THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

McCain Makes the Pitch

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on July 18, 2008

A week or so ago we were critical of presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain for not accepting the invitation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to speak to the church’s recent General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.  Democratic likely nominee Sen. Barack Obama managed to speak to the 40,000 plus church group making the McCain absence that much more conspicuous. 

However, to his credit McCain did not pass up the opportunity to greet the nation’s oldest civil rights organization at its annual conference.  In a twenty minute plus speech to the delegates of the NAACP in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday McCain laid out an ambitious education plan that was greeted with more than just polite “golf” applause as he acknowledged the shortcomings of the present education system and African American students. 

McCain said that the present education system is failing African American children and there needs for some substantive reform and the NAACP can help “…[N]owhere are the limitations of conventional thinking any more apparent than in education policy. Education reform has long been a priority of the NAACP, and for good reason. For all the best efforts of teachers and administrators, the worst problems of our public school system are often found in black communities. Black and Latino students are among the most likely to drop out of high school. African Americans are also among the least likely to go on to college…”

Many people, including Rev. Al Sharpton and some African American elected officials, think that education reform is the next frontier on the civil rights movement and or the most pressing issue facing African Americans in the country.  The applause received by McCain, who has talked about educational failure and African Americans before, should cause the Democratic Party some pause.  It has traditionally been the Republican Party that has walked the talk on education reform while the Democratic Party has scarcely mentioned the topic for fear of ticking off the powerful teacher’s union. 

While Obama sounds promising on the issue of reform, the party at large remains immobilized while it’s most faithful base shows growing signs of support for substantive reform.  Many in the GOP have long tried to figure out how to become competitive again with African Americans and we wonder if the issue of education reform will be the entry point that makes the Republican Party open to attracting African Americans again? 

After listening to Sen. John McCain yesterday he certainly hopes so.

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