Opportunity and prosperity
They're the same two that penned a report in 1989 that set the tone for Clinton's centrist run in '92, so people are listening. What does this have to do with education? From the Washington Post:
They contend that Democrats who hope the party's relative advantages on health care and education can vault them back to power "fail the test of political reality in the post-9/11 world." Security issues have become "threshold" questions for many voters, ...
I think there's truth in this, but it's only part truth. Americans are rightly concerned with security and justifiably frightened by terrorists. But we are also concerned about the opportunities that will be available to our children. With a rising deficit and decreasing investments in education, it is becoming more and more likely that future generations will see falling standards of living. That's an intolerable situation.
The twin messages of Democrats need to be opportunity and prosperity. And you can't have either without an excellent educational system. Test scores, which Republicans (and some Democrats unfortunately) are obsessed with, merely prove adequacy. We must demand more.
Education leads to opportunity and prosperity.
(For more on the report, and one particular claim that there simply aren't enough voters in the liberal base to achieve broad victories on Election Day, see Kevin Drum's Political Animal.)