A lot of people, and not just Republicans, have been waiting for John McCain to unveil his thinking about education policy. While Barack Obama has made multiple speeches on the subject (most recently to both teacher union conferences) and has elaborate position papers on his campaign website, the Arizona senator said little, except for tantalizing bits about his own education. Last month, however, McCain advisor Lisa Graham Keegan predicted that he would soon address this issue. She was right. Yesterday in Cincinnati, at the same NAACP convention that Senator Obama addressed on Monday, McCain framed an ambitious and fairly comprehensive array of education reforms and asked civil rights leaders to join him in pressing for them. Later in the day, his campaign website posted a reasonably detailed K-12 education plan. Speech and plan include some familiar GOP refrains (school choice, especially) but also move in such interesting directions as virtual education; giving budgetary authority to school principals; alternative certification for teachers; and several forms of differential pay, including more money for teachers who work in "troubled schools." It begins to look possible that education will turn into a bona fide election issue after all--and that differences between the presidential candidates in this sphere will actually prove interesting and salient. (McCain's speech is here; his plan is here.)

"McCain to NAACP: More education options," Associated Press, July 16, 2008

"Choice and Teacher Quality Top McCain's Education Agenda," by Alyson Klein, Education Week, July 16, 2008

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