D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee calls herself a "card-carrying Democrat," but said Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain is her guy when it comes to his support for the federal "No Child Left Behind" law.
Rhee, speaking this evening in Chinatown to the Korean American Coalition D.C. Chapter, accused Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama of "pandering to the teachers union and other folks" with their attacks on the law, which sets student achievement targets for school districts and allows parents more choice in selecting schools.
"I am incredibly dismayed at the Democratic candidates for the views and the rhetoric they are spewing," she told the gathering at Tony Cheng's Restaurant. "The Democratic Party is the party that looks out for poor miniority kids, and NCLB is a huge, huge tool."
Clinton has been critical of the law's reliance on standardized testing. Obama says it has been under funded and poorly administered by the Department of Education.
McCain has also called for changes to the law before it is reauthorized by Congress. But Rhee called him "far and away" the stronger ally of NCLB.
"I think McCain has the most measured approach to how he will approach NCLB and is genuine in his belief that accountability is necessary," she said. "He is not rushing to judgment, which I think the Democrats are right now."
Rhee also expressed unhappiness at what she regards as the lack of attention Clinton and Obama have paid to the national disgrace of children stuck in poor-performing public school systems.
"The fact that Hillary and Barack are not on a daily basis talking about what kind of an outrage this is staggering to me," she said.