July 16th, 2008
09:31 AM ET
14 years ago

McCain to call for education reform in front of NAACP

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/16/art.mccain.7.16.jpg caption="McCain will push for more educational opportunities Wednesday."]
(CNN) - John McCain is expected to tell the NAACP today that he wants to help students in failing schools by giving them more educational opportunities.

According to excerpts of McCain’s speech this morning in Cincinnati to the NAACP annual national convention, McCain will say it’s time for a new approach to help fix America’s schools.

Related: McCain looks to make gains among black voters

“Nowhere are the limitations of conventional thinking any more apparent than in education policy. Education reform has long been a priority of the NAACP, and for good reason. For all the best efforts of teachers and administrators, the worst problems of our public school system are often found in black communities. Black and Latino students are among the most likely to drop out of high school. African Americans are also among the least likely to go on to college,” McCain says in the excerpts.

“After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and seeing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms. That isn't just my opinion; it is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children,” adds the Republican’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Giving parents more of a choice in where their children attend school is one of McCain’s staples on the campaign trail and it’s a theme he’ll repeat today, saying that, “ Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity. If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform.”

The senator from Arizona is a firm believer in holding schools and teachers accountable for results and rewarding superior teachers and weeding out incompetent ones. He’s also a supporter of charter schools, all issues that often put him at odds with the national teachers unions.

McCain did not speak in front of last year’s NAACP convention, and according to the excerpts, he’ll speak about that today, saying, “This is your second invitation to me during my presidential campaign, and I hope you'll excuse me for passing on the opportunity at your convention last year. As you might recall, I was a bit distracted at the time dealing with what reporters uncharitably described as an implosion in my campaign.”

McCain’s campaign nearly collapsed last summer before rebounding in the fall and winter. He ultimately locked up the Republican presidential nomination in March.

But McCain faces long odds in winning the black vote. His opponent, Barack Obama, is the first African American to head a major party ticket. Nine in ten black voters support the Illinois senator in a new CBS/New York Times poll, with only two percent backing McCain.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. bud in NC

    I do not want all of you jumping all over John McC if after saying he wants to reform the school system that he later makes a gaff and says he wants all schools to be reform schools. Then says it over and over. Then says he never said it. So what if he is a little confused. So what if he does not have a clue. Get off his back. He is trying.

    July 16, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Julie

    I have a hard time taking his comments seriously. Actions speak louder than words. This looks like blatant pandering to me.

    July 16, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. James Hussein, SC

    Bulldog July 16th, 2008 9:37 am ET

    You go McCain. You are a very brave man to knowingly go in front of a group of people you have not supported for the last 20+ years. You are brave to be able to go up there and lie straight to their faces.

    Good words, but McCain will support anyone who can afford his support. Since latinos and A-Americans don't believe in paying extra for the governmental support that their taxes already pay for, they lose. So to get John McCain on your side, all you need to do is donate large sums of money to his campaign and he will defend your position until some other person out bids you.

    July 16, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. Char for Obama 08 & 12

    DEAF EARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 16, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Willow, from Iowa

    Its a darn shame that McCain hasn't been saying this all along. I don't recall him saying much at all about educational opportunities for poor children in more than 20 years. He was all for limiting the government's ability to define education and teachers. Now he's saying he wants to de-limit what he said before? And he says Obama is a flip flopper?

    July 16, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Frank

    How about teaching kids about the real world. How to prepare yourself for college, how to get a mortgage, how to deal with banking, how the stock market works, how federal and state government functions, how things work, how to treat each other? Schools and teachers unions are shameful. Teach what will inspire this generation. The generation todat expects everything to be handed to them....hence the 'name calling' and shrill Obama followers.

    July 16, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Morningstar

    It is ironic that McBush knows very well that minorities and poor people children make up the majority of our arm forces, yet he voted against the GI bill that gave full scholarship to soldiers serving three years or more in the army, now he is going to tall to minorities about education reform. You will think that a person who is willing to give his/her life for our country should at the very least be sent to school after three years of service.

    July 16, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Larry, MI

    As an African-American, I'll give John McCain a lot of credit. George Bush never spoke to the NAACP in the 8 years he was president.

    I've always been a fan of McCain, although I was disappointed in him with his confederate flag flip-flop in 2000.

    He seems like a good man... He's a politician no doubt, but still a good man.

    July 16, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. MD

    Our education system suffers, and has suffered for many years. Under Clinton (and prior to him, GHWB and Reagan), there was emphasis on connecting education with future employment, showing that there are real benefits to sticking with schools.

    GWB made an attempt to alter our education system with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which put a series of huge checks on teachers, stripping curriculums to "essentials" and punishing teachers for either not standardizing their teaching for all students (which would cause failure among under priveleged or disabled students) and punished them for breaking with the standardization in order to accomodate for the needs of individual students (which discredits the standardized system).

    McCain supports NCLB, in all of its failures, despite the fact that teachers around the country say it doesn't work. In terms of education, McCain would continue with policies that don't work.

    July 16, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  10. Mauri

    If Obama can visit all 57 states, then McCain can have his Czechoslovakia! There are folks of 100% Czech nationality who can't keep up with poor ole' Czech Whatever - it has changed so much over the last 100 years. I just bet that both these Obama and McCain slips will not be held against them.

    July 16, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. David from Ohio

    Hillary is probably sipping a latte in one of her mansions. Boo hoo–Obama gets good press coverage–other than Reverend Wright, lapel pins, fist bumps and the like.

    July 16, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. Bob Stephens

    McSame will come out with his new education program. He will call it, " No children left behind" .

    July 16, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. DeMarcus from Chattanooga, TN

    I'm 21, a product of the public school in THIS GENERATION, attending a state institution of higher education, studying to become an educator myself and I'M BLACK. True enough the education is a foundation to success in any community but from my experience and observations, you can have a good school and still has failing students. What we are being taught right now as teachers is not how to teach Black and Latino students, but how to teach students from an ECONOMIC background that does not adequately support education. I have see far too many times friends and family who were very intelligent and by all means book smart, but education came second "making" money to help feed the family and pay bills. If either candidate is serious about better education, then the economy is one of the most important issues that affect the quality of the teachers and school systems.

    July 16, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Chut Pata

    I agree with John McCain that the education system is failing. The president can not pronounce "Nuclear" and comes up with the words like "Subliminable". The presidential candidate (that would be he himself) does not know that Czechoslovakia ceased to exist a decade ago. This is the pathetic state of affairs of elite schools where these elites went, and one can imagine the state of public schools.

    July 16, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. GIFTY

    That's my guy.
    Go Mccain

    July 16, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Jonathan samuels

    Did he really mention poor people? Something he has no right to talk about. I find mctaxcutsfortherichscrewthepoor to be insincere.

    July 16, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Obama/Hillary 08

    yes we can take America back.

    July 16, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Seattle Sue

    I thought McCain approved George W. Bush ( Leave No Child Behind ) plan. What a disappointment this man is.

    July 16, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. bernj

    McCain, who is computer illiterate, talking about education.

    McCain, who is computer illiterate, talking about Checkoslovakia.

    McCain, who is computer illiterate, talking about anything substantive.................impossible.

    July 16, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. Sheri

    At least McCain made an appearance to the NAACP.


    July 16, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. Proud American

    Oh boy... say anything McCain to get elected. You had 30 years and did absolutely nothing. Why should America believe your lies and pandering now!?!

    July 16, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. Throw Hillary Off The Train

    If the Clinton Machine couldn't crack 5% of the Black vote, what makes John McCain think he can sway that boat?

    July 16, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. bob

    You can reform education all you want , but , it will not get better until we have parent reform in these areas. In the past, minorities took pride in having their children, competeing and proveing that they were just as good as the next person, because they were being denied so much. Now somehow, minorities have placed all their eggs in two baskets, sports and entertainment, counting on that to get them to the next level. Until there is parent reform, whereby education becomes a higher priority with their involvement, then things will remain the same or get worse. And quit blaming the teachers for your childs demise. What ever happened to respect of authority.

    July 16, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. ET from OMAHA

    He needs to first go back to school and learn history, learn how to read the teleprompter, learn how to use Internet, learn the difference betwen sunite and chia, learn geography.
    Any way only morrons can vote for that old fool and It's only in America that McSAme can still have 41% in the polls.

    July 16, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Marilyn

    Why does McCain even speak before the NAACP group? They are not voting for him anyway. But, of course, many, many white people will not vote for Obama either.

    July 16, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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