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Last night at the Presidential debates Obama described education as our top economic issue. All politicians say education is a top priority, but I've never heard Obama refer to it as the top economic issue. This is interesting because my recent poll of 500 economists listed education as the top economic issue, and I think that surprised a lot of people. We know that Obama is heavily influenced by data, and it's a certainty that members of his campaign saw the results of the survey. Did it have any impact on his message about education?

In my September 17th post about my survey of economists, I said, "We know that kids do best in school when their parents are managing the process right. If either candidate had a plan for educating parents on how to help their kids succeed in school, I think that would be compelling." In Obama's exchange about education he made a point of emphasizing the role of parents in improving the performance of their kids in school. I don't recall hearing that before. And as obvious as that might seem, McCain didn't mention it in his remarks about fixing education.

Obama's comments stopped short of where I think the government needs to be in terms of teaching parents how to coach their kids to be good students. I think parenting is a skill that can be taught, especially in regard to education. Most of the countries that kick the United States' butt in student academic performance spend less per student. That suggests that the biggest point of leverage is at home. And it passes the sniff test, because the top students in any class generally have parents that are actively steering the ship.

Do you think the Dilbert survey of Economists had any impact on Obama's message about education? Or is it just a coincidence?
 
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Oct 20, 2008
500 economists or 500 hacks?
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2008
I'm starting to feel that the American education system isn't really as bad as it might seem. Yes, we do badly on international comparisons, but those are based basically just on how well students do on tests. I think our system is less good at teaching students to pass tests, but better at teaching kids other skills like how to do independent research.
 
 
Oct 17, 2008
Yes.

I was watching the debate, and when Obama mentioned the role of parents in education, I thought to myself, "Whoa. That's a weird comment. I wonder where he got that idea?". I did not realize that you had mentioned that beforehand here. However, I did recognize it as DISTINCTLY different from anything any of the politicians EVER say.

So, yes, I do think that came directly from your site.

I'm sure he has aides who read this website, you are a genius, they would be stupid not to.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2008
What they need to do is get some celebrities and people from "reality" TV shows to tell parents that they need to pay attention to their children. It would be like government sponsored commercials. I mean people need celebrities to tell them to get out and vote, stop smoking or what clothes are in style. They could tell them about the PTA, wouldn’t that be grand. Maybe then parents will actually be involved.

This is one of the irritating things about the state of affairs in the United States, people who are not involved in their children’s lives.

As someone whom has been trying for many years to have children, it is frustrating to see parents who are uninvolved in their children’s lives or unappreciative of the challenges and rewards of being a parent.

There is only a limited amount of time in children lives before the outside world has more influence in your child’s life than you do. Take the time you have now, as it may be the only meaningful impact you have on the world, your entire life.
 
 
Oct 17, 2008
On the subject of investing in education (among other things), this was a very interesting interview a while back.

http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/pub_display.cfm?id=3278

The subject of the interview is James Heckman, a winner of the Nobel prize in Economics and a professor at the University of Chicago.

The interview is 2005 but I highly recommend it.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2008
If a poll of economists influenced anybody, it's much more likely that it's the annual poll done by The Economist.

http://tinyurl.com/5x5384

As a reader of The Economist I'm surprised you didn't know this was coming out.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2008
If a poll of economists influenced anybody, it's much more likely that it's the annual poll done by The Economist.

http://tinyurl.com/5x5384

As a reader of The Economist I'm surprised you didn't know this was coming out.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2008
Sorry about that, again without the unicode quotes and symbols.

Take one big (very big) step backwards; you know, trees through the forest sorta thing and realize how critically sad the situation is. You have to survey economists to get constructive criticism and suggestions regarding parenting, education, and raising children AND then expect that a presidential candidate should, spread the word, pass the message, in a televised debate once every 4 years!! Friends and citizens THAT is a sorry state of affairs indeed!
 
 
Oct 17, 2008
children learn better when they want to. its more than just parental involvement though that does help them want to.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
I hope he came to the conclusion all by himself, it is after all common sense.

I thnk the reason he stopped short on teaching parenting skills is because it would have cost him votes.
American voters do not want to hear that anything is expected from them. Goodness, expecting them to take responsibility! The very idea.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
Something to consider is that most of the economists you studied were left-leaning and probably academics. Since Obama is left-leaning as well, it's not too surprising that he'd know of the survey results. He may know some of these economists, or they may be second-hand acquaintances. (After all big deal Bill Ayers is an academic that Obama is acquainted with.)
Seeing as how economic issues are a big issue in this election right now, he may have even asked some economists himself for buy-in, likely of the same political persuasion for the most part. Maybe even some of them participated in this study, and may have referred him to it. In any case, seeing as how the study mostly polled Democrats, the information from the survey gives him information from reasonably-well educated about issues that actually influence the election and the nation together, and that most of the base will likely accept.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
No, I don't think Obama is listening to you. Your survey mentions education as a top issue by economists, but economists value education because they are in the business world, and education makes them complaint little workers. Obama, on the other hand, is better at making vague promises about education. I don't think those two issues are related.

But to test out your theory, you should do a post on what your proposal for education would be. See if Obama follows your post in his campaign.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008

Obama has been lauding the Harlem Children's Zone for years. Reaching out to parent to help them learn how to support their children is a critial part of the project.

So, this is not new on Obama's part. It predates your survey quite a bit.

Does that make it a coincidence? No, not at all. There's a common causality, based on real data -- not surveys of economists to determine education policy.

Real data on education, based on good longitudinal studies, have shown that this approach works.
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2008
"Obama's comments stopped short of where I think the government needs to be in terms of teaching parents how to coach their kids to be good students."

More socialism. Education is not the business of the government. Training parents is not the business of the government.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
Scott you need to have all your comments on one page, Im sure most people are like me, internet use is timed so we copy and paste your blog plus comments into word, 1 page copied is less then however many pages for comments.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2008
http://www.hcz.org/
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
People have made many good points.

Do other countries get to pick the best students or are we rating things not only with their best, but their disruptive and more difficult children to educate. My feeling is that at some point our public resources that were
directed at excellence have been moved to helping the kids with issues as close to the "norm" as possible.
Though as I understand our education laws and legislated goals that is what it is suppose to do, right or wrong.

My experience is now that if people feel they have a child with academic aptitude and they can make the finances work, they find a private school that caters to their child's aptitude.

When "standards" are measured, are these kids included?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2008
Obama has been referring on and off to education, and parental role in educating children, for a while now (though i don't remember him calling it the "top economic priority" before...) . Like for some months. Like to the point where Rev. J.Jackson wanted to do nasty things to him, while on live mike.... remember?



 
 
Oct 16, 2008
rebelwoclause wrote:

"Is it just me, or do people routinely forget that we are one of the few countries that actually educates, or attempts to educate, EVERY SINGLE CHILD?

There is a reason our test scores are bad by comparison, and while some of it can be attributed to everything said above, I have to believe that it is because the countries beating us selectively educate the best and the brightest."

I think that you'll find that virtually all Western countries--UK, France, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, etc etc etc--teach virtually all the kids. The reason that American kids get trounced is, unfortunately, not that the Americans are so egalitarian in providing education. However, it could have something to do with an American tendency to take really bad news and find a way to make it sound good...."Hey Ma!! I got a C!!"
 
 
Oct 16, 2008
Of course it had an impact. Every politician is looking for an edge, to ignore any source of data would be folly. McCain probably had access to it too, but ignored it because it smacked of government entering the home, which is only permissible for republicans if they enter through the bedroom window.
 
 
 
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