Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says the nation’s education system is in "bad shape" and the next president needs to do something "radical."
"We should have universal pre-K for four-year-olds," Edwards said this weekend in Charles City. "…I want to have a national teaching university where we attract the best and the brightest and what we do is pay for their education and when they come out they go to the toughest places in America to teach (plus) bonuses for teachers that are teaching in the most difficult places."
Edwards said "education swat teams" should be sent into schools that aren’t making the grade under the terms of the current "no child left behind" law.
"We use cheap, standardized tests. We don’t get the kind of evaluation we need of each child’s performance. Instead, we’re testing one group of third graders against another group of third graders, so I think it needs to be radically changed," Edwards said. "Get the teacher more involved in the evaluation process. Look at a wider range of criteria, including higher thinking skills, analytical skills. We ought to be measuring the progress of each individual child from the beginning of the year to the end of the year."
Edwards said the government should get involved in ensuring more kids go on to college as well. "What I have proposed is something called College for Everyone where we say to every young person in the country, ‘If you graduate from high school and you’re qualified to go to college and you’ll work when you’re there at least 10 hours a week, America will pay for your tuition and books at a public university or community college,’" Edwards says. "We ought to make it easy for kids to go to college."
Edwards also made stops in Waverly, Cedar Falls, Mount Vernon, and Williamsburg on Sunday. He’ll continue on his two-day swing through the state today with stops in Iowa City, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, and Ames.
Robert Fisher of KRIB/KLSS in Mason City contributed to this report.