Mashing-up NCLB -- Enough Already!

By Mark Lampkin (EDin08, Stronger American Schools)

Mashing-up NCLB -- Enough Already!

This week, The Huffington Post, Yahoo!, and Slate are co-sponsoring the first-ever online "candidate mashup," another way in which technology is helping us to access and judge the presidential candidates. Those Web sites asked users to submit questions for the Democratic candidates on any issue and then ranked the top three issues that Charlie Rose will ask them about. The videos will be shared on Friday, and users will be able to edit them to highlight differences among particular candidates on specific issues.

Education made the list, coming in as the # 3 issue right behind Iraq and health care. In fact, education beat out, in descending order, energy, the environment, the economy, immigration, terrorism, abortion, and gay marriage. Voters have long been ready to hear more from the candidates about education -- back in July, it was the number one issue about which voters submitted questions for the CNN/YouTube debate.


Here's the thing though -- I'm sick of the kind of education questions the candidates are being asked. Cheesy softballs (like the "Who was your favorite teacher?" bit from the CNN/YouTube Debate) or predictable check the box-type questions about the existing No Child Left Behind law do little to inform us of what these candidates plan to do about the crisis in America's schools.


Mostly I'm tired of hearing about No Child Left Behind. There's no real debate there for the Democratic presidential candidates. As Gov. Roy Romer points out at ED in '08, we've already heard that question asked of Democratic candidates a number of times and we know that they will all jump to attack NCLB.


I can already imagine the mashup Huffington readers will get to make from a NCLB question.


Charlie Rose: Do you support the existing version of the No Child Left Behind Law?

Candidate # 1: No.

Candidate # 2: Certainly not. I blame the Republicans. Down with NCLB.

Candidate # 3: Hell no! I hate it! Terrible law. Here's what I love: teacher's unions!

Candidate # 4: NCLB is a disgrace. Too many children continue to be left behind, we don't have qualified teachers in the classrooms, and more testing isn't going to fix any of that.

Candidate # 1: That's what I meant to say.

Candidate # 5: The Law-That-Must-Not-Be-Named must be destroyed!


Candidate # 6: NCLB is worse than Britney Spears at the VMAs.


Charlie Rose: Time to move on.


Candidates #7 and # 8: We never get to talk.

But Americans already know that NCLB isn't working in its present state. Consider the facts:

Six thousand kids dropped out of school yesterday, and another six thousand will drop out today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.


Seventy percent of our 8th graders aren't proficient in reading, and by the end of 8th grade, what passes for the U.S. math curriculum is two years behind the math being studied by 8th graders in other countries.


And I'm not just talking about minority students or low-income schools -- out of 29 countries participating in a 2003 assessment, America's 15-year-olds ranked 24th in math; 24th in problem-solving; 18th in science; and 15th in reading. Even America's top math students rank 23rd out of 29 countries when compared with top students elsewhere in the world.


While the candidates pander, founder, and stomp up and down about NCLB, we are losing our economic foothold to China, India, and Singapore.


Education issues aren't only about teachers and schools, test scores and politics. They're about families, income mobility, job security, economic competitiveness and making sure our kids have the skills they'll need to face the global challenges that are already rising to meet them.


This online debate, the first of its kind is an opportunity for voters to cut and paste, to choose what they want to hear about and who they want to hear it from. But that's going to be awfully hard if all they get is more of the same, and none of it good. Let's cut the lip-service about NCLB and mash-up some answers to questions that matter.

From Marc's Blog in the HuffingtonPost

Other News from EDin08


WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Kanye West releases his latest CD today; titled Graduation, Strong American Schools' ED in '08 campaign announced that the education-reform Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring West was one of the top 20 most viewed YouTube videos last week.  In the PSA, West brings attention to the low graduation rate of African American and Hispanic students and invites viewers to get involved through ED in '08.  In addition to the 130,000 viewers of the public service announcement, the ED in '08 campaign has received more than 110,000 visitors to its website.  For more information about ED in '08's public service campaign featuring Kanye West, log onto  The PSA can be found at: 


Kanye Gets It  (Mark Lampkin on Kanye West)

Sunday night I watched Kanye West's killer performance on the MTV video music awards, and now I'm watching the number of views climb for his new public service announcement for us here at the ED in 08 campaign. 

Kanye West has made it. He has achieved the kind of success in his chosen field that we all wish we could achieve, and with a new album dropping today, he isn't showing any sign of slowing down.

So he could spend his time, his money, his effort any way he wants, and yet he's choosing to put his name behind a great cause – getting kids to stay in school, to get an education, to prepare themselves for whatever next step they choose in life … whether it's more schooling, a job, whatever.  The important part is making sure teens get to make that choice.

Half of all black and Latino high school students never finish school. Kanye can speak to those kids … and because of his fame, he can speak to a much broader audience, including the presidential candidates who can make something happen. They can make our schools an issue … just like Kanye is making an issue of staying in school.

He's putting his name and his image behind ED in '08 – helping to make our schools and America's students an issue in the 2008 presidential election. Kanye gets it – I just hope the presidential candidates (and voters) do too.

To learn more about the Kanye West Foundation, visit To learn more about Strong American Schools, log onto


Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a nonpartisan campaign supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation promoting sound education policies for all Americans. SAS does not support or oppose any candidate for public office and does not take positions on legislation.