The Trail reports that Sen. John McCain is interested in reforming President George W. Bush’s signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, according to an adviser. The 2002 legislation sought to improve poorly performing public school systems in many states by mandating national performance standards.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hasn’t said much about how to fix America’s schools. But an adviser yesterday said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee supports using federal dollars for teacher merit pay and wants to change the No Child Left Behind law championed by President Bush.
Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona superintendent of public instruction and a McCain education policy adviser, said McCain wants annual testing to stay, and that schools would continue to be required to report those scores. But she said he wants educators to have more say in how to fix struggling schools…
McCain envisions a system in which students have access to tutoring and choice long before their school is labeled as failing, Keegan said. States also could pitch innovative reforms.
The law has been criticized in many state legislatures for wresting control over public education away from the states. Many teachers have also opposed the measure because they say it forces them to tailor their curriculum to standardized tests. The National Education Association, the country’s largest teacher’s union, opposes performance-based merit pay but has long supported reforming NCLB to put more control for school improvement in the hands of states, school districts and teachers.
While the Arizona senator has not yet formally rolled out his education proposals, this early statement from the campaign could represent another effort to reach out to women — and more specifically to supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton. According to 2004 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, 71 percent of the nation’s approximately 6.2 million teachers are women. Teacher’s unions have long been a core constituency of the Democratic Party. The 1.4 million-strong American Federation of Teachers endorsed Clinton in October. The NEA, which represents 3.2 million teachers, has yet to officially endorse a candidate.
One stumbling block could be McCain’s vaguely-worded support for "school choice" on his campaign Website — a hot-button issue for conservatives. The NEA also opposes voucher programs that would allow parents to send their children — along with federal dollars that otherwise would go to public schools — to private schools.
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