“He voted against increased funding for No Child Left Behind to preserve billions in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans – tax breaks he wants to extend without saying how he’d pay for them. He voted against increasing funds for Head Start, and Pell Grants, and the hiring of 100,000 new teachers again and again and again,” Obama said.
He accused McCain of only wanting to recycle old Republican ideas, “In fact, his only proposal seems to be recycling tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice. Now, I’ve been a proponent of public school choice throughout my career. I applaud AFT for your leadership in representing charter school teachers and support staff all across this country, and for even operating your own charters in New York. Because we know well-designed public charter schools have a lot to offer, and I’ve actually helped pass legislation to expand them. But what I do oppose is using public money for private school vouchers.”
Obama also discussed merit pay for teachers, “And when our educators succeed, I won’t just talk about how great they are; I will reward them for it. Under my plan, districts will be able to give teachers who mentor, or teach in underserved areas, or take on added responsibilities, or learn new skills to serve students better, or consistently excel in the classroom, the salary increase they deserve.”
This is the second speech in front of a teachers’ union in the last couple of weeks where Obama has tried to highlight the differences between himself and McCain. The reality is that McCain has no education policy, but votes against increased education funding don’t look good. McCain seems content to appeal to the Bush base, by promising more neglect of domestic policy. McCain is fighting an uphill battle because he is promising more of the same to a nation that is yearning for change.