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From Testing to Merit Pay, McCain Advisers Lays Out His Education Thinking

By Maria Glod
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hasn't said much about how to fix America's schools. But an adviser yesterday said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee supports using federal dollars for teacher merit pay and wants to change the No Child Left Behind law championed by President Bush.

Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona superintendent of public instruction and a McCain education policy adviser, said McCain wants annual testing to stay, and that schools would continue to be required to report those scores. But she said he wants educators to have more say in how to fix struggling schools.

"The federal government cannot position itself continually as the bully in this," Keegan told a group of reporters today at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit involved in education reform. "No more will we say that's what 50 states are going to do, because he doesn't believe that's our best hope for improvement."

Under the law Bush signed in 2002, schools that don't meet test score goals for two consecutive years must allow students to transfer to higher-performing schools. Schools that fall short for three years must offer private tutoring to children from low-income families. More sanctions follow.

McCain envisions a system in which students have access to tutoring and choice long before their school is labeled as failing, Keegan said. States also could pitch innovative reforms.

As for the law's key goal of having all students proficient in reading and math by 2014, Keegan said it is not clear whether it would change. But, she added, "That date is something that everybody's nudging and winking about."

Bush promoted school reform often in his 2000 campaign, but McCain has not stressed the issue. Keegan said to stay tuned. "The dialogue about the nature of that plan is one that the senator wants to have himself, and he wants to have it when he thinks it will get best heard and he thinks that's around back-to-school time."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 12, 2008; 5:06 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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I spent almost 30 years as an educator and have seen merit pay ideas come and go, but I'd like to ask Mr. McCain this:
WHat would happen if we proposed a system of merit pay for Congressmen? Who would judge it? How would our Senators do for the past seven years?
If he can answer this, I'll take his education ideas more seriously.

Posted by: Dick Brandlon | June 14, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a lot smarter than people think. A smart man would want more for the next generation than what he had for himself.

If I was Obama I'd shy away from the education topic. Too many, other than white, reject our knowledge has if it's B.S. What's sad is that it's more popular not to care about education has it is to party. The "geeks" make the most money and the "cool people" work for them. Why don't celebrities have their own fields or stadiums? 50 Cent could have 50 Cent Little League field because that's about has much as he can afford, much like the rest of the entertainment world.

Education should be in the power of the Teacher, after all they're the ones who are teaching...

MCCAIN 2008!

Posted by: No One | June 14, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Look at Obama's website vs. McCain's. McCain basically wants to let parents enroll their children in whatever school works for them and have federal dollars fund this kids; including private school and home education. He is sucking up to the far right who don't trust public schools and educate privately anyway. Obama has a multipoint plan including pay, incentives, measuring, etc. I wrote about it on my blog

Posted by: tim | June 13, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

John Stewart on the Daily Show said it best, "When I am looking for a president, I want the smartest guy i the room". When it comes to brains and strategy, it is hard to argue that Barack has a challenge with John M. And by the way, would a smart individual with experience suggest having Dick Chaney as VP? This guy is great at one thing. Not thinking. Someone needs to tie Obamas arm to his back to make this years vote fair.

Posted by: JAD | June 13, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher I welcome Senator McCain"s remarks. Education cannot be mandated top down by the Federal Government. It starts at home with parents who believe education is the key to their child having a good job and life. There is nothing wrong with having standards and testing to show others how your school and child is doing. But when testing becomes the sole purpose of the school we all lose. Rewarding those who do a better job is something we all believe in. I just don't know how you can accurately measure this in education. To those of you who think by attacking McCain's character or education is discussing the issue you lower both yourself and the debate. I thought that what both candidates professed to wish to discuss the issues and end politics as usual. Shame on you.

Posted by: DocH | June 13, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

When did Mccain get interested in education since he finished 896 out of 899 in his class. The guy is just short of being a moron. Of course being drunk almost his entire school didn't help, Well documented by his school mates and friends they all talk openly about it. He just coasted by on who his father was, a pattern he repeated in later life when he married his current wife and his father-in-law bought him his political career. A career he has spent pretty much as a do nothing senator. This guy is useless as well as stupid and he is actually a candidate for the office of president. Many members privately say he is mentally unbalanced. I heard last night on TV for the first time someone actually allude to him basically being nuts. We have five months for him to expose himself as he is sure to. People will be looking at him shacking their heads. It won't take attacks on blogs to expose him he will do it himself. It is just a matter of time. It is so easy to push his buttons Obamas crew, who are real smart, will have Mccain going nuts in no time.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

what i find surprising is the way the media has fallen for the obama rhetoric.

it is all form without substance.i admire his oratory but that is all.there is nothing to back up his talk."the audacity of hope?" quite meaningless.
ok so he is very slightly poetic(very slightly) but what has that got to do with being the president of the united states?

Posted by: richard | June 13, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

on no child left behind

may it be that we all are treated equally.
we are not however equally blessed with the same cognitive ability.
those who leave school early have reached the conclusion they can no longer benefit from further education.some are wrong but most are not.
we have to make sure those who leave early have a chance to make a living in any way they choose.

Posted by: richard | June 13, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

McCain doesn't give a hoot about education. McCain's own experience proves that. McCain got into the Naval Academy because his grandfather and father were Admirals in the military, not because McCain was a great student. McCain graduated nearly at the bottom of his class.

McCain is only going to push for "more choices" for parents in selecting schools for their children (i.e. code talk for more private schooling)! No merit pay for teachers and no college loans for military personnel or civilians unless you serve at least 7 to 10 years in the military. That's the McCain way!

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | June 13, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

As with so many issues that our politicians go in circles trying to comprehend a solution to, Education is ALSO directly affected by 20 MILLION ILLEGAL RESIDENTS!

The Worst part, thanks to NIMRODS like House Speaker Ninny Peloser Sitting on House Resolution 1940:Birthright Citizenship Act, Million more continue to overload our Systems(Including said schools) LEGALLY, and in Increasing Numbers!

Hospitals(Costs), Prisons, Roads, Resources, Jobs-I said JOBS you Idiot Reps sniveling about UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSIONS, and much more, ALL have IMMIGRANTS, Legal and Illegal, OVERLOADING THEM!

The Idiocy of EO 13166;Bi-Lingual REQUIRED, combined with the FEDERAL Requirement of Local Schools teach Backwards foreign Invaders, is WHY are Schools resemble Dogpatch USA.

But, Senor Senator McAmnesty has NOOOOOO Problemo with the Problemo!

Neither does Barry! :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | June 12, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

AHH McCain wants no child left behind on steroids. Seriously does this man have anything to offer besides the fact that he was tortured. That clearly makes him a honorable person, but it doesn't give him a free ride the presidency.

Posted by: TEXDEM | June 12, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Of course McCain has a plan for education. It's called the "Armed Forces". And to make sure all the kids "stay in school", he opposes anything close to a GI Bill that would allow soldiers to go to real colleges on well-earned scholarship.

Yes. Leadership we can believe in.

Posted by: PJ | June 12, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Face it, the only priority of McCain is war. He thinks the economy is doing ok, he thinks we're better off than we were eight years ago, he thinks that the open market will take care of all our economic woes, he thinks lowering taxes (for corporations and the uber wealthy) will increase revenue (man, I am not a Rhodes Scholar, but honestly, give me a break. Let's hit that 0% of taxes then our government will be rich!). He has no plan. He has no idea. He has no vision.

(On a lighter note: Are you a first class snarker? I am looking for YOU! You're gonna love this! Come join the fun and tell us why YOU are voting Republican.)

Posted by: MsJoanne | June 12, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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