Debating Education

Tonight is the last debate between President Bush and Senator John Kerry and it’s the one that is supposed to shed some light on domestic policy. Though it’s not a major issue in this campaign, let’s hope that education at least makes a cameo. And, let’s hope that the questions go beyond the scripted back and forth about funding for No Child Left Behind. Toward that end, here, from deep inside the Eduwonk Policy Vault are some suggestions:

For President Bush:

This week The New York Times editorialized that, “[The U.S. Department of Education] lacks the capacity, courage and leadership to do its job.” Do you agree or disagree with that assessment? If you agree, what do you plan to do about it? And if you disagree, what specific evidence can you offer to the contrary?

Can you cite any specific mistakes that your administration has made implementing No Child Left Behind? Is there anything you would do differently?

Your private school voucher initiative in Washington, D.C. does not include provisions to ensure public accountability, data reporting, and transparency along the lines of what you insisted be included in the No Child Left Behind Act for public schools. Can you explain why this discrepancy exists?

White suburban Republicans are very leery of school vouchers, why do you think that is? Do you think their reticence has ramifications for other educational issues?

And of course, after almost four years in office, Mr. President is our children learning?

For Senator Kerry:

Aside from funding, what other specific problems do you see with how the Bush Administration has handled No Child Left Behind? What would you do differently?

What role should testing play in education policy? What role would data play in policymaking decisions in your administration?

Majorities of African-American and Hispanic voters support school vouchers, why do you think that is? What does this mean for education policy going forward?

You went to small schools yourself. In your view how does school size relate to school culture and what are the advantages and disadvantages of smaller schools?

For Both Candidates:

What role does funding play in education policymaking?

What role should parental choice play in education?

What choice initiatives would your/does your administration support and why?

Our nation has a teacher quality problem that disproportionately affects poor and minority students. What, specifically, will your administration do/is doing to address this?

What, in your view, is the cause our causes of the achievement gap in education? What can national policymakers do to address it?

Alternatively, if none of these devil your egg, Mr. Sun proposes a whole new debate structure with a lot of promise.

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