One of Senator John McCain's most attractive virtues is his willingness to stand on principle even in the face of adversity. He promoted comprehensive immigration reform even though his own party's base hated it. He continues to support the Iraq War even though the public wants the troops out. Now, with his strong, almost-no-caveats embrace of No Child Left Behind, he's got a twofer: he's found a policy position opposed by his party's base and the general public.
Such a position gives Senator Barack Obama all kinds of room to run. He can support the tenets of NCLB while criticizing its specifics, placate his teacher union base while offering reforms that paint him as a different kind of Democrat. And yesterday, in a major policy speech at the Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts (MESA), that's exactly what he did. (Full text here, Washington Post Online coverage here; AP coverage here.) Here's the beef:
I believe it's time to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education, one where we all come together for the sake of our children's success. An era where each of us does our part to make that success a reality: parents and teachers, leaders in Washington and citizens all across America.
This starts with fixing the broken promises of No Child Left Behind. Now, I believe that the goals of this law were the right ones. Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher is...