This is the fourteenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

In keeping with the start of a new school year, the topic of this week’s post is on education (I apologize the post is a day late, due to Labor Day).

The key similarities and differences, as far as I can tell, between McCain and Obama (source is CNN’s Election Center):

  1. Both candidates are in support of the overall goals of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), though Obama says the law has “significant flaws.” Neither agrees NCLB is sufficient in terms of education reform. Both support recruiting and rewarding high quality teachers.
  2. McCain is advocating for more “choice” in terms of education, including more charter schools and voucher programs. He also is advocating for expanding “virtual learning” through funding of “virtual schools” and online courses.
  3. Obama is in support of expanding early childhood education, including the investment of $10 billion a year to do so. He also is in support of providing substantial assistance in helping students pay college tuition. If I understand correctly, a big part of this assistance is in exchange for public service.

I’d be curious to hear what everyone thinks. I’m particularly interested in the voucher debate, especially in light of the fact that last year voters in Utah (arguably the most conservative state in the nation) voted in favor of a referendum that overturned the Utah legislature’s voucher program. Voters opposed the vouchers in every county. Although Obama is theoretically open to the possibility of viable voucher programs, he has opposed voucher programs because of the way they would hurt the public schools. This same argument, as far as I can tell, is what made the biggest appeal to Utah voters. In other words, I saw the Utah rejection of vouchers as an ideological vote, not one concerning quibbles about policy (for most voters, anyway). In this respect, it appears to me that Utah voters are more aligned, ideologically, with Obama than McCain.

Your thoughts?

Next week: Political Corruption

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