Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Video Diary: Edwards Speaks to NEA Annual Meeting

Yesterday, I went to Philadelphia to see John Edwards speak at the NEA annual meeting, then later at the ACORN presidential candidates forum. Today's diary focuses on the NEA event. Tomorrow I will post one on ACORN.

Edwards gave a rousing speech on education that was well received by the NEA audience. Video and some key points:

Part 1 of the video:

Edwards started by making an announcement that, although Congress has recently raised the minimum wage, he would go further as president and raise it to $9.50 an hour by 2012.

It's time to get rid of pension offsets for educators. Teachers deserve to get Social Security too. This policy announcement was greeted with applause so loud and sustained, that I couldn't hear the next paragraph of what he said. Here is a short video of that portion of the speech from the Edwards campaign, which is easier to hear:

He made a series of points about education:

The president must listen to teachers, and should bring back the teacher in residence program.

Early childhood education needs to be expanded.

No Child Left Behind needs to be dealt with and fixed. While talking about No Child Left Behind, he held up a T-shirt that said "a child is more than a test score." This generated a lot of applause from the audience.

Edwards said that standardized tests don't work and asked what the intent of No Child Left Behind really was. He pointed out that when the president has a program called No Child Left Behind, but doesn't fund it, the real intent is probably to undermine the public schools and make room for voucher programs.

Part 2 of the video:

Edwards talked about empowering teachers, creating second chance schools for dropouts, and his College for Everyone program, which would pay for tuition and books for the first year of college for kids who are willing to work 10 hours a week while they're there.

He emphasized his support for the public schools, which all of his children have attended, and said that we should not drain resources away from them with voucher programs.

Part 3 of the video:

In the final part of his speech, he spoke of organized labor as the greatest antipoverty movement in American history. His support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow any worker to join a union by signing a card, earned him a standing ovation.

After his speech, he was asked two questions sent in by NEA members.

The first question asked how he would close the achievement gap by breaking down racial and economic barriers.

Question on breaking down economic and racial barriers.

His answer included expanding early childhood education, incentives for teachers to teach in poor communities, and getting parents more involved, but then he went beyond that to address some of his plans for eliminating poverty.

The last question he was asked was about No Child Left Behind. His answer was hilarious. I'm not going to describe it. You have to watch the video.

Question on No Child Left Behind.

After his speech to the NEA, Edwards gave a short press conference. It was held in a corner of a noisy public area of the conference center, so even though I was standing quite close to him, it was very difficult to hear what he said. I did manage to record a short video of his announcement about his plan to raise the minimum wage.

From what I could hear of the rest of the press conference, he mentioned the following points:

He said he doesn't think anyone else has proposed College for Everyone.

On No Child Left Behind, he said major changes are needed. The tests are intrusive, and they don't take into account struggling schools. There should be SWAT teams to help struggling schools. We need tests that are more responsive to the needs of states and individual schools. They need flexibility to use their own testing methods. In many cases this would yield more accurate information on student progress.

Asked how he pays for his College for Everyone program, he said it would be paid for by changing the way we do student loans. We can save upwards of $3 billion by making loans available directly from the government to students.

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Blogger CareShare Network said...

It's great that you're taking the time to document so many of Mr. Edwards' position on the issues.

July 03, 2007

Blogger AstroGirl said...

Thank you. The mainstream media doesn't do a good job of covering issues, so I believe it's my duty as a citizen to get the word out about my candidates excellent platform.

July 03, 2007


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