By Vidya Pradhan
Investment in quality education and a vision for increasing the competitiveness of future American workers is a crucial long-term issue that often gets forgotten in the immediacy of political campaigning. (Though one education legislation has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. A ridiculous and deceptive ad by the McCain campaign accused Obama of creating legislation to teach sex to kindergarteners. The facts? Obama supported, not sponsored, a bill whose purpose was primarily to make kids aware of the dangers of sexual predators.)
Here are the two candidates’ views on education.
- A comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan that provides for the early care and education of children.
- Expand Early Head Start and Head Start.
- Reform No Child Left Behind by improving funding, supporting schools that need improvement and improving the assessment guidelines for schools.
- Make math and science education a national priority.
- Expand summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged kids
- Support college outreach programs to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers through Scholarship programs and incentive programs
Make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, among other things.
- Sponsored( with Mike Honda) the Enhancing STEM( science, technology,engineering, mathematics) Act
- Sponsored Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act(S2111).
- Sponsored Back to School: Improving Standards for Nutrition and Physical Education in Schools Act of 2007(S2066).
- First Senate bill: increase Pell Grant from $4,050 to $5,100. (Aug 2007)
- Sponsored legislations that recruit and reward good teachers. (Sep 2004)
- Voted YES on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
- Voted YES on $5B for grants to local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
Voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
On his overall philosophy on education -“I believe it's time to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education. One where we all come together for the sake of our children's success; an era where each of us does our part to make that success a reality – parents and teachers; leaders in Washington and citizens all across America.” May 2008.
On the intersection of religion and science – “I do believe in evolution. I don't think that is incompatible with Christian faith. Just as I don't think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind, then somehow you should reject religion. And I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I'm amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe. And it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it.” April, 2008.
- Will focus federal resources on ensuring that the neediest children have access to a range of high quality early education programs.
- Will Build On The Lessons Of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
- Encourage Alternative Certification Methods That Open The Door For Highly Motivated Teachers To Enter The Field.
- Provide Bonuses For Teachers Who Locate In Underperforming Schools And Demonstrate Strong Leadership As Measured By Student Improvement.
- Will Ensure Children Struggling To Meet State Standards Will Have Immediate Access To High Quality Tutoring Programs. These may be private providers who are federally certified.
- Will target $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support development of online course offerings for students.
- Believes charters, homeschooling and vouchers are key to success.
- No new education bills sponsored.
- Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
- Voted NO on $5B for grants to
local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
- Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
- Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
- Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
- Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction. (Apr 2001)
- Voted YES on declaring memorial prayers and religious symbols OK at schools. (May 1999)
- Voted YES on allowing more flexibility in federal school rules. (Mar 1999)
- Voted YES on education savings accounts. (Jun 1998)
- Voted YES on school vouchers in DC. (Sep 1997)
- Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education. (Jul 1996)
- Voted YES on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer. (Jul 1994)
- Voted NO on national education standards. (Feb 1994)
On creationism being taught in public schools – “I think that every American should be exposed to all theories. There's no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was in what we are today. And I do believe that we are unique, and I believe that God loves us. But I also believe that all of our children in school can be taught different views on different issues. I leave the curricula up to the school boards.” June 2007
Voting records from Ontheissues.org