Unsticking the Cement?
Calling for a constructive dialogue between the two parties, Sen. John Kerry says he's frustrated with what he sees as a lack of ideas and action at the federal level on education.
The Massachusetts Democrat carved out a plan to restructure public education in a speech at a Democratic Leadership Council forum last week. "We're stuck in an ideological cement of our own making," he said on Sept. 22.
In this month's edition of its Blueprint magazine, the centrist DLC calls for a dramatic revamping of public education, including national standards and tests, public school choice, and high-stakes accountability measures. Sen. Kerry said lawmakers should also focus on high standards and better incentives for teachers and principals, and should abolish bureaucracy by treating every school as a charter school and holding it to tough accountability standards.
He also accused Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the leading Republican presidential candidate, of adopting some of the ideas in a major education address Mr. Kerry gave in Boston last year. And the senator criticized Gov. Bush's call for giving poor students in failing public schools vouchers to attend private schools.
A Different Take
Meanwhile, a Democratic presidential candidate has taken a slightly different stand on vouchers.
Former Sen. Bill Bradley, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2000, was asked in his Sept. 19 appearance on ABC-TV's "This Week" to defend his votes in Congress in years past for a voucher program for low-income Washington students and other voucher-related initiatives.
Mr. Bradley maintained he opposes vouchers, but added that he wants to test voucher supporters' hypothesis that school choice will help revamp failing urban schools.
"I support the experiments that are going on in Milwaukee and in Cleveland, because I think that we can't leave anything unturned if what we're going to do is try to help the public schools of urban America," he added.
--Joetta L. Sack [email protected]
Vol. 19, Issue 5, Page 24