Contrast: Part 3 -- Education

Continuing over the weeks leading up to the presidential election, I'm posting some 'political' entries -- contrasting the plans of the two major-party candidates for president.

I encourage you to take a look at the issues – and decide which candidate you support. (If you've already made up your mind -- look at the issues to be better informed!)

Today: Education

The two candidates share many views on education. Senator Obama seems to have a more detailed plan on most items, yet Senator McCain has very specific ideas about virtual learning/online education programs. Senator Obama is a strong advocate of support for community colleges (Many have virtual learning programs in place.)

The two main areas of contrast are No Child Left Behind and School Choice. Senator Obama wants to reform No Child Left Behind and offer school choice within the public school system. (Public school choice isn’t spelled out on his website, but Senator Obama has been a vocal supporter of public school choice) Senator McCain wants to improve No Child Left Behind and offer more liberal school choice. (Private vouchers aren’t mentioned, but have been championed by Senator McCain) Senator McCain also lists "eliminating earmarks" as part of improving higher education research. I'm not sure how the two are connected, however.

Barack Obama: (From the Obama Campaign site )

Early Childhood Education

  • Zero to Five Plan: Places key emphasis at early care and education for infants. Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
  • Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
  • Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.

  • Reform No Child Left Behind: Fund the law. Improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace Improve NCLB's accountability system to support schools that need improvement, rather than punish them.
  • Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools
  • Make Math and Science Education a National Priority
  • Address the Dropout Crisis: Passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school
  • Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: for more than one million more children.
  • Support College Outreach Programs: Encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
  • Support College Credit Initiatives: Create a national "Make College A Reality" initiative - increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016. Provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.
  • Support English Language Learners: Support transitional bilingual education and help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers

  • Recruit Teachers: Create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
  • Prepare Teachers: Require all schools of education to be accredited. Create a voluntary national performance assessment so every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
  • Retain Teachers: Expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. Provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
  • Reward Teachers: Promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.
Higher Education

  • Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: 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, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
  • Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

John McCain (From the McCain website )

  • Enact Meaningful Reform In Education. Demand real, new reform earned through discipline, grinding work, tough choices and leadership.
  • Equality Of Choice. Too many of our children are trapped by geography and by economics in failing schools.
  • Empower Parents with critical knowledge about their child's performance, and empower them with real and meaningful choices to act upon that knowledge.
  • Empower Teachers: Ensure that every child has the opportunity to be inspired and motivated to achieve their potential by a strong classroom leader.
  • Build On The Lessons Of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Emphasize standards and accountability. The goal cannot be group averages. Instead, inspire every child to strive to reach his or her potential
  • Provide Effective Education Leadership: Provide the resources needed to succeed. Invest in people, parents and reward achievement.
  • Ensure That Our Children Have Quality Teachers.
  • 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.
  • Provide Funding For Needed Professional Teacher Development.
  • Empower School Principals With Greater Control Over Spending. Let School principles have the purse-strings.
  • Give Parents Greater Choice: More control over education money.
  • Expand The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
  • Ensure Children Struggling To Meet State Standards Will Have Immediate Access To High Quality Tutoring Programs.
  • Expand Virtual Learning By Reforming The "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program."
  • Allocate $250 Million Through A Competitive Grant Program To Support States That Commit To Expanding Online Education Opportunities.
  • Offer $250 Million For Digital Passport Scholarships To Help Students Pay For Online Tutors Or Enroll In Virtual Schools.

Higher Education Policy

  • Prepare for the 21st Century in Higher Education: Encourage the government to support innovative approaches to education, removing regulatory barriers that prevent us from moving forward with new ideas.
  • Improve Information for Parents
  • Simplify Higher Education Tax Benefits
  • Simplify Federal Financial Aid
  • Improve Research by Eliminating Earmarks
  • Fix the Student Lending Programs

Next up: Veterans

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