Wednesday, October 22

Comparison of McCain & Obama Education Plans

This site has been swamped with google searches for information on McCain and Obama's education plans. It's nice to see so many people doing their homework on the issues.

So with only 13 days until we all head to the polls, I thought it would be a good idea to turn our attention back to the issues and look again where each candidate stands. Let's start with Education and see where the candidates agree and disagree on these big issues: Funding Public Education, No Child Left Behind, School Choice, College Costs and Teacher Training.

Funding Public Education
McCain intends to keep the full federal funding for schools; he just wants to give more of that money to parents for them to send their kids to the public, private or religious schools of their choice. He has also said that he would like to commit a total of $750 million to develop "virtual schools" and curriculums, allowing students to take online classes in science, math and foreign languages.

Obama has said that his education proposals would cost about $18 billion and would be funded by trimming NASA's budget and auctioning surplus federal properties, among other measures. But most of the Illinois senator's education proposals are so costly that they would require Congress to approve additional new spending. He says he wants to make "a historic commitment" to education, because he wants to give every American child the same chances he had.

Rethinking the No Child Left Behind Act
McCain voted for the 2001 law, which has given the federal government unprecedented authority over testing, academic standards and the rating of the nation's public schools. However, he has joined critics — Democrats and Republicans alike — who say the law needs major fixes. Unlike conservatives and some members of Congress, McCain does not want to scrap the law entirely. Instead, he wants to provide more tutoring services for students who are behind before he tackles NCLB.

Obama was not in the U.S. Senate when Congress voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, but he supported it in the Illinois state legislature. His biggest criticism of the law is that it has been ineffective and inadequately funded. He also has said it relies too heavily on poorly designed tests to gauge progress in reading and math at the expense of a well-rounded education. Obama says he doesn't want to get rid of testing, but he does want to work more closely with governors to come up with better written tests that help teachers pinpoint students' weaknesses.

School Choice: Vouchers, Charters and Home Schooling
McCain supports vouchers, home schooling, charter schools and generally any policy that helps parents choose the private or public school that they want their children to attend. School choice, McCain argues, will create market forces that will spur competition among schools, not just for students but for the best teachers. He has also said that he would expand federally funded vouchers called Opportunity Scholarships that would let more parents pick the school of their choice.

Obama also wants to give parents more options when they pick a school for their children, but he would limit those choices to public charter schools. He does not support vouchers for children to attend private and parochial schools.

Keeping College Costs Low
Both McCain and Obama support providing more money for needy college students, as well as the recent efforts by Congress and the Bush administration to shore up the student loan program, which has been hit hard by the credit crunch.

Obama would like to introduce a new tax credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is free for most students, in exchange for 100 hours of community service. This plan would cost about $10 billion a year. Obama says he can save billions of dollars by overhauling the federal student loan program, and creating a system that bypasses banks and private lenders in favor of having the U.S. Education Department run a direct lending program. He also wants to double the size of the Peace Corps and expand Ameri-Corp and other national service programs.

McCain wants to make college more affordable by supporting a big increase in Pell Grants that Congress approved for needy students in 2007. McCain also backed the expansion of low-interest loans for middle-class families who are struggling to keep up with college tuition increases.

Training Teachers
Obama would require all schools of education to be accredited and then figure out which colleges are doing the best job of training teachers. Obama is the first presidential candidate ever to make such a proposal. His proposal borrows many ideas from several commissions that promote the national certification of teachers, more mentoring programs for first-year teachers, and merit pay for the best teachers.

McCain has said that he supports merit pay for teachers, including giving bonuses to teachers who work in the most troubled schools. He also wants to recruit more top teachers who have graduated in the top 25 percent of their class, or who participated in an "alternative teacher recruitment program," such as Teach for America.

How much of these plans will be possible given the new economic climate of the nation? That remains to be seen, but it's a safe bet that many of their aggressive and costly ideas will be put on hold.

via NPR


Kat said...

Excellent and accurate summation of both candidates plans. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am all in favor of educational help for moms especially scholarships for mothers. There should be more programs to help pay for their education. They are the backbone of our society and they should have more education support from the government.


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