Sen. John McCain has kept relatively mum about his education plans so far in his quest for the presidency. Although the Arizona Republican has touted his support for merit pay and school choice, education policy wonks still aren’t certain how he would handle such major issues as the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
That may help explain the expectations that were being felt in education circles about the presumptive GOP nominee’s scheduled speech this week in Cincinnati at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Lisa Graham Keegan, an education adviser for Sen. McCain, had told the Associated Press that the senator would discuss his support for merit-pay programs for teachers, and talk about how the federal government can ensure that low-income students at struggling schools have access to tutoring services.
“The senator is very impatient for kids to have interventions when they need it,” said Ms. Keegan, a former Arizona state schools chief.
Sen. McCain is not expected to release a detailed education proposal until the end of the summer. Even so, policy observers deemed the July 16 NAACP event worth watching because he has said so little about education on the campaign trail.
“He’s made a few statements about his principles and beliefs in education, ... but he’s a long way from having a plan that will guide what his administration will do, ” said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, who served in the Department of Education during President Bush’s first term.
Sen. McCain’s presumptive Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, has also released few details of his plan for the renewal of the NCLB law, although he does have some specific proposals on bolstering teacher quality and expanding access to pre-K programs.
In a speech this month to the National Education Association, Sen. Obama also reaffirmed his support for merit pay—drawing some boos. (See “NEA Delegates Block Private School Workers From Membership,” this issue.)
Sen. Obama was also scheduled to appear before the NAACP.
A version of this article appeared in the July 16, 2008 edition of Education Week