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You Choose '08: Education

By Steve Grove

Head of News and Politics

Education is an issue in every election, because it is rooted in every community. However, in national elections we often find educational issues dwarfed by broader concerns - security, the economy, and healthcare. Here on YouTube we've seen the debate over education in America thrive - several advocacy groups have used the site to draw awareness to the issue and several YouTubers have pushed "upload" to have their say.

The EDinO8 campaign, funded by the Gates Foundation, started a YouTube channel to spearhead their online advocacy for keeping educational issues on the agenda of the presidential candidates. This video is their general overview of the current state of education in the United States—and it's not the most favorable report card. (In a UNICEF survey done in 2002, the U.S. ranked 18 out of 24 countries in the area of public education). The National Education Association's YouTube channel, a member of our nonprofit program, argue that better public schools are a basic right for every child. To highlight their concerns, they uploaded several questions for the presidential candidates to a special channel called Education Votes. On the news side, Katie Couric has used her editorial "Notebook" series to cite equally troubling statistics - this video challenges teachers and parents to take it up a notch.

Yet while few would dispute the need for educational reform, coming up with solutions is a more difficult task. In this video, a college student who plans on becoming a high school history teacher makes the case for school vouchers; only by expanding "school choice," he argues, will the state of education in the U.S. improve. Others, however, feel that the free market is the source of all the trouble. Filmmaker and college student Lucas Brown Eyes argues that the privatization of student loans and rising tuition costs are turning college students into modern day slaves, robbed of choice and saddled with debt.

Of course no other issue has stirred up more debate in recent years than the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2001. This video from
seeprogress argues while that No Child Left Behind has its flaws, it should nevertheless be reauthorized and reformed, not scraped away entirely. Meanwhile, taking the opposite stance--and a very different approach--this video from JonathanAndrewSmith
uses college humor to highlight and skewer the policy's shortcomings.

And finally, to put the issue in perspective, beyond policy debates and partisan politics, watch this video from freesouljah, who reminds us that our greatest natural resource isn't oil—it's our children.


Steve G.