During a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials the other day, John McCain launched into a discussion of NCLB and education funding, holding up New York City (with awful – and similar funding issues to Wisconsin) and New Orleans (oy!) as examples of Republican success stories in education. Charter schools, according to him, can be our silver bullet. Pardon me, but we all need a national conversation to start now. However for Mr. McCain, it would seem his mind is made up.
“I mean, they also re-authorized No Child Left Behind, with the lessons we learned in the intervening years since we passed it, in a bi-partisan fashion, I would fully fund those programs that have never been fully funded. But let me also say to you: choice and competition. I believe that every family in America should have the same choice that Cindy and I did. We chose to send our children to a Catholic school. That was because we were able to do so. So I believe that charter schools work. I believe that they’re not much better than public education, but they provide competition. There are two examples I’d like to mention very briefly: New York City and New Orleans. If you missed it, there is now a dramatic uptick in the performance of school children in New York City, a place where a lot of experts thought there would never be improvement. We ought to go up there and see what Mr. Klein and Mayor Bloomberg and others have done and dedicated educators have done in New York City. New Orleans, they had to start at square one, as you know. There are now 30 charter schools in the city of New Orleans. Anyone will tell you that they’re starting to see a dramatic improvement in the quality of education in the city of New Orleans. My friends, choice and competition, reward the teachers, God bless them, find bad teachers another line of work. Choice and competition.”
I’ll bet Mr. “Choice and Competition” has never seen this documentary. He won’t – but you can. Educate yourself. See what magic an unregulated post-Katrina education industry has brought to New Orleans and shades of things to come if some mainstream thinking about reforming education comes to fruition.