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ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

You Don’t Need a Weatherman....

By Alyson Klein — October 06, 2008 1 min read
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To know which way the McCain campaign is hoping the political wind will blow, when it comes to the story of the Obama-Ayers connection.

Sen. John McCain’s campaign is still hoping that Obama’s connections with William Ayers, an education professor and the co-founder of a radical 60’s underground organization, the Weathermen, will make voters think twice about putting Obama in the White House. But recent news accounts show that critics’ accounts of their connection are greatly exaggerated.

In case you missed it, the New York Times this weekend published a front page story that basically says that Sen. Barack Obama and Ayers worked together on Chicago’s portion of the Annenberg Challenge, a national school reform initiative financed by the late philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg. But Ayers hasn’t been a mentor, patron, or policy adviser to Obama.

A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

But that doesn’t mean the McCain campaign is letting the story die.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s running mate, said this weekend that Obama is “someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

CNN did a fact check of the statement and came up with this:

Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.

If the campaigns spent as much time discussing actual, relevant education issues as they have been spent so far talking about Ayers, we might actually have a really clear idea of where the candidates planned to take education policy if they were elected to the White House.

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