John McCain paid tribute to the New York City schools at last night’s debate, using the system as one of two examples of how “choice and competition” can improve public schools. (The other example was New Orleans.) McCain also borrowed a phrase Schools Chancellor Joel Klein often uses. “Well, it’s the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” was the first sentence of his response to Bob Schieffer’s education question. This follows McCain’s endorsement of Klein’s national manifesto on how to improve schools, the Education Equality Project, over the summer.
Barack Obama did not mention New York City’s school overhaul, but he did sing the praises of a chancellor who has cited Klein as a mentor, Michelle Rhee of Washington, D.C. Klein has praised Rhee and worked together with her on his Education Equality Project effort, while the teachers union president, Randi Weingarten, has criticized her more than once.
Given all the New York City love, it’s no surprise NYU education historian Diane Ravitch’s was not impressed: “Neither candidate showed a deep understanding of the needs of our public schools,” she wrote at Politico.