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Opinion: Education as a Campaign Issue Does Not Inspire Voters

Opinion: Education as a Campaign Issue Does Not Inspire Voters

Yesterday, six GOP presidential hopefuls sat down with the education advocate and founder of The 74, Campbell Brown. Each of them spent 45 minutes discussing hot topics in education with Brown and their plans for education, should they be elected.

But according to Joy Resmovits of The Los Angeles Times, despite the recent spotlight on education, elevating it to a front-and-center presidential campaign issue is a difficult feat for several reasons.

"Parents tend to think of education as an issue about their schools, which is not under direct presidential control. Education debates can often sound negative, and are filled with political minefields around teachers and their unions. And previous attempts to raise the issue’s profile have fallen short," Resmovits said.

Despite reducing the federal government's role in education being a heavy talking point of GOP party members, in actuality their role is already minimal.

"Schools in the United States are run by local school boards or mayors, several layers removed from the federal government and the politicians who vie to run it — only 8% of school funding comes from Washington, D.C. American parents are deeply connected with their own schools, but have less of a tie to the national education system as a whole, an interest that could translate into presidential voting preferences," she said.

Furthermore, changes in education policy take a while — more than a single president's term — to see tangible, reliable results in student performance.

"The Obama administration, for example, has tried to remedy the faults of the punitive No Child Left Behind Act by allowing states to get out from under its most stringent requirements by issuing waivers that trade in the law’s strings for a state’s buy-in to certain preferred reforms, such as tying teachers’ evaluations partially to student test scores." If Congress does not agree on a bipartisan re-write currently in the works to replace NCLB, the waivers that Obama issued currently acting as law will be subject to the next president's hand, essentially enabling the possibility to start from scratch, the article said.

For this reason, parents are weary of giving interest to education as a presidential issue because they don't believe that the future president will have much of an impact on their child's education.

But education advocates like Brown will keep pushing.

"Brown thinks this time will be different. 'This cycle, there’s a lot happening that puts it front and center,' she said, 'This election has the potential to be much more about education than previous ones, because you have candidates who understand the influence it has.'"

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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