John McCain on school choice

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From Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech in St. Paul tonight:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.

(Crossposted at Choice Remarks.)

McCain's remarks, quoted above, brought the delegates to their feet with loud cheers several times.

School choice received many prime-time mentions from the podium of the Republican National Convention this week.

GOPAC Chairman Michael Steele:

Some just talk about change, but John McCain believes the resiliency of the American people is the real source of the change America needs; and that means putting country first.

So, do you want to put your country first? Then let's change the way we educate our kids.

Let's empower those whose minds are shackled by a poor education with real choices in where they go to school....

John McCain knows we must empower working families and stand with them against the erosion of our constitutional rights, the corruption of our school systems, the weakening of our families and the taking of human life - born and unborn.

Mitt Romney:

Opportunity expands when there is excellence and choice in education, when taxes are lowered, when every citizen has affordable, portable health insurance, and when constitutional freedoms are preserved.

Rudy Giuliani:

And as we look to the future never let us forget that - when we are at our best - we are the party that expands Freedom. We began as a party dedicated to freeing people from slavery ... And we are still the party that is willing to fight for freedom at home and around the world. We are the party that wants to expand individual freedom and economic freedom ... because we believe that the secret of America's success is not central government, it is self-government. We are the party that believes in giving workers the right to work. The party that believes parents should choose where their children go to school.

From the 2008 Republican platform about Washington, D. C.:

Washington should be made a model city. Two major Republican initiatives -- a first-time D.C. homebuyers credit and a landmark school choice initiative -- have pointed the way toward a civic resurgence, and a third piece of GOP legislation now guarantees young D.C. residents significant assistance in affording higher education.

From the education section of the platform.

Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child. We support choice in education for all families, especially those with children trapped in dangerous and failing schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers or tax credits for attending faith-based or other nonpublic schools, or the option of home schooling.

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Roy said:

Sure, Mike. But how will he deliver (without reversing busing)?

Put more bluntly, how can *anyone* deliver when the formulas considered do not include parents as not merely a factor, but a heavily weighted factor?

I've asked my kids and grandkids to do this exercise: what counts most in getting an education? Rank order the following: teacher, school, yourself, parents. (The older granddaughter understood in 4th grade. The younger, now in third, cannot yet visualize the problem.) Any debate about education which cannot get that order right cannot solve education problems.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

Great coverage, Michael. It's great to have such thorough and detailed reporting.

Mark Author Profile Page said:

I too wholeheartedly support “school choice”. Many of my best friends are home-schoolers; I think charter schools are a great concept; I’ve been blessed personally to be able to send my own kids to independent private schools; and magnet schools are always a tempting option as I write the big tuition checks each year. All of these options should stay on the table for American families.

But simply to affirm these "escape routes", or suggest a few others, is to treat the symptoms rather than the problem. The crisis in education is not ultimately in the degree of availability of “choice”. The availability of choice is merely the variable that determines the degree to which those of us who value education are actually affected by THE PROBLEM. The truly fundamental problem is that our culture has declined to the point that a critical mass of students in many neighborhood schools arrive there completely unequipped, behaviorally and intellectually, to participate constructively in the educational process. Their lack of fitness drags everyone down with them.

The continuing growth of an underclass in America, and the related breakdown of the nuclear family and general erosion of fundamental family values are the engines of this phenomenon. It is apparent that this societal breakdown has both economic (growing income and wealth disparities) and cultural (i.e. community morality) precursors. Until we deal with those root causes, an ever-growing tide of underclass will continue to swamp our system of public education.

Fortunately one of the major party candidates for President has insight into these problems and has stepped up to address both. That candidate is Barack Obama. He has not been afraid to address the moral failings of our underclass, even calling out fellow Black men for their role in the disintegration of the family. He’s also the only candidate with a specific plan to deal with the critical effects of poverty on the educational opportunities of children BEFORE they reach Kindergarten. An overview of his specific and detailed “Zero to Five Plan” is found in Section II at the following link:

By contrast, John McCain appears to have abdicated any moral leadership in this area, and has failed to formulate any specific policy prescriptions to deal with the economic disadvantage that is a root cause of our educational crisis.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 4, 2008 11:22 PM.

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