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McCain, Obama Advisers Spar on Education Reform

Among the issues being debated among the campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama is education, with each candidate seeking to define positions on school spending and the No Child Left Behind initiative. Education advisers for McCain and Obama detail the candidates' plans.

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    And next: the education issue.

    Beyond Virginia's importance as a battleground state, Barack Obama had another reason for visiting the state today. He laid out his education policies.

    Gwen Ifill reports on where the candidates stand on education.


    Barack Obama went to high school this morning to assume the role of teacher: contrasting his education record with John McCain's.


    Instead of just talking about school choice, I helped pass legislation to double the number of charter schools in Chicago. Instead of talking about the need to provide teachers in undeserved areas, I introduced legislation that signed into law a few weeks ago, that would train and supply high-quality teachers to teach in areas in need.

    So that's my track record.

    Let's talk about his for a moment. He marched with the ideologues in his party and opposing efforts to hire more teachers, fully fund No Child Left Behind and make college more affordable.


    The two campaigns' battle over who would be best for the nation's schools has also spread to the airwaves.


    John McCain voted to cut education funding, against accountability standards. He even proposed abolishing the Department of Education. And John McCain's economic plan gives $200 billion more to special interests, while taking money away from public schools.


    "Education Week" says Barack Obama hasn't made a significant mark on education, that he's elusive on accountability, a staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly. Obama's one accomplishment? Legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners.


    There is some agreement between the two candidates. Both want to change the No Child Left Behind law, reward teachers who serve in under-served areas and inner cities, and provide merit pay to high-performing teachers.

    But the differences are defining. Obama opposes the use of school vouchers. McCain supports them, declaring at last week's Republican Convention that education is the civil rights issue of the century.


    When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parent — when it fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them.


    Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have the choice, and their children will have that opportunity.


    Obama proposes spending $19 billion in new education spending. McCain has suggested spending remain at current levels.

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