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John McCain on Education: Where Art Thou?

With Republican presidential contender John McCain poised to make a strong showing—or even win—tomorrow's primary in New Hampshire, it seems appropriate to re-examine his views on education.

That's not such an easy task.

Education doesn't make the Arizona senator's list of issues on his campaign website. McCain doesn't talk much about No Child Left Behind (which he voted for as a member of the Senate in 2001) on the campaign trail, but he has said he favors some changes in testing requirements, particularly as they relate to English-language learners. In the Dec. 12 debate in Iowa, when asked about improving schools, McCain gave a laundry list of fairly vague answers—from school choice to rewarding good teachers. As a presidential candidate in 2000, he proposed a federal voucher program and tax breaks for high-performing teachers, but he hasn't unveiled any such proposals this time around. I called his press office to find out more about his views on education, but haven't heard back yet.

McCain is a campaign-finance, foreign-relations, anti-abortion, tax-cut candidate. Education is not his thing. Depending on your perspective, McCain's relative silence on education may be a good thing. If you think the federal government has grossly overreached into the state business of education, then he may be your guy.

Update: The Wisconsin-based Educator Compensation Institute has a small nugget of information about Sen. McCain's positive views on merit pay, along with other presidential hopefuls' views on teacher pay.

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