Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is addressing an NAACP convention in Cincinnati today. His remarks touch on education and here's a preview courtesy of the Cincy Enquirer:
"If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of opportunity scholarships and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform," McCain said in the excerpts.
"After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and seeing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms," he said. "That isn't just my opinion. It is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children."
McCain's rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spoke to the same group on Monday. The Enquirer's gloss: "Obama [said] he would push the government to provide more education and economic assistance, but he also urged blacks to demand more of themselves."
Update: If you're interested in McCain's full remarks to the NAACP, go here. More details from the education section:
When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet...minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.
We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today. They don't have all the proper credits in educational "theory" or "methodology"—all they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough.
If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform.
That's pretty good rhetoric, for sure (and I say that as someone who would prefer the feds stay out of education). "Education presidents" have a way of disappointing their supporters, but those are some pretty powerful statements and it will be interesting to see if a) anyone really cares what presidential candidates think about education, b) if and how Obama responds, and c) how the teachers unions respond.