WILL OBAMA BE MORE AGGRESSIVE ON EDUCATION ISSUES?

TNR's Josh Patashnik has an interesting rundown of Barack Obama's commitment to education reform. Patashnik focuses mostly on Obama's willingness to buck the teachers' unions on merit pay. He also suggests that Clinton hasn't released as comprehensive of an education platform, but in actuality, we know quite a bit about how the Democrats differ on these issues. Here's an overview. In short, Obama is open to both private school choice and linking teacher pay to standardized test scores. Clinton outright rejects private and parochial school vouchers, and her merit pay plan calls for extra money to be distributed when an entire school improves its performance. It is Clinton who has the more aggressive plan on expanding access to preschool education, while Obama wants to provide four-year college scholarships to students who promise to become public school teachers.

All that said, I disagree with Patashnik's suggestion that, once in office, Obama would prioritize education more than Clinton would. That could be true, but there's not a lot of evidence for it from where we stand. Neither Obama nor Clinton has injected education into the race in a deeper way than occasionally criticizing No Child Left Behind and promising to overhaul it. Supporting new ideas in white papers doesn't necessarily equal a commitment to pushing them through Congress.

--Dana Goldstein

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