—which are very much determined by decisions made at the state and local levels. It’s important to keep in mind that the federal government still provides a mere 10 percent of education funding (though you wouldn’t know it with all of the attention on NCLB!) States and local governments fill in the rest, and that’s where most of the money comes from to pay teachers and deal with class size. If you look at Obama’s priorities, they center on expanding prekindergarten, beefing up the teaching profession, improving college affordability, and supporting options like charter schools. However, your question gets at the bigger issue of the narrowing of the curriculum that some perceive as a big problem under NCLB, with its emphasis on math and reading. I don’t really see Obama changing the fundamental direction of NCLB in regard to those subjects.

Question from N. Blake, Certified Teacher, Parent, Hillsborough County:

Whereas the intent behind NCLB was a good one, it precludes those children who are achieving at or above average in their classes. If this country wants to be on the cutting edge of technology, innovation and lead the world then it has to focus on ALL its students. The question not seemingly answered is, how do we enrich the education system and create challenge for those students with average or above average ability to excel beyond a highly structured curriculum? The gifted program was intended to address this issue but with budget cuts and no consistent policy towards educating the gifted child, these programs do not present a cohesive strong push towards achieving excellence nationwide. Problems with identifying gifted children from minority groups continue to be an issue. Additionally, what of the child that is average in class. Can they not be challenged as well to perform to a higher standard?

David J. Hoff:

Some people believe that changing accountability systems to reward schools for their students’ growth would address the problem you’re asking about. By requiring schools to show progress for all students, gifted students will get more attention.

Question from Tonya N. Jefferson, CEO, Jefferson Liberty Organizations, LLC (former DCPS ESL Teacher):

Can President-Elect Obama ensure that the revised No Child Left Behind legislation includes the verbiage that ALL children WILL receive a relevant, engaging, meaningful education? Would he be willing to transform public education via adopting School-Family-Community Partnerships and endorse The Community Agenda for America’s Public Schools @ We must return to the ”it takes a village” to educate children via organized, highly structured school-family-community involvement.

David J. Hoff:

On several occasions, Mr. Obama has said that NCLB has resulted in teachers focusing too narrowly on teaching to multiple-choice tests. I think he would endorse efforts to make education more “relevant, engaging, and meaningful.”

I don’t know if he would endorse the Community Agenda. He’s never been asked to do so, as far as I know. Question from Greg Nadeau, Manager, PCG Education:

Will an Obama administration increase use of growth model metrics in AYP accountability systems?

David J. Hoff:

For all of the controversy over NCLB, just about everyone agrees on growth models. Any NCLB reauthorization will include growth models. But that would have been true if Sen. McCain had been elected.

The real question is whether states have the data systems necessary to do growth models. Many will need significant upgrades to get the data they need to have effective growth models.

Question from Anna B. Epps, Special Education Teacher, Commonwealth of Virginia:

The subgroup assessment requirements set by NCLB have put quite a strain on teachers and administrators for children with disablilities and have singled out minorities. Will any of these mandates be reconsidered?

David J. Hoff:

Many people (particularly civil rights groups) like the subgroup requirements. They say the requirements are forcing teachers to pay attention to groups of students who previously had been overlooked.

I think the next version of NCLB will include requirements that all subgroups of students are making academic progress. But there may be changes made that will make it easier for schools to meet the goals for those subgroups. It certainly will be an important topic of debate when Congress turns to NCLB reauthorization.

Question from Mary Lynn Beckham, Special Education teacher, Jasper School District:

The NCLB Act does not seem to take into account the pressure placed on students with disabilities as well as on their teachers who are expected to assist them in their struggle to pass tests based on their grade placement levels. What changes in the Act would make it more fair for these students?

David J. Hoff:

It may be too early to answer your question. When lawmakers get into the fine-grained details of how to change the law, that’s certainly going to be addressed. But right now, people are thinking about big-picture issues.

Question from DIane Arnell:

What attention will be given to building a foundation for school success by linking literacy to math, science, and social studies?

Michele McNeil:

I just did a quick word search of Obama’s prek-12 plan and didn’t turn up the word “literacy,” which may be a sign. His plan recognizes the need to improve reading, especially at the middle school level, but I think the issue you raise will be something state and local leaders will pursue. Florida, for example, has a successful reading program that puts reading coaches into elementary and middle schools to address not just basic literacy, but how that crosses over into the other subjects you mentioned.

Question from Sara Pecherek:

What do you predict for the future of special education for children with disabilities?

Alyson Klein:

That was actually something that didn’t get talked about much on the campaign trail by anyone other than Gov. Sarah Palin. But, as I mentioned earlier, Obama has said he supports fully funding IDEA. We’ll see if the money is really there or not. My guess is that, at least initially, it won’t be....

Tina Trenkner (Moderator):

Hey Sara, EPE Research Center is also sponsoring a href="">a series of chats about the state of special education in the U.S. that may interest you. /27/special_education_in_america.html

Question from Danny Shoy, program officer, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation:

What is the likelihood that the recently authorized College Opportunity and Affordability Act (2008) will be funded?

Alyson Klein:

It’s hard to say where college affordability falls on the administration’s priority list, but my guess is that it’s pretty far up there, if only because young people, particularly college students, provided a lot of support and votes for Obama. Getting their support now may help the Dems gain the support of a generation of new voters (not to mention their baby boomer parents who sometimes foot the tuition bill) so politically, it’s a smart move, provided they can find the money somewhere. And Sen. Obama championed one of the major new K-12 program in the bill, teacher residencies, which allow colleges of education to partner with non-profits and high-need school districts to offer beefed-up field experiences to prospective teachers. He talked up those programs a lot on the campaign trail, so I’m guessing the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants will get a funding boost in Obama’s first budget, although the increase probably won’t be as steep as some would like.

Question from Cathy Grimes, education team leader, The Daily Press:

There is talk of shoring up infrastructure as a way to stimulate the economy. Are we hearing any talk of extending that to our aging school facilities across the nation? Or help with school transportation?

Bonus question: what do we hear about IDEA, alternative education and dropout recovery efforts?

Alyson Klein:

Short answer on your first question: Yes, Congress is considering a stimulus package, and yes, money for school facilities certainly may be included in it. In fact, the presidents of both the NEA and the AFT testified in support of a stimulus package on Capitol Hill last month. I’m not sure what you’re referring to with “alternative education.” Can you be more specific? IDEA is up for reauthorization next year, believe it or not. But I’d be pretty surprised if Congress actually got that done, my guess is that they’ll deal with NCLB first. Obama said he’d support full funding for IDEA on the campaign trail, but the money may not be there, at least initially. On dropout recovery, Obama’s campaign proposal calls for directing more resources to improving middle schools, where the seeds for dropping out are often planted. Obama has also proposed new money for redesigning schools and competitive grants for non-profits who have “evidence based” plans to address the drop out problem. As with everything else...we’ll see if the money is actually there or not...

Question from Judith Karpis, Administrative Officer, South Florida Workforce Investment Board:

What strategies will be employed to address the education needs of our troops returning from overseas (en mass) ?

Alyson Klein:

Great question. Earlier this year, Congress passed a new G.I. bill that significantly expanded education benefits for returning service members. If I’m remembering correctly, the funding was mandatory so it won’t be subject to the whims of the appropriations process.

Question from Kelly Wolf-Title 1:

What is going to happen to Title 1 with the passing of the Bailout Bill? A lot of our tax money will be going towards it and not education.

Alyson Klein:

That’s a great question. I, for one, would be very surprised if there were cuts to Title I, in spite of the bail out bill, after Obama campaigned on providing more funding for NCLB. But, given the current financial situation, I’m not sure folks should expect huge, immediate increases either. There may be some school construction funding though as part of a possible economic stimulus package.

Question from Ellen Nacik, District Program Facilitator/PBIS Minneapolis Public Schools:

What is the status of S. 2111: Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act which was introduced by Senator Obama over a year ago (A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools to increase implementation of early intervention services, particularly school-wide positive behavior supports)?

Would you discuss the implications of expanding the use of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) in terms of strengths and political barriers if it becomes law? Alyson Klein:

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, but hasn’t yet been considered. It’s fair to say though, that any proposal with Obama’s name on it is going to get serious consideration in Congress. I haven’t heard much about the politics surrounding this particular legislation, but my sense is that it’s likely to garner bipartisan support. The only problem might be getting any kind of substantial funding for this initiative.

Question from Bob LaVallee, The Finance Project:

Is there any indication that the new administration will support the Full Service Community Schools Act (HR 2323) or full service schools generally?

Alyson Klein:

That’s not something I heard Obama talk much about. But that bill is sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader and one of the most powerful lawmakers on the Hill. So I’d say it’s chances of being included in some sort of broader legislation, maybe the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind or a school facilities bill, are pretty good.

Question from Libby Doggett, Executive Director, Pre-K Now:

Newly elected governors from Delaware, Missouri, and North Carolina have proposed plans in support of early education. What are the chances that the Obama administration and next Congress will invest new federal dollars to help these and other governors keep their early education promises?

Alyson Klein:

That’s a great question. Some folks think that the new administration might actually tackle pre-K before it gets into NCLB. I wrote a blog post on this yesterday. You can read it here:

Question from Tina Trenkner:

There were a bunch of important state races that we should talk about. Some of the governors races were mentioned previously. What about the five states that elected new chief state school officers. Anything educators in those states should look out for from their new leaders?

Michele McNeil:

This is a pretty difficult time to be a state schools chief, let alone a new chief. Budget crunches mean less money for schools, continuing pressures from NCLB mean more schools are going to start entering the more severe penalty phases (which can mean more state ed. dept. involvement), and in the midst of all of this, state chiefs and departments are supposed to help improve student achievement. New and existing leaders will need to balance all of these things.

Question from Tina Trenkner:

Some states also had some major ballot initiatives that will affect education, like Maryland voters supporting slots and Oregon voters defeating initiatives on limiting bilingual education and tying teacher raises to student performance. Can you give us a digest of the major education-related state initiatives and their outcomes?

Michele McNeil:

By far, Maryland schools scored the biggest win on Tuesday night when the state’s voters approved slot machines -- which is expected to bring in about $660 million a year in general aid for schools. Arkansas created a state lottery to fund college scholarships. A lot of states have turned to gambling to help fund schools, so these are just the latest. Oregon voters rejected a measure to limit the number of years students can spend in “English immersion” programs. Nebraska and Colorado both considered bans on the use of affirmative action in schools and universities--Nebraska approved the ban, and last time I checked, the Colorado measure was still too close to call.

Question from Bernie Rhinerson, Chief District Relations Officer, San Diego Unified:

With the State of California facing a $2 billion mid-year cut to education and other states in similar situations, what is the possibility of asking the congress to consider a bailout program for states to preserve education funding?

Michele McNeil:

I think it’s very possible that Congress will include help to states in their next round of economic stimulus package(s). New York Gov. David Paterson asked Congress last month for help (he’s facing a huge budget deficit.) The National Governors Association (via Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican), also sent a letter Oct. 27 asking for help with Medicaid and infrastructure. Such help is not unprecedented -- if I’m remembering correctly, during the recession earlier in the decade Congress coughed up some money for the states. Though any federal aid wouldn’t likely be earmarked for education, any money will help ease general budget pressures,which will then help state education budgets.

Question from Tina Trenkner:

There’s been a little bit of coverage on California’s Proposition 8 in EdWeek. How did education tie into this issue and what should be expected now that Prop. 8 passed?

Michele McNeil:

This was a measure that, frankly, didn’t have much to do with education. It passed -- and now same-sex marriage is banned in California. Education got brought into the middle of the debate because proponents of the ban argued that schools might be required to teach about same-sex marriage if the measure failed. There’s a great analysis on how education factored into this controversial amendment in the LA Times. I’ve pasted the link below:,0,7748445.story Question from Doris N. Flax, Education Director of the LWV/AZ (League of Women Voters of Arizona):

What is President-Elect Obama’s definition of Charter Schools? What does he support? Does he support Charter Schools that are for-profit or those that are not-for-profit? Charter Schools that are intimately connected with a specific religion or church? Charter Schools that are subject to the same financial rules and reports as “regular” public schools? Charter schools that are subject to the same “Open Meeting Laws” for their Board Meetings? Charter Schools whose students have to take -- and REPORT -- state-mandated testing? Charter Schools that do have special programs for students with special needs -- or ones that do not even accept those children??? (HIS CONCEPT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS -- AND THOSE OF HIS ADVISORS MAKES A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN WHAT HE SUPPORTS!)

Alyson Klein:

President-elect Obama gave a big speech on this issue in September in which he pledged to double funding for charter schools from $200 million to $400 million. He said he was in favor of “responsible” charter schools and that he wants to hold for-profit charter schools accountable. But he hasn’t been specific on the issues you asked about.

You can read the full statement here:

Question from Kathy, Parent, Georgia:

Has President Elect Obama given any sign that he might consider choices for inter or intra-distict choice for ALL students and parents rather than just providing such opportunities for low socioeconomic students? Given the fact that all schools in any given school district are NOT equitable, nor do they offer the same opportunities for all children, has anyone given any feasible reason why all parents should not choose a school within a district they believe is better?

David J. Hoff:

I haven’t hear the president-elect speak on this issue. He is in favor of public charter schools, which could open up new opportunities for choice within districts.

I could add, however, that civil rights groups will be lobbying to require interdistrict choice as part of NCLB’s accountability system.

Question from Mark -NC:

In his statement on education, President-Elect Obama voiced his support for transitional bilingual education and ELL. I am interested in knowing his views on International Education and, more specifically, how can we in America create an educational environment that will enable our students to be successful global citizens?

Michele McNeil:

I just checked with my colleague, Mary Ann Zehr, who is EdWeek’s in-house expert on these issues. Here’s what she said: It’s true that Sen. Obama has voiced his support for transitional bilingual education, both in his plan for education and in his spoken words. Transitional bilingual education is a method where children are taught some subjects in their native language, usually Spanish, while learning English. The goal is to transition children to English, not necessarily for schools to help them continue to develop their native language. So some people in the field actually favor two-way immersion programs over transitional bilingual education, that aim to develop true bilingualism. While Sen. Obama publicly mentioned his support for bilingual education once months ago, he didn’t elaborate on his view. At one point in the campaign, Barack Obama spoke in favor of American children being multilingual rather than speaking only English. He said it would serve children well to learn Spanish. Some critics interpreted that remark to mean that Sen. Obama thought school children should be forced to learn Spanish, and indicated he was being unpatriotic by advocating for the Spanish language.

Question from Stan Blades, Federal Programs Coordinator, Lebanon Special School District:

In light of the challenges that come with educating English Language Learners and Special Education students, do you see any flexibility being proposed regarding accountability for these populations when NCLB is reauthorized?

David J. Hoff:

The NCLB accountability system will change in lots of ways. We know that students’ academic growth will be considered as a factor in making accountability decisions. That probably result in more reasonable goals being set for ELL students and students with disabilities.

Question from Bob LaVallee, The Finance Project:

Who do you like for Secretary of Ed?

David J. Hoff:

If you’re asking me to tell you who will be the secretary, the answer is: I don’t know; it’s too early to tell.

But, of all the names mentioned so far, I find Colin Powell to be the most interesting. He would give stature to the post and would raise the profile of education in the debate over our country’s future. Tina Trenkner (Moderator):

David has a blog post about who may be in the running, check it out here:

As names are being batted around for the ed secretary post, we’ll be following all of the speculation and offering analysis at our Campaign K-12 blog.

Question from Nicole Wundrow, VariQuest Visual Learning Tools:

1. With Obama pledging $16 billion to support NCLB, do we know which areas this will flow through to? 2. Will schools have more $$ to bring innovative technologies into their buildings? 3. When would the Obama $$ actually hit the schools where they could spend it?

Alyson Klein:

Actually, Obama’s plan called for an additional $18 billion a year for pre-K through 12, so not just NCLB. My hunch, though, is that there’s no way he’ll get that much, certainly not initially, given the cloudy fiscal forecast. Obama has made it clear that fixing the economy is his number one priority. In glancing over Obama’s plan, I don’t see any major initiatives on education technology, but that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be more resources for it. Congress is actually considering an economic stimulus package that may well include new money for school construction, and my guess is that it’s possible some resources for education technology could get rolled into that. To answer your last question, schools don’t get the federal money for the current fiscal year until July 1 for many programs and Obama’s first budget will be for the next fiscal year, 2010. So it would probably wouldn’t be until July 2010 that schools would start seeing increased federal money, assuming Obama and Congress decide to provide it.

Tina Trenkner (Moderator):

Michele McNeil has some additional info about state budgets and education: ... [b]udget cuts are getting deeper--at the state level, which is where most of the funding for schools comes from. I just saw a story that Michigan’s governor is going to have to make deep cuts--and may not be able to spare schools. In Florida, I just heard that the education chief is telling school superintendents to prepare for 2 percent cuts in January. These are pretty sizable cuts, and school districts can only absorb them without impacting students for so long. Expect districts to lay off--or not hire as many--teachers, thus increasing class sizes. Major purchases, such as technology, may be postponed. Districts may also have a harder time getting bond issues passed because voters will be reluctant to pay more taxes.

Tina Trenkner (Moderator):

We are out of time, but I’d like to thank David, Michele, and Alyson for taking the time to answer your questions today. Thank you for submitting your questions and I’ll post today’s transcript on shortly. And stay up-to-date with election news by visiting’s Campaign K-12 page. Thanks, and have a great weekend!

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