If elected President, what would you do to ensure that all American children have equal access to a high quality public education?
I was proud to co-sponsor the Student Bill of Rights Act, which would ensure that all children have
access to the educational resources and support that are critical to student achievement. Current law
requires that schools within the same district provide comparable educational services. This
legislation would extend that protection to the state level by requiring comparability across school
When I am President, I will invest more resources in areas where the students have the greatest
need. For example, I will provide funding to help recruit and retain great teachers in underserved
areas. Under this initiative, which is a part of my broader plan to cut minority dropout rates in half,
high-need schools will be able to use these funds to offer higher salaries for experienced teachers
who agree to serve in these roles for at least three years. Schools will also receive additional funds
to provide professional development to support teachers and improve their working conditions.
I believe that equal access to a high quality public education must start from the very beginning.
That's why I have a plan to provide universal voluntary pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds,
starting with children from low-income and non-English-speaking households.
In response to the recent Supreme Court decision proscribing certain voluntary reasonable steps to
increase diversity of student bodies in public schools, I will direct my Justice Department consult
with local school districts and help them to pursue voluntary integration and racial equality
programs in compliance with the law.
I've introduced a comprehensive plan to give every American child the chance to receive the best
education America has to offer.
The first part of my plan focuses on providing quality, affordable early childhood education to every
American child. I will launch a Children's First Agenda that provides care, learning and support to
families with children ages zero to five. I will create Early Learning Grants to help states create a
system of high-quality early care and education for all young children and their families, so that
children are prepared and ready to succeed before they enter kindergarten. I will increase Head
Start funding and quadruple Early Start to include a quarter of a million at-risk children.
The second part of my education plan is to recruit, support, and reward teachers and principals to
ensure that every school in America is filled with outstanding educators. I will create a new Service
Scholarship program to recruit top talent into the profession, and place these teachers in our
The third part of my plan is to work with our nation's governors and educators to create and use
assessments that can improve achievement in school districts all across America by including the
kinds of research, scientific investigation, and problem-solving that our children will need to
compete in a 21st century knowledge economy.
If elected President, please describe some of the initiatives your Administration would undertake to increase funding for public education.
When I am President, I will fully fund and reform No Child Left Behind. When the No Child Left
Behind Act was enacted, I viewed it as a historic promise between the federal government and
educators. Today, that promise has been broken.
I will also make investments in our children from their earliest years until adulthood. I plan to
quadruple Early Head Start, which I helped to create when I was First Lady, and to increase Head
Start funding to $8 billion by 2010. I also plan to invest $10 billion to provide universal voluntary
pre-kindergarten for all fouryear-olds, as I mentioned earlier.
We also need to give our children the resources to succeed throughout primary and second schools.
To that end, I will double over five years federal support for early intervention mentoring programs,
like GEAR UP. I will also invest $100 million in a new public/private summer internship program,
and I will double the number of education and job-training opportunities over five years.
I also have an agenda to make college more affordable and more accessible to all Americans, which
I address in question ED4.
I share the NAACP's concerns about No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I believe that the overall goal
of the NCLB is the right one -ensuring that all children can meet high standards -but the law has
significant flaws that need to be addressed, including the lack of necessary resources to fully
implement the plan. We have simply failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and
failed to support and pay for those teachers. That's why I have introduced will increase federal
public education spending by about $18 billion per year to ensure that all of America's children - no
matter where they are located - have meaningful access to a high-quality public education.
If elected President, what if any steps would you take regarding publicly funded vouchers to allow students to attend private school?
I strongly oppose voucher schemes because they divert precious resources away from financially
strapped public schools to private schools that are not subject to the same accountability standards
or teacher-quality standards. It would be harmful to our democracy if we dismantled our public
school system through vouchers, and there is no evidence that doing so would improve outcomes for
children. We learned from a recent Department of Education study that students who use vouchers
in D.C. to attend private schools do no better on math and reading tests than do their counterparts in
public schools. And there are many examples of public schools in low-income communities that are
doing great work against all odds. I believe we should support these schools --not undermine them.
We need to invest in our public schools and strengthen them, not drain their fiscal support. And for
this reason I do not support vouchers. In the end, vouchers would reduce the options available to
children in need. I fear these children would truly be left behind in a private market system.
If elected President, please describe initiatives that you would promote to make college more affordable.
In October, I unveiled a plan to make college more affordable and more accessible to all
Americans. Today, the most important doorway into the middle class is education beyond high
school. Yet, too many families, especially low-income and middle-class families, cannot afford to
send their children to college. At the heart of my plan is a $3,500 tuition tax credit, which will cover
more than 50 percent of the cost of tuition at an average public institution. I will also increase the
maximum Pell Grant, and I will maintain its value by adjusting it annually to take into account the
rising costs of college tuition. I will provide $500 million to community colleges and $250 million
to four-year colleges to strengthen their programs, rein in tuition and fees, and increase graduation
rates. Because of the rising cost and other factors, such as poor academic preparation, fewer
African-American students are likely to attend college than their white peers. Lastly, I will support
and strengthen historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs have played a major role in
producing generations of African American leaders -Martin. Luther King, Jr., Mayor David
Dinkins, Marian Wright Edelman, Thurgood Marshall. In the Senate, I co-sponsored legislation to
increase funding for these institutions and, as President, I will make sure that HBCUs have
continued federal resources to continue playing their vital role. Completing a college education is
important for life-long economic success. Today, a college graduate earns twice as much as a high
school graduate - the equivalent of a million-dollar bonus over a working lifetime -which is why I
am committed to making college more affordable and accessible to all.
The very first bill I introduced in the United States Senate sought to increase the maximum Pell
Grant award to $5,100. As part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that was signed into
law in September, we moved one step closer toward reaching that goal by increasing the current
maximum to $4,310 in 2007 and to $5,400 by 2012. The Act also mandates that interest rates on
subsidized student loans are cut in half over four years. 1 sat on the Conference Committee that won
these improvements in the bill.
But there is more we can do. That is why, as president, I will create a new American Opportunity
Tax Credit to help American families who are struggling to send their children to college. This fully
refundable $4,000 tax credit will be provided to students before they have to pay their tuition bills. I
will also simplify the financial aid application process by eliminating the current student aid form
I will also seek to free up money for student aid by reforming the federal student loan program.
Currently, there are two basic federal loan programs. The Direct Loan system allows students to
borrow from the government through their schools. The Federal Family Education Loan Program
(FFEL) instead gives private banks federal subsidies to make government-backed student loans.
FFEL guaranteed loans cost about $6 more per $100 loan than direct loans. As president, I will
eliminate wasteful subsidies for banks under FFEL and mandate that all federal student loans be
provided through the direct loan program. By switching to the direct lending system, we can save
taxpayers billions of dollars a year - money that can and should be directed to making college more
affordable for Americans.
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Vernellia Randall. All Rights Reserved
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