April 25, 2007
The NYT reports today that billionaires Bill Gates & Eli Broad are going to spend $60 Million to bring education reform to the forefront of the 2008 presidential race. That's about 3x what was spent to "Swift Boat" John Kerry in 2004. The Ed in '08 initiative won't endorse a candidate (they can't as a charitable group), but the NYT reports they will attempt to push three key issues to the forefront of the education debate: "a call for stronger, more consistent curriculum standards nationwide; lengthening the school day and year; and improving teacher quality through merit pay and other measures."
The initiative launches nationwide with a web site (and blog), radio spots and print ads such as this one showing a student writing "A histery of Irak" and the text "Debating Iraq is tough. Spelling it shouldn't be." That's a creative way to compete with, indeed relate to, headlines coming from the middle east. The effort really appears to be nonpartisan (or at least bipartisan), being comprised of corporate executives and former national figures from both the Democrat and Republican parties. It will be interesting to see how Republican candidates struggle with the idea of a national curriculum, Democrat candidates square-off with teacher unions over the idea of merit pay, and how parents will respond to a national effort to extend the school day and year.