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Two Camps on Education Policy? Or Not So Much?

By Alyson Klein — June 17, 2008 1 min read
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So it looks like David Brooks’ commentary on Sen. Barack Obama’s education proposals generated quite a bit of debate among New York Times readers.

The paper published four letters-to-the-editor today responding to Brooks’ question about whether the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee falls into the education “reform” or “status quo” camps in the Democratic Party, as represented by the signers of a statement from the Education Equity Project and the “Broader, Bolder Approach to Education,” respectively. (You can read all about those statements, and Obama’s decision to essentially endorse both of them, in my colleague David Hoff’s Edweek story).

Some of the writers of the “broader, bolder” statement wrote in to dispute Brooks’ characterization of their coalition as defenders of the status quo. And Frank J. Russo, from Long Islanders for Education Reform, suggested that Brooks left out the Republican prescription for schools: expanding school choice. (He says Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would support vouchers for private schools, including parochial schools. Not sure his campaign has actually said that.)

And two of the letters, from Clifford Konold, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts and Stephen Weaver, a New Brunswick, N.J., resident, say it’s okay for Obama to straddle the line. In fact, Konold suggests there may not even be a line. He writes:

I’ve spent a career trying to improve learning in the schools, so I was a little confused when I couldn’t figure out which team I was on. I contacted several colleagues, including ones I often argue with, and they couldn’t locate themselves either in this portrait. Mr. Brooks has painted a clear border through a complex landscape and then concluded that Mr. Obama is wishy-washy because he has footprints on both sides.

What do you think? Is Obama trying to have it both ways by endorsing both statements? Or does it make sense to use ideas from both camps? Are there even two camps? Or is it more complicated than that, as Konold says?

Hit up the comments section.

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