Edwards will lay out his education plan Friday.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will outline his plan for education reform Friday, in what his campaign is calling a "major policy speech" at a middle school in Des Moines.
The Democratic presidential hopeful's proposal includes overhauling "No Child Left Behind," creating universal preschool for four-year-olds, increasing teacher pay, and creating a national teacher university, according to his campaign.
Edwards' plan includes placing more specific reforms into three broad
categories: preparing children to succeed when they show up in the classroom, giving each classroom an excellent teacher, and making sure every teacher works in an outstanding school.
"I grew up in a small, rural town and my parents didn't have a lot of money," Edwards will say, according to advanced copy of his remarks provided to CNN. "But I was lucky to have public school teachers who taught me to believe that somebody from a little town in North Carolina could do just about anything if he worked hard and played by the rules."
A "radical overhaul" of "No Child Left Behind" will be one of the main points Edwards will emphasize.
"NCLB is a case study in the broken system in Washington, D.C.," he will say.
Edwards will call for "better tests" to replace the current standardized versions.
In addition to NCLB reform, Edwards plans to call for voluntary universal "high-quality preschool programs" for 4 year olds. Tuition would be based on a sliding scale and waived for low-income families.
Edwards will also hit on a theme that he's been campaigning on in recent months: anti-poverty. He'll outline an increase in pay by up to $15,000 for teachers in high-poverty schools broken down in $5,000 increments: teaching in a "successful high-poverty school, earning a "national certification for excellence in high-poverty schools, and acting as a mentor in high-poverty schools if someone is a veteran teacher."
Edwards will also call for a national university that he describes as "a West Point for teachers." The university would recruit 1,000 "top college students a year" and will waive tuition "for students who go on to teach in schools and subject areas facing shortages."
UPDATE: Shortly after this initial story was posted, Republican National Committee spokesman Brian Walton issued a statement to CNN saying, "After John Edwards charged a public university $55,000 so they could hear him hypocritically talk about poverty, one has to wonder what price these middle school students will have to pay."
– CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch