McCain vs McCain on Teacher Quality

By Vaishali Honawar — October 16, 2008 1 min read
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So John McCain wants to cut back on teacher-certification standards. And then he wants to weed out the bad teachers.

Here’s his quote from last night’s debate: “We need to encourage programs such as Teach For America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which — or have the certification that some are required in some states.”

At another point he said, “We need to find bad teachers another line of work.”

So what he’s saying is that we admit anyone without checks and controls into the teaching profession, and then go about finding and getting rid of the bad ones?

Umm, hold on Senator, but wouldn’t it be better if we found good teachers in the first place? Then we wouldn’t have to worry about spending as many resources hunting down the bad ones.

As for Barack Obama, he said it was “critically important for us to recruit a generation of new teachers, an army of new teachers, especially in math and science, give them higher pay, give them more professional development and support in exchange for higher standards and accountability.”

Obama also spent quite some time appealing to swing- and red-state voters reiterating his support for issues like performance pay and charter schools, and throwing in the fact that his position on these issues has not gone down well with the teachers’ unions.

“I support charter schools and pay for performance for teachers. Doesn’t make me popular with the teachers’ union,” he said.

The National Education Association, however, was quick to give a thumbs-up to Obama’s performance in last night’s debate.

“Senator Obama’s vision for the future of this country, and the future of the American economy, couldn’t be more different than McCain’s. While Obama calls for early-childhood education, professional pay, college affordability, parental involvement, and full funding for critical education programs, McCain calls for more of the same, including voucher schemes and rolling back teacher-certification standards,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in a statement.

You can read more about the debate and the candidates’ positions on education issues from my colleague Michele McNeil here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.