McCain v. Obama Essay


The issue of education in American schools is very crucial during this year presidential campaigns between the republican presidential nominee senator McCain and the democratic presidential nominee senator barrack Obama. Both presidential candidates agree that the level of education standards is fallowing and that some kinds of reforms are needed in the education sector. However, each presidential candidate has his views and plans on how best to improve education in America. This study paper is going to make a comparative analysis of education platform of both senator McCain and senator Obama.

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The following section will outline main issues of education and how the two candidate plan to handle the issues:

National education standards

Senator McCain has a view that the role of the federal government supportive necessitated states to formulate sound education policies and accountability mechanism. McCain is against national education standards, however, he suggest encouraging all states to willingly formulate their own standard to measure against international education standards. (Mayer, 2008)

Senator Obama seems to agree with senator McCain on the role of the federal government on education as being supportive. But, he wants the states to formulate education standard in conjunction with other states based on education standards formulated by different national education proposals. (Mayer, 2008)

Research and development

Senator McCain put a lot emphasizes on using research in determining which best policies can be used in education. McCain as well suggested improving academic-sector and research and development partnership and also want to expand the usage of data stored in the state data system for the purposes of research and development. (Mayer, 2008)

Here senator Obama has a different  view, he suggest raising federal funds on research and development in education which he termed as presently being “immature field”. Obama feels that putting a lot of emphasis on trial design is taking an easy and narrow approach in dealing with an intricate education issue. He adds that simply because a particularly invention has proved to be successful in one situation does not imply that it can be used elsewhere and be successful again. As such the two senators have different approach on R&D in education. (Mayer, 2008)

Technology application in education

Senator McCain takes a supportive position here. However, he seems to favor a regulatory reform viewpoint instead of the public investment. McCain thinks that there is a great storm that is coming which will highly change the way education is through the use of technology. And he has called for the federal government and other policy makers to make sure that the present regulations do not hinder the growth of technology in schools particularly on distance learning.

Obama on the other hand has taken a philosophical view on this issue. He poses this question: “what is the floor and the ceiling of what education ought to be, to meet the present day students needs? (Obama, 2008) Thus, here though McCain and Obama both agree on importance of technology on education, Obama has some reservation on far technology has to be incorporated in education.

In general both McCain and Obama have are concerned about the use of technology in education. As sated McCain supports technology application in education and wants it to be limited in the manner it is used in a classroom setting. But, Obama wants technology to be well embraced within schools and classrooms to improve education if it should.

Federal government spending on education

The federal funding of education should be better and should be put on where they can be effectively be used such as in classroom, not on bureaucracy where the current spending seems to be based a lot. This is the viewpoint of senator McCain. On the other hand, Obama thinks that NCLB presently is not being financed well. But like McCain who specifies where to increase funding, Obama differs here, he suggests that the funding should be redefined so that funding is directed where it is required to ensure education is improved. For instance, ensuring that, every teacher has got high quality and training and that every student can access a high quality curriculum.

NCLB’s effects on education

Regarding the policy of no child left behind, which is the major issue and which has elicited a lot of arguments from the two Senators; McCain believes that it is the NCLB which should carry the responsibility in whatever negative things happening in the schools currently. He add that even the term itself “No Child Left Behind” is only a disruption averting logical of debate  NCLB good contribution such as highlighting a number of students who before were hidden. This fact is not shared by Obama who views that every failure in schools can not be blamed on NCLB, since it tried to uplift the education for all American children. (Nedra, 2008)

McCain observes that the NCLB has failed; to him it is insincere to assert that the school systems should be saved when we can not save students from failure and lack of knowledge. He goes to make his most memorable quote “if a school won’t change, then students should change schools,” (McCain, 2008). This shows that McCain views education in American has being failed specially because of NCLB. To further elaborate this point, McCain observes that what is needed is a chance to shift students from these academic quandaries.

Nonetheless, Senator McCain is supportive of growth models to him he wants the growth models to continue being used. He termed NCLB name (not is provisions and objective) as being a disruption and a pretext presently.  McCain seems also to have taken a controversial position when he stated that NCLB accountability and sanctions are the ones which are making some teachers to teach math. Woodward (2008) quotes McCain as saying that no federal government program needs to take the position of policing teachers or taking local actions on the teachers.

But, senator Obama differs with McCain on growth models; he wants a change on growth models where a new timely assessment method can be used. Senator Obama stresses the need to assess ability in this 21st century where teachers have a lot of skills and not using the growth models which seems to be insensitive to teacher’s abilities. He wants a system which can include communication, collaboration and even information knowledge.

In addition, Senator Obama believes that what is needed in improving the NCLB operations, so that it can be more accountable in order for the system to support schools which require to be improved rather than punishing these schools.  (Teddy and Miller, 2008)

However, Obama also agrees with McCain on the issue of NCLB pushing teachers to teach math. Obama feels that though teachers know that they have duty of teaching math, they feel as if they are pushed to do so by NCLB. But he offers a solution regarding math and science subjects, Obama believes that the way to solve the issue is by making the two subject to be a national main concern so that more graduates holding math and science degrees are recruited into the teaching profession to improve the teaching of these two subjects.

As pertaining if the NCLB has restricted the school curriculum, senator Obama views are that yes, indeed the NCLB has narrowed the curriculum. A fact that senator McCain views as not being correct.

Despite the fact that both senator McCain and Obama concur on the crucial role the teacher plays, and the importance of pedagogy as well as teaching profession advancement, the two senators disagree on the need of a complete NCLB financing. Senator Obama is calling for universal pre-K and timely autism testing. On the contra, McCain thinks that NCLB has done a lot of good; he attributes it with collection of enough information which can be put in use when recompensing teachers who raise the performance of their students

School voucher system

On school vouchers, McCain supports them and say that it is the right moment to apply tools such as school vouchers and merit pay in education system to move away from the usual manner of using education policy.  Annie (2008) explains that, McCain has suggested improving and increasing the amount spend by the federal government on school voucher plan.

But senator Obama has dismissed the using of school vouchers by those American who have a low-income. According to Obama this is the best way of improving education standards. However tough this move is welcomed by the teaching fraternity, it raises concerns with the parents. (Obama, 2008)

Merit pay

Senator McCain wants the performance based merit pay and also the differentiated pay to continue and he supports these pay systems for the teachers. On the contra, senator Obama is opposed to the usual merit pay method for the teachers. This system to him is ties the teacher’s salary to the student’s performance in test scores and to him is not the best way to pay teachers. Nonetheless, Obama supports a creative career path for teachers as well as local payment practices founded on “classroom performance” basing on the local interpretation.

Senator Obama (2008) on his website states that, more methods should be incorporated when considering rewarding of teachers instead of merit pay alone. He proposes using assessment systems such as mentorship. However, it seems that even senator McCain also agrees that they mentorship is in important in teaching profession.

General overviews of the two candidates

Senator McCain wants an education platform which is based on accountability, added thorough teaching standards, reforming the teacher licensure as well as the position that federal spending should be put where students are; in classrooms. In wrapping it up McCain education platform is placed on his readiness to tackle views and issues in which he understands that he will face opposition.

According to Mayer (2008) they makes an observation that, Obama stands on education platform which stresses that teachers should be seen as being “interventions”. He wants teaching profession to be transformed through improving teacher training, financial support from federal government, and better compensation terms. His main position is also the NCLB which he wants it to widen its assessment systems to assess broader aspects of student’s skills as well as their knowledge. In addition Obama also underscores the need to enhance education in the early childhood and that education policies need o holistic in approach in encompass child health as well as his/her wellbeing


Education plays an important role in the development of a country and is a major concern for all American citizens. The position taken by the two presidential candidates differ in a number of aspects particularly on NCLB. However, there have been areas that both have concurred. In general the positions taken by the two presidential candidates seem to indicate their standing of their respective campaigns for president of America. Senator McCain position on education matters seem to be in line with those of the current administration, though there is some difference particularly on the NCLB accountability scheme. As for senator Barrack Obama, his stand on education issues in America seem to be based on the two main points; the need to raise federal spending on education and also to modify education policies to be in line with the changes which have occurred in all our systems, technology, social, health etc. In short to modernize the current education practices.


-Obama vs. McCain (Education) retrieved from:

Annie, D (2008): Obama v. McCain Education Policy Debate: Retrieved from:

Bernstein, D (2007): The Speech: Chicago Magazine.

Congress (2008): Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues:

Eduflack (2008): Some Ed Reccs for Senator Obama: retrieved from: http://blog.eduflackcom/200/06/06/some-ed-reccs-for-senator-obama.aspx

Kammer, J (2008): Lobbyists of John McCain on education policies, The Arizona Republic

Mayer, W (2008): Candidates speaks on Education policies: New York Times

McCain (2008): (2008 U.S. presidential campaign): retrieved from:

Nedra, P (2008): McCain, Obama fail to agree NCLB, Associated Press, Google News; June

Obama (2008): (2008 U.S. presidential campaign): retrieved from:

Teddy, D and Miller, S (2008): Obama Bucks Party Line on Education: available online at:     ABC News

Woodward, C (2008): McCain’s Policies on healthcare and education Associated Press via USA Today


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