Tim Kaine stood on a blue stool behind a podium at Spring Garden Elementary and proclaimed his love for Philadelphia.
“What a beautiful day,” the VP candidate said to small, handpicked group of schoolkids, parents and media including Billy Penn, playing his dad role to the T. “Is it always sunny…in Philadelphia?”
He talked about how nice the weather was during the DNC (nevermind that there was a monsoon the Monday of the convention and rain on the Thursday and Friday) and how it was “one of the two best weeks of the campaign.” Though polls show Clinton’s lead widening in Pennsylvania, Kaine said “we don’t take anything for granted.”
Thus the visit here to Spring Garden Elementary, where Kaine — and others such as Philadelphia Federation of Teachers leader Jerry Jordan and American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten — emphasized views on schools as part of a “walk-in” day promoting better funding. Kaine worked closely with schools as the Richmond mayor and as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, and his wife, Anne Holton, is the former secretary of education in Virginia.
Here are the three main takeaways from his visit and how they apply to Pennsylvania.
Keeping funding high in Pennsylvania
Kaine criticized Trump’s plan emphasizing school choice and promoting vouchers, saying it would lead to federal funding for education to be cut in half. Kaine said in Pennsylvania Trump’s plan would put 741,000 students at risk.
Later on while addressing reporters, Weingarten talked about how Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have already felt the effects from a lack of funding, and blamed the former Mayor Michael Nutter and former Governor Tom Corbett.
“This city’s former mayor and former governor,” she said, “did what Trump is trying to do: Divide and conquer. Divide and conquer.”
Kaine’s major curriculum and policy points
Kaine wants something nationally that Philly is already attempting to do: Expanding early childhood education. He also supports a greater emphasis on computer science as part of the curriculum and less state-mandated testing.
“A teacher once said to me a farmer doesn’t grow its pig by weighing it more times,” Kaine said. “And what this teacher was saying in that colorful phrase is that testing 5 or 10 more times doesn’t make your kids smarter.”
Getting teachers front and center
When Kaine was mayor of Richmond, he said he spent about an hour every Tuesday visiting a public school in the city as a way to see what he called the reality of the state’s policies. What he learned on these visits, such as details on the emphasis of mandated testing, helped change his views. For the policies he could shape in office, Kaine said he wants to do something similar and invite teachers to be part of any conversation.
“We’ve got to have teachers around the table,” he said, “as we are figuring out the 21st century of American public education.”