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How Many Democratic Education Coalitions Does It Take To Hurt Obama's Chances?

McCain's efforts on other fronts may be embarrassingly bad (and this one on education may in the end be for naught), but McCain's campaign really put the screws to the Obama folks last week and today by endorsing the Klein/Sharpton platform. 

Amd_john_mccainIt's a ridiculous, which is to say brilliant, move.  It makes McCain look active on education issues -- see quotes below -- and puts Obama in a jam between the union people who support Bigger, Bolder and the reformistas who support Klein/Sharpton -- during the weeks leading up to the convention. 

Brilliant.  No matter that McCain has no real commitment to education.  No matter that someone from Obama's campaign said that he'd support both platforms (see June 17 post here).  No matter that Obama's record, such as it is, is better on education than McCain's. 
In reality, Obama probably does support both positions -- they're not totally exclusive -- but doing so, or declining to pick one or the other, will either way look bad.

This, by the way, is why so many campaign people hate education.  Two largely Democratic education groups both simultaneously rolled out dueling manifestos -- for a long time oblivious each to the other and then unwilling or unable to work together to push for something everyone could live with.  Thus showing what a leadership vacuum there is on education, and creating room for McCain to step in and play each off the other. 

It won't lose Obama the election, but it certainly isn't helping him.  The only upside is that it's made education more of an issue than it otherwise would have been.  Maybe EDINO8 is behind it all.

Previous Posts: 
What Will The Platform Say About Education?

Varied Responses To McCain Speech

Obama, Sharpton, & The NEA
Obama Stakes Out Bold New Education Position(s)
Which Manifesto Would Obama Have Signed?

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This has an "upside" only insofar as it can create a more constructive national discussion about school improvement. If, on the other hand, the candidates are forced to choose sides in an artificial debate--"it's the schools alone" vs. "it's out-of-school factors alone"--then I see very little upside to this latest development. Especially in an election year, the media love to exaggerate such unproductive either/or debates--to the detriment of rational discussion

This has an "upside" only insofar as it can create a more constructive national discussion about school improvement. If, on the other hand, the candidates are forced to choose sides in an artificial debate--"it's the schools alone" vs. "it's out-of-school factors alone"--then I see very little upside to this latest development. Especially in an election year, the media love to exaggerate such unproductive either/or debates--to the detriment of rational discussion

thanks for your comment, claus --

often the press and others do what you're describing, but not in this case i don't think.

i mean, it's not entirely an artificial debate, is it, if two groups come out with two different agendas, none of them but one i think signing both petitions?

that's just not a media creation, or an unimportant thing. if there was more agreement, or more of an overlap, then why didn't more people sign onto both petitions?

It seems to me from what I have read so far that McCain would give us more of the same thing as we have now (NCLB). Obama is probably going to do the same thing as McCain, but he will pretend to support change to console the hardcore groups opposed to NCLB.

NCLB is working so neither candidate can really afford to be against it in the public arena without appearing sold out to special interests.

You make a good point, Alexander. The tone of the two statements is certainly different, and they emphasize different points--though, as you note, they are not mutually exclusive. My concern is that, if the debate filters down into the broader national conversation about education, a vote for out-of-school supports will be counted as a vote against robust school improvement measures, and vice-versa. Especially as proponents of both statements become more heated, spectators might feel like they're faced with a false choice.

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