The Corner

McCain on Education

In the portion of Sen. McCain’s speech before the NAACP excerpted by Peter Wehner below–”[n]o entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity [for a better education]“— McCain was challenging many of the people sitting in the audience. Much of the NAACP’s membership consists of the very folks who make up the “entrenched bureaucracy or union”. In fact, it’s usually hard to find any daylight between the NAACP and the NEA on material matters pertaining to education policy. McCain was talking (gamely but probably futilely) over the heads of the NAACP leadership to black voters in general who often are desperate to get their kids out of failing schools. My colleague Abby Thernstrom cites relatively recent NAEP scores that show only 25% of black 17 year- olds read as well as the average white 17 year- old; nearly 90% of black 17 year- olds score below the average white 17 year- old in math; more than 90% of black 17 year- olds score below the average white 17 year- old in science. The average black high school graduate has the academic proficiency of the average white eighth grader. In some cases these figures have gotten worse over the last thirty years–and the bureaucracy has remained firmly entrenched. The “entrenched bureaucracy’s” response is “send more money”. Yet school districts like Camden and D.C. have among the highest per-pupil expenditures in the nation while regularly returning the lowest test scores. The NAACP won’t be swayed . And the latest polls show that among black voters McCain is losing to the candidate that hews steadfastly to the policies of the “entrenched bureaucracy”– by a margin of 89% to 2%.

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