Arizona Sen. John McCain, who until yesterday barely said boo about education, now has the solution to our education ills:
Every child should be blessed with a teacher like I had, and to learn at institutions with high academic standards and codes of conduct that reinforce the values their parents try to impart to them.
This snippet from a speech he gave today was set against the backdrop of Episcopal High School, (pictured above), a private boarding school in Alexandria, Va., where Sen. McCain got his diploma in 1954. (Photo credit: Episcopal High School web site).
In his speech, Sen. McCain spoke eloquently about the influence of the school’s teachers and its honor code, and how those high school years from 1951 to 1954 were among the happiest of his life. While attending school there, Sen. McCain participated in yearbook, the drama club, and wrestling.
He acknowledged, in his speech, that not everyone has those experiences. Half of African American and Hispanic students don’t graduate on time, he said. The country’s math and science scores are near the bottom of industrialized countries, he continued.
He touted merit pay for teachers, and encouraging more people, especially military veterans, to turn to teaching as a career. And, he said parents should be able to get their kids out of bad schools and into good ones.
Presumably, good ones like Episcopal.
Episcopal has an average class size of 12—a public school teacher’s dream. The school also gets to pick and choose who it educates. For the 2007-08 school year, 668 students applied, and 197 were accepted. Although 30 percent of its students receive financial aid, this education comes with a hefty price tag:
$38,200 a year.
That’s more than the median family income of a black family in the U.S., which was $31,969 a year in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In this speech, McCain talked more about education than at any other time in the campaign. But he left out something important. He didn’t say what families should do if they can’t afford a better school, whether it be a pricey Episcopal, a less expensive inner-city Catholic school, or another public school across town that’s the price of city bus fare everyday.