THE BLOG

Thanks to Biden, Ryan for Not Talking About Education

10/12/2012 09:44 am ET | Updated Dec 12, 2012

I have always said there are three signs that you are growing old. One is loss of memory and I can't remember the other two.

That memory problem was plaguing me again tonight as I tried to remember if I had taken my blood pressure medication this morning. I slipped on the sleeve and checked -- 118 over 72. apparently I had taken it.

My heart rate was at 77, which meant the old pacemaker was working.

With those preliminaries out of the way, I was ready to watch another political debate. Even with all of the precautions taken, I knew there was one thing that could possibly cause the old blood pressure to spike and throw the pacemaker off the beat.

So I turned to another precautionary measure, closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that the word "education" would never cross the lips of Joe Biden or Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate.

Ah, the power of prayer! Except for a mention by the vice president about the Ryan plan's calls for cut in educational spending, the word was not mentioned Thursday night.

It is not that I don't think education is a subject worthy of national debate -- it is a critical issue in our society -- but it has been so botched by our two major political parties that I cringe every time education is mentioned in a political speech or debate.

The Republicans pushed No Child Left Behind, a nightmarish plan that was doomed from the beginning, and to show that Democrats, too, can play at that game, the Obama administration created Race to the Top, a plan which is supposedly designed to create "reform" (does anyone remember when that word actually meant something?) in education, but instead rewards those who want to fire teachers, close schools or pay teachers based on the scores students record on poorly written standardized tests.

You know how bad the national education debate is when the NEA (and I am a member) voted one year early to endorse President Obama for re-election despite the fact that he is the one pushing Race to the Top and he is the one who appointed Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education, which is something like appointing Todd Akin to be chairman of Planned Parenthood.

So those who consider education to be a major issue when deciding how to cast their presidential ballot (and you can count me in that number) are forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

Do we want to vote for Mitt Romney and open the door for public money going to private schools or do we vote for President Obama and open the door for everyone to wish they were going to private schools because we are going to gut everything that has made public schools the gateway to middle class success.

Maybe we will be lucky and one of the presidential candidates will come up with workable plans to combat poverty, drug abuse, violence, broken homes, sexual abuse, child abuse, and all of the other problems that must be dealt with if education in American is to reach its goals.

Perhaps that is a bit much to hope for. After all, it is much easier to blame all of education's ills on these thousands of "bad teachers" who are supposedly occupying our classrooms.

So next Tuesday, I will dutifully take my blood pressure medication, check my heart rate, and say another silent prayer.

I don't want to hear education mentioned again in the debates until the day when we find a candidate who has a clue.