John Edwards and the Endless Education Agenda

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I’m hopping from campaign to campaign in Iowa this week. Yesterday, I followed John Edwards as he made three stops. I discuss the first two in my article for the website published earlier today. I’ll add a quick note about the third here.

The third event was a forum on education at the University of Northern Iowa. Edwards talked about a number of things: paying teachers more, finding ways to attract stellar college students to the profession, the silliness of No Child Left Behind’s “cheap” standardized tests, fixing the student loan system, and on and on.

What he didn’t mention, though, is his nearly endless list of initiatives, programs, and plans.

There’s the national “Great Promise” partnership (quality education for every four-year-old in the country); the national “Smart Start” program (expanded health services for children under five); and the “Great Schools” initiative (“build or expand 1,000 successful schools”). The last shouldn’t be confused with Edwards’ “Second Chance” schools (havens for high school dropouts). And let’s not forget the “School Success Fund,” which Edwards may or may not have been referencing when he spoke of his plan for “educational swat teams.”

He did mention his National Teacher University (“a West Point for teachers”) by name, and he mentioned his College Opportunity Agenda (aka the national “College for Everyone” initiative), without mentioning its formal title(s). So credit where it’s due.

The man has a million ideas on education, many I didn’t list here because they don’t have kitschy names. I’m making fun of Jedwards because of his program-for-everything approach that so neatly fits into the stereotype of American liberals. But it’s better than the Republicans minimalist approach. Rudy Giuliani is instructive. The education platform on his website is 67 words and boils down, more or less, to the phrase “strong supporter of school choice.”

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