Barack Obama spoke via satellite to the National Education Association today, and called John McCain someone who “has a pretty slim record on education.” Obama said that when his opponent has taken a stand on education, it has been the wrong one.
“He voted against increased funding for NCLB to preserve billions in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Tax breaks he now wants to extend without saying how he will pay for it. He voted against funding the hiring 100,000 new teachers, not once, not twice, but four different times. He voted against increasing funds for Head Start and Pell grants time and time again,” Obama said.
He accused McCain of recycling old rhetoric, “He even applauded the idea of abolishing the department of education. In fact the only proposal of his seems to be recycling the tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice. Now I have been a proponent of public school choice throughout my career, well designed public charter schools have a lot to offer and I have actually helped passed legislation to expand. But what I do oppose is to use public money for private school vouchers. We need to work on fixing and improving our public schools, not throwing our hands up and walking away from them, that is my commitment when I am president of the United States.”
Obama advocated merit pay for teachers, and said that the responsibility for education must begin at home, “Responsibility for our children’s education has to start at home. They have to set high standards for them and spend time with them and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable, not just our schools, not just our teachers, but our parents, our community and our president and that’s the kind of leadership I want to provide when I am in the White House.”
Education is one of those issues that should be strong for Obama. McCain has a very soft record on education, and in fact, it seems like one of those issues that the Republican has little interest in. I definitely agree with Obama’s message that promotion of education begins at home. He also talked about reforming No Child Left Behind.
I think the emphasis should be on helping struggling public schools, not punishing them. The federal government has very little to do with education, but at least Obama could provide leadership to get things moving in the right direction.