Education

Clinton, Obama Ramp up Opposition to NCLB

April 16, 2008 1 min read

Last month, I channeled Andy Warhol and predicted that in the future, everyone would be blogging. The folks at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation are making me look prophetic. This week, they launched “Flypaper.”

In one of the early posts, Fordham VP of Just About Everything Michael J. Petrilli parses a paragraph from my story about the American Federation of Teachers’ campaign efforts on behalf of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. I paraphrased a comment from AFT Pennsylvania President Ted Kirsch, saying that he believes the New York senator is “more emphatic about overhauling” NCLB than Sen. Barack Obama. Petrilli points out that Kirsch understates it, pointing out that Clinton is “determined to kill” NCLB. He suggests the AFT has been wishy-washy on the law.

Consider the context of the Kirsch’s remarks. He was discussing the AFT’s decision to endorse Clinton back in October. Since then, both Clinton and Obama have ramped up their rhetoric against NCLB. After spending months in Iowa and New Hampshire in town hall meetings, they concluded that bashing NCLB is a good applause line and could be winning votes. In The New Republic recently, Josh Patashnik make the same point, noting that Obama has begun to sound “more and more like a traditional liberal Democrat” on NCLB and other K-12 issues.

Semantics aside, here’s what I found interesting about the story: Members of AFT and other unions that have endorsed Clinton don’t appear to be focused on NCLB or any other issues. The Democratic primary in Pennsylvania appears to be a personality contest.

Other NCLB-related stories from the April 16, 2008, issue of Education Week:
Papal Visit Spurs Plea for ‘Saving’ Catholic Schools (also see my comments on the Fordham report detailed in the story)
Districts Cultivate Common Ground on English-Learner Curriculum
Ed. Dept. Chided on Graduation Oversight

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