Accountability Questions Loom for Next President

October 24, 2008 1 min read
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In the word cloud I linked to yesterday, I noted that NCLB and the issues of standards, assessment, and accountability were overlooked in Tuesday’s debate between education spokeswomen for the McCain and Obama campaigns. (Here’s a link to video from the debate and the panel I moderated after it.)

Two panelists in the post-debate analysis explained why.

“There’s a lot of ambivalence about No Child Left Behind,” said Joe Viteritti of Hunter College. “People seem to like standards, but they’re not crazy about testing, and it’s hard to separate them.”

The debaters mentioned many of the issues in the law, said Gene Hickok, the deputy secretary of education in President Bush’s first term. But neither campaign wanted to be too attached to it.

Even though the law passed with a “strong bipartisan” support in 2001, Hickok said “both parties are running away from it a bit.”

You can see both of their statements in the YouTube video below.

Here’s what I have to add: The candidates aren’t talking about standards and accountability because they don’t know what they’re going to do with it. Sure, both say they would change AYP to measure students’ academic growth; that’s what just about everybody says. But they’re not talking about national standards, how to improve struggling schools, or how much money they’ll spend on the law. Those are issues to avoid in the campaign season because there’s little consensus on them. And with voters not concerned about education, the candidates don’t need to answer those tough questions now. But, as Viteritti says, the next president will be forced to answer them.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.


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