The conservative Tory party has long supported parental choice as the best method to elevate student achievement. This explains why the party has backed the City Academies Program launched by Labor's Tony Blair, which draws on community sponsors (business, faith-based, and individual) to replace decaying urban schools. An up-and-coming Tory leader, David Cameron, also likes the plan - to a point. Rigor, not choice, he tells the Independent is the real key to raising student achievement. "The academy program has not gone far enough," he tells BBC News. "What is needed is real rigor combined with autonomy in schools." He chastises the government for claiming that student achievement is on the rise but never providing the proof. "They say they are improving literacy and numeracy standards...but they aren't. There are still one in five children leaving primary school unable to read, write, or add up." This lukewarm attitude toward choice has upset more than a few of Cameron's fellow conservatives, but still he presses on. The result? Possibly the house at 10 Downing Street.
"David Cameron: Tories' man wipes the slate," Independent, September 8, 2005
"Parents back academies says Blair," BBC News, September 13, 2005