Greeted with strains of "New York, New York," first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted the National Education Association's top honor today at a meeting of the nation's largest teachers union.
It was the first time the 2.4 million-member union had given its Friend of Education Award to a president's wife, and Clinton used the opportunity to lay out her ideas on education.
That included a slap at school vouchers in Florida, where the nation's first statewide voucher plan was signed into law last month by Gov. Jeb Bush, younger brother of Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush. She said that in districts where vouchers are already in place, such as Milwaukee and Cleveland, there has been no evidence that test scores are rising. "What they have done is divert badly needed public funds," she said.
Florida's voucher plan, opposed by the NEA, allows children from poorly performing schools to attend private schools at public expense.
Clinton adhered to the administration's broad primary and secondary education goals in her speech. She said educators should expect every child to succeed "and hold every one of them to high academic standards." She called for smaller schools and classrooms and increased spending on school construction and rehabilitation.