Half-term on the Obama trail

24th October 2008, 1:00am


Half-term on the Obama trail


For most teachers, half-term is a chance to put their feet up. But Will Glover hopes to do something rather more ambitious - help influence the course of American political history.

The head of economics at the independent St George's College in Weybridge, Surrey, is leaving for the US tomorrow to continue working as a consultant for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

With polling day on November 4, he will be playing his part in the fevered final stages of the campaign as Mr Obama, the favourite, takes on the Republican John McCain.

The Scot, who has strong links to America, will be knocking on doors in New York State and neighbouring Pennsylvania to drum up support for Mr Obama.

He will also be speak to American students about the campaign to counter political apathy.

"It's going to be a great experience," he said. "The idea is to bring back as much of it as I can so pupils here can benefit.

"I have already been to one local college to talk about my plans. I will visit other schools in the area when I get back, as well as discussing it with my own pupils."

It was a friend in America who asked Mr Glover to help on Mr Obama's grass-roots campaign.

The teacher, who has a holiday home in Randolf, New York State, said Mr Obama "stands for change at a time when our world needs to re-evaluate its direction and its sense of political purpose."

Mr Glover developed his interest in American politics while studying at the Chautauqua Institution, in New York, in the 1990s.

He later worked for the institution's department of religion and continued with consultancy work after returning to start his teaching career in the UK.

Following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, he was invited to speak to students about religion at the site of the former Twin Towers in New York and at the Pentagon.

Last year he toured South America hoping to forge links between students in different countries.

"I agree with a lot of what Obama stands for," he said. "Although arguably whoever wins will be a loser because they are coming in at such a difficult time with the economy."

Another Obama supporter is the former Conservative education secretary Kenneth Baker.

The man who brought in the national curriculum 20 years ago, praised the Democrat candidate for reaching out to grass-roots supporters and using technology to reach more potential voters.

McCain and Obama spell out their schools policies

Education has not been one of the hottest topics on the presidential campaign trail, particularly since the meltdown of the economy.

But the two candidates have said enough to show that they are likely to take some fundamentally different approaches to schooling should they win.

Barack Obama wants to increase spending on teachers' pay and make more time available for mentoring and shared planning. He also wants to double spending on after-school programmes.

He is also a supporter of the No Child Left Behind programme, an accountability regime that has proved unpopular with teachers.

But he has said he wants it changed to help eliminate teaching to the test and making it more supportive of schools.

John McCain has proposed to take on the voucher system to give parents more choice over schools. He is wants more accountability and competition between schools, which he says have avoided "genuine responsibility".

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