In a speech today to the NAACP in Cincinnati, he hit on three big themes: school choice, technology, and teacher quality. (Read the transcript here). Education Week's Alyson Klein is in Cincinnati covering the speech, and I hope to include thoughts from her later. Here are highlights of his plan:
- On school choice—He wants to expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program from $13 million to $20 million, and allocate $500 million in existing federal funds to build new virtual schools and expand other online offerings for students. He wants to allow tutoring programs to bypass "local bureaucracy" for certification under No Child Left Behind and go straight to the even larger bureaucracy of the federal government for direct certification.
- On technology—He proposes a $250 million grant program to states who want to further expand online learning opportunities and another $250 million in scholarships for students who want to take advantage of online tutors or virtual schools.
- On teacher quality—McCain would dedicate 60 percent of the $3 billion under NCLB's Title II to incentive bonuses (not exactly merit pay) for teachers who teach in hard-to-staff schools or subjects, and who are highest achieving (which, to me, means their students make the biggest gains on tests.) He wants to devote 5 percent to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class, and the remaining 35 percent of Title II money would go to professional development.
Notably, his plan offers very little detail about how he might approach the reauthorization of NCLB. His only specific plan is to open up tutoring programs to federal certification, but beyond that, his plan talks more about the "promise" of NCLB than the specifics. In fact, during his speech—according to the transcript as prepared for delivery—he didn't even mention the words "No Child Left Behind."
(This is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog.)