Issues: Education

What does "Faithful Citizenship" say about education?

"All persons have a right to receive a quality education. Young people, including those who are poor and those with disabilities, need to have the opportunity to develop intellectually, morally, spiritually, and physically, allowing them to become good citizens who make socially and morally responsible decisions. This requires parental choice in education. It also requires educational institutions to have orderly, just, respectful, and non-violent environments where adequate professional and material resources are available. The USCCB strongly supports adequate funding, including scholarships, tax credits, and other means, to educate all persons no matter what their personal condition or what school they attend--public, private, or religious. All teachers and administrators deserve salaries and benefits that reflect principles of economic justice, as well as access to resources necessary for teachers to prepare for their important tasks. Services aimed at improving education--especially for those most at risk--that are available to students and teachers in public schools should also be available to students and teachers in private and religious schools as a matter of justice." #84

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 2007)

What does the Democratic National Platform say about education?

"In the platform hearings, Americans made it clear that it is morally and economically unacceptable that our high-schoolers continue to score lower on math and science tests than most other students in the world and continue to drop-out at higher rates than their peers in other industrialized nations. We cannot accept the persistent achievement gap between minority and white students or the harmful disparities that exist between different schools within a state or even a district. Americans know we can and should do better.

"The Democratic Party firmly believes that graduation from a quality public school and the opportunity to succeed in college must be the birthright of every child--not the privilege of the few. We must prepare all our students with the 21st century skills they need to succeed by progressing to a new era of mutual responsibility in education. We must set high standards for our children, but we must also hold ourselves accountable--our schools, our teachers, our parents, business leaders, our community and our elected leaders....

"We will make quality, affordable early childhood care and education available to every American child from the day he or she is born. Our Children's First Agenda, including increases in Head Start and Early Head Start, and investments in high-quality Pre-K, will improve quality and provide learning and support to families with children ages zero to five....

"We must ensure that every student has a high-quality teacher and an effective principal. That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals by making this pledge--if you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education. We'll provide better preparation, mentoring and career ladders. Where there are teachers who are still struggling and underperforming we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they're still underperforming after that, we should find a quick and fair way--consistent with due process--to put another teacher in that classroom....

"We will fix the failures and broken promises of No Child Left Behind--while holding to the goal of providing every child access to a world-class education, raising standards, and ensuring accountability for closing the achievement gap. We will end the practice of labeling a school and its students as failures and then throwing our hands up and walking away from them without having provided the resources and supports these students need. But this alone is not an education policy. It's just a starting point. We will work with our nation's governors and educators to create and use assessments that will improve student learning and success in school districts all across America by including the kinds of critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that our children will need....

"We support full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We also support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by supporting and funding English Language Learner classes....

"We believe that our universities, community colleges, and other institutions of higher learning must foster among their graduates the skills needed to enhance economic competitiveness. We will work with institutions of higher learning to produce highly skilled graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines who will become innovative workers prepared for the 21st century economy.

"At community colleges and training programs across the country, we will invest in short-term accelerated training and technical certifications for the unemployed and under-employed to speed their transition to careers in high-demand occupations and emerging industries....

"We will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans. In exchange for the credit, students will be expected to perform community service. We will continue to support programs, especially the Pell Grant program, that open the doors of college opportunity to low-income Americans. We will enable families to apply for financial aid simply by checking a box on their tax form."

What does Barack Obama say about education?

"This probably has more to do with our economic future than anything and that means it also has a national security implication, because there's never been a nation on earth that saw its economy decline and continued to maintain its primacy as a military power.

"So we've got to get our education system right. Now, typically, what's happened is that there's been a debate between more money or reform, and I think we need both.

"In some cases, we are going to have to invest. Early childhood education, which closes the achievement gap, so that every child is prepared for school, every dollar we invest in that, we end up getting huge benefits with improved reading scores, reduced dropout rates, reduced delinquency rates.

"I think it's going to be critically important for us to recruit a generation of new teachers, an army of new teachers, especially in math and science, give them higher pay, give them more professional development and support in exchange for higher standards and accountability.

"And I think it's important for us to make college affordable. Right now, I meet young people all across the country who either have decided not to go to college or if they're going to college, they are taking on $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, $60,000 worth of debt, and it's very difficult for them to go into some fields, like basic research in science, for example, thinking to themselves that they're going to have a mortgage before they even buy a house.

"And that's why I've proposed a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, in exchange for some form of community service, whether it's military service, whether it's Peace Corps, whether it's working in a community.

"If we do those things, then I believe that we can create a better school system.

"But there's one last ingredient that I just want to mention, and that's parents. We can't do it just in the schools. Parents are going to have to show more responsibility. They've got to turn off the TV set, put away the video games, and, finally, start instilling that thirst for knowledge that our students need....

"Sen. McCain and I actually agree on two things that he just mentioned.

"Charter schools, I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers unions. I think it's important to foster competition inside the public schools.

"And we also agree on the need for making sure that if we have bad teachers that they are swiftly -- after given an opportunity to prove themselves, if they can't hack it, then we need to move on because our kids have to have their best future.

"Where we disagree is on the idea that we can somehow give out vouchers -- give vouchers as a way of securing the problems in our education system." Third Presidential Debate, October 15, 1008

"I am where I am today because of the education that I received...." Sojourners Presidential Forum, June 4, 2007

For more, see barackobama.com "Education" and "Our Kids, Our Future", Manchester, NH, November 20, 2007, and "Reclaiming the American Dream," Bettendorf, IA, November 07, 2007.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Inaugural Address, President Obama


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