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McCain Talks NCLB in Essence Magazine

By Alyson Klein — May 22, 2008 1 min read
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From contributing blogger Alyson Klein:

Now that he’s beefed up his education team, Sen. John McCain is actually ... talking about the No Child Left Behind Act. In an interview with Essence magazine, McCain says that the law, while flawed, was a step in the right direction in terms of closing the achievement gap. The whole article is illuminating, especially in terms of McCain’s strategy with African American voters.

But here’s a salient exchange:

McCain: We also have to act at the federal level, update the No Child Left Behind Act. The No Child Left Behind Act was a good beginning, in my view. Those who want to scrap it completely—I respectfully disagree. But now we have learned the lessons of the first five or six or seven years of putting No Child Left Behind into practice. So let’s fix it, because it’s clear we have a two-tiered system of education in America.

ESSENCE: This will be a priority?

McCain: Absolutely.

McCain didn’t offer any details on how he would “fix” the law (here’s hoping he does that soon). Still, Swift & Change Able had some suggestions for Democrats in shaping their education message, in response to McCain’s rhetoric. (The organization’s director is Charlie Barone, a one-time aide to Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee).

And, in the Essence interview, McCain talked to the magazine about his close friendship with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The two have teamed up on immigration overhaul and other issues. If McCain is in the White House next year, the chances for a bipartisan reauthorization of NCLB will only be improved if Sen. Kennedy’s health permits him to remain at the helm of the HELP committee.

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