Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Fact Check: McCain Ad Attacking Obama

By Alyson Klein — September 10, 2008 2 min read

Yesterday, I calledthe Obama ad attacking McCain’s record on education “misleading.”

Well, the ad that the McCain campaign struck back with took similar liberties with Obama’s record.

The ad says that Obama’s only significant accomplishment on education was a bill in the Illinois state Senate on sex education. The Huffington Post has reported that the bill was meant to encourage programs to protect kids from sexual predators.

And I’m not sure what yardstick the McCain was using for “legislative accomplishments.” But it seems that Obama has done more than that, even just in the past year.

For instance, Obama introduced a bill authorizing money for grants to create “teacher residency programs,” which allow universities and districts to partner to give prospective teachers beefed-up field experiences and support. The legislation was included in a renewal of the Higher Education Act, which passed earlier this year. Obama has proposed expanding residencies even further, as part of his education platform.

Obama took the lead in ensuring the program made it into the bill, Jane West, the vice-president for government relations at the non-partisan American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, told me. (West is a former aid to Senate Republicans). Sure, the program didn’t pass as standalone legislation and was folded into a much larger bill. But that’s pretty much how things work in Congress ... and McCain, who has been there for over a quarter century, knows that.

Second, the ad says that Education Week said that Obama has a scant record on education. You can read the story for the broader context, but it details Obama’s work for an Annenberg Foundation-funded effort on teacher quality. And, as some folks have already pointed out, we’ve also said that McCain doesn’t have much a record on the issue either, and that he hasn’t talked about it very much on the stump. Even folks in his own party aren’t sure where he stands on the issue.

As for the other two articles the ad cites, both are editorials. One is written by Steve Chapman, a syndicated columnist. And the other is a Washington Post editorial that says that McCain hasn’t released a detailed plan on education. It was written before his speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in July, in which he sketched out his education plan. But that speech didn’t even mention the main federal lever for school policy, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Related Tags: