Unfortunately, I didn’t watch the whole debate. I have it pretty much narrowed down to who I am going to vote for but I still like to watch the two titans spare. I have a lot of respect for both of the major party candidates. But there is one thing tonight that John McCain said that honestly made my head spin. I had to check the transcript of the debate to make sure that I heard it correct.
Here is the question that was asked of the candidates:
The U.S. spends more per capita than any other country on education. Yet, by every international measurement, in math and science competence, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, we trail most of the countries of the world.
The implications of this are clearly obvious. Some even say it poses a threat to our national security.
Do you feel that way and what do you intend to do about it?
Obama answered first with the following:
Obama: This probably has more to do with our economic future than anything and that means it also has a national security implication, because there’s never been a nation on earth that saw its economy decline and continued to maintain its primacy as a military power.
So we’ve got to get our education system right. Now, typically, what’s happened is that there’s been a debate between more money or reform, and I think we need both.
In some cases, we are going to have to invest. Early childhood education, which closes the achievement gap, so that every child is prepared for school, every dollar we invest in that, we end up getting huge benefits with improved reading scores, reduced dropout rates, reduced delinquency rates.
I think it’s going to be critically important for us to recruit a generation of new teachers, an army of new teachers, especially in math and science, give them higher pay, give them more professional development and support in exchange for higher standards and accountability.
And I think it’s important for us to make college affordable. Right now, I meet young people all across the country who either have decided not to go to college or if they’re going to college, they are taking on $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, $60,000 worth of debt, and it’s very difficult for them to go into some fields, like basic research in science, for example, thinking to themselves that they’re going to have a mortgage before they even buy a house.
And that’s why I’ve proposed a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, in exchange for some form of community service, whether it’s military service, whether it’s Peace Corps, whether it’s working in a community.
If we do those things, then I believe that we can create a better school system.
But there’s one last ingredient that I just want to mention, and that’s parents. We can’t do it just in the schools. Parents are going to have to show more responsibility. They’ve got to turn off the TV set, put away the video games, and, finally, start instilling that thirst for knowledge that our students need.
Then McCain had his chance to answer:
McCain: Well, it’s the civil rights issue of the 21st century. There’s no doubt that we have achieved equal access to schools in America after a long and difficult and terrible struggle.
But what is the advantage in a low income area of sending a child to a failed school and that being your only choice?
So choice and competition amongst schools is one of the key elements that’s already been proven in places in like New Orleans and New York City and other places, where we have charter schools, where we take good teachers and we reward them and promote them.
And we find bad teachers another line of work. And we have to be able to give parents the same choice, frankly, that Sen. Obama and Mrs. Obama had and Cindy and I had to send our kids to the school — their kids to the school of their choice.
Charter schools aren’t the only answer, but they’re providing competition. They are providing the kind of competitions that have upgraded both schools — types of schools.
Now, throwing money at the problem is not the answer. You will find that some of the worst school systems in America get the most money per student.
So I believe that we need to reward these good teachers.
We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which — or have the certification that some are required in some states.
Look, we must improve education in this country. As far as college education is concerned, we need to make those student loans available. We need to give them a repayment schedule that they can meet. We need to have full student loan program for in-state tuition. And we certainly need to adjust the certain loan eligibility to inflation.
Let me see if I get this right. You want to put someone in a classroom that bypasses the state regulations and certifications because they served in the military? Please tell me I’m not hearing that correctly. That CAN’T be what McCain just said. He had to have just messed up there.
I can’t believe that the way to correct the situation is to send unqualified teachers into the classroom.
I’m going to believe that McCain wasn’t giving the full picture here and there are more to these programs than what it appears. But good grief man, that just lost you the few teacher votes that you had.