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Left and right: How the two parties stand on education
At the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, the headlining speech by First Lady Michelle Obama made it clear that Democrats are honing in on education on the campaign trail.
Ann Romney too, talked about parents' hopes and dreams for their children to get a good education in her speech last week at the Republican National Convention.
Obama made it clear that voters in November will be presented with clear choices. Hudson Valley parents and educators could see substantative shifts in the approach to education under a Republican president.
On Tuesday, Democrats adopted their platform, giving the public an opportunity to compare the two parties' positions on education.
The Dems clearly align themselves with President Barack Obama's policies and approach, including the Race to the Top initiative. And, while his GOP challenger Mitt Romney has diverged from some parts of the Republic platform, Education Week says the party platform closely mirrors the candidates' views.
So what are the major differences?
Both platforms talk about accountablitiy and local flexibility.
Democrats continue their support for the emphasis over the last four years, including a focus on teacher evaluation systems and a call to raise standards in teacher training programs. They also hone in on specific policies enacted to help college students afford higher education, including changes to federal loan programs and increased funding to Pell grants.
When it comes to K-12 education, Republicans argue that more money isn't the way to create better schools. Their platform focuses heavily on school choice and local control, including favoring school funding that follows children to the places they want to learn. There are also ideological opinions on what should be taught in schools, including favoring abstinence education, a focus on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution and English-first approaches to teaching students who speak another language.
On the college level, Republicans only offer a few insights into their policy. They emphasize that colleges be “places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.” They also oppose the Obama program that made the government the direct loan source for students.
Democrat Platform on Education
• Cites achievements of Race to the Top intiative.
• Give states and communities flexibility and resources to improve elementary and secondary education.
• Expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.
• Raise standards for teacher preparation programs. Recognize and reward good teaching, retain good teachers.
• Support teacher evaluation systems that give struggling teachers a chance to succeed.
• Support public funding for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools.
• Continue support for investment in Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
• Continue support for student loan program reform that made federal government direct loan giver to students, removing banks as middlemen.
• Continue support for reducing federal aid to colleges that that do not keep costs down.
• Invest in colleges that keep tuition affordable and provide good value.
• Continue to ensure that students have access to federal loans with reasonable interest rates.
• Continue support for investing in student loan system to strengthen minority-serving colleges and universities.
• Continue support for investing in community colleges and calling for partnerships between businesses and community colleges to train two million workers.
• Propose to double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade.
• Oppose deporting young people who are Americans in every way but on paper
• Work to make it possible for foreign students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to stay and help create jobs here at home.
Republican Platform on Education
• More money not a solution for improving schools.
• No one-size-fits-all approach to education.
• Support broad education choices at the state and local level.
• Establish accountability at every stage of schooling.
• Meet higher expectations for all students
• Facilitate state and local control of our schools
• Make consumer rights in education and school choice as the most important driving force for renewing schools.
• Create programs that support the development of character and financial literacy
• Allow for periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography.
• Renew focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation.
• Require transparency, so parents and the public can discover which schools best serve their pupils.
• Allow for flexibility and freedom to innovate.
• Support the following policies: Building on the basics, especially science, technology, engineering, and math subjects and phonics; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards.
• Proper implementation of technology for equal access and opportunity.
• Alternate learning options (home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, full-day school hours, and year-round schools).
• School choice – charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits.
• Promote local career and technical educational programs and entrepreneurial programs.
• Support block grants and the repeal of federal regulations that interfere with state and local control.
• Federal funding Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for disabled youngsters should follow students to schools of choice.
• Family literacy programs, which improve the reading, language, and life skills of both parents and children from low-income families.
• Support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society.
• Replace “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education.
• Oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.
• Protect teachers against frivolous litigation and allow them to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom.
• Support legislation that will correct the current law provision which defines a “Highly Qualified Teacher” merely by his or her credentials, not results in the classroom.
• Replace “last in, first out” tenure with merit-based approach to teachers.
• Background checks for school personnel.
• State officials should ensure that public colleges and universities be “places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”
• Support new systems of learning to compete with traditional four-year colleges.
• Provide families with greater transparency and information to make choices about a student’s future: completion rates, repayment rates, future earnings, etc.
• Oppose federal government originating student loans; instead it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students.