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Sampler: What the Presidential Candidates Are Saying About Education

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Following are examples of what the Presidential candidates are saying about education.


U.S. Vice President George Bush: "We should demand more from students--higher academic standards, with more emphasis on core courses like English, math, science, and history--and more homework. We should test students, early and often, to make sure they are learning what they should. We should put a stop to automatic promotion and graduation. And we should ensure that they can use a computer before they graduate from high school."

"We should demand more from teachers. To raise the quality in the classroom, we should have competency tests for beginning teachers, in the subject they teach and in the proper use of the English language. At the same time, we should break down the barriers to talented people who want to teach and who have demonstrated their competence in other fields."

U.S. Senator Robert Dole: "[I] believe that part of the problem with the quality of education is the quality of teaching. Although there are many talented and dedicated teachers in our nation's schools, there are also many who seek to improve their skills. Teacher-training programs should have more emphasis on substance and subject matter, and less emphasis on technique. In addition, colleges and universities should adopt more rigorous standards and higher expectations for the conduct and academic performance of future teachers."

"It might also be appropriate to initiate some form of teacher-competen4cy testing or certification. However, the objective of this proposal could be achieved by requiring more rigorous standards in teacher-education programs and by implementing master-teacher programs at the state level similar to the Tennessee program established under the leadership of former Gov. Lamar Alexander."

Pete du Pont, former Governor of Delaware: "Education is one of the last government monopolies. Government tells us where we go to school, what subjects we take, what we read, and what we learn. The way you break monopolies is with competition. Giving parents a greater say in where their kids go to school will force schools to improve. I would begin by providing current education assistance to the needy in the form of vouchers."

Alexander M. Haig Jr., former U.S. Secretary of State: "We should teach virtues not just values. Polls show that the American people want the schools, whether public or private, to teach students about moral behavior, including moral sexual behavior. Schools in a democracy also have a clear obligation to instruct students in our political system."

U.S. Representative Jack Kemp of New York: "Let us remember that the quality of our culture as well as the security of our nation are ultimately determined by the character of our children. Education must continue to be reformed along the lines of Secretary Bill Bennett--rewarding excellence, and the teaching of values."

Pat Robertson, founder and president of the Christian Broadcasting Network: "We will ensure8to them a return to a basic broad-based phonics approach to reading. Our children must learn basic language and basic math. They must know the facts of history--the facts of geography--the facts of science. The 'progressive education' advocated by John Dewey and his followers is a colossal failure and must be abandoned."


Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona: "We need a new emphasis on performance--on measurable progress by our children. And there's no doubt about it: That will cost money."

"I would go to every state house, and I'd propose a fair exchange. The federal government would take on the burden of funding for Medicaid. And the states would take their savings and apply them to the schools."

"What about child care? I believe we need a national child-care voucher funded cooperatively with every state. Every parent who works should have a decent choice of child care and every family that needs it should have a voucher to help make that care affordable."

U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware: "We should make it easier for special experts and talented college graduates to teach, and we should lift the burden of clerical and administrative duties from all teachers."

"Our children must go to school 30 or 40 more days a year, and several more hours a day. The basic truth is simple. America will not be able to compete with Japan, much less command the economy of tomorrow, if we give our children vastly less eduel10lcation than they give theirs."

Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts: "No major corporation in America would expect to remain competitive while devoting less than 1 percent of its budget to [research and development]. Without a sustained federal commitment to support educational research and development, American schools and colleges will not keep pace with changing populations and circumstances, and their capacity to innovate will be severely hampered."

U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri: "The Gephardt Administration will launch a national drive for educational excellence. States which improve their performance in student test scores, student thinking ability, and reduced dropout rates would receive educational bonus grants to help finance further improvement and innovations. Federal grants would also be made to public schools which implement proficiency standards in such essential subjects as English, math, science, and foreign languages."

U.S. Senator Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee: "Education has traditionally been the province of the states. The federal government's role has been to step in to provide assistance in areas of pressing need, such as education for the handicapped or student aid for young people who cannot otherwise afford a college education. The government entered these fields because of a mutual understanding with the states that local resources were insufficient to provide the desired programs. I do not believe that merit pay can appropriately be put in such a class, and the federal government4should remain neutral in this area."

Jesse L. Jackson, Baptist minister and president of the National Rainbow Coalition Inc.: "My challenge to young America is to come alive and work for the soul and future of America. Put hope in your brains, not dope in your veins. Your generation must face the threat of drugs, liquor, of babies making babies, violence, despair, homelessness, the threat of suicide. How many of you know someone who's dropped out of school because of pregnancy or they used drugs? How many of you know someone who brought a knife or gun to school? Or considered suicide? You have much for which to live, and you must come alive."

U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Illinois: "We can continue to help nonpublic schools serving deprived areas through programs like Chapter 1, and school lunch aid. But public schools must be the primary focus of the federal government. Tuition-tax credits for all nonpublic schools would drain money from our public-education system."

"We shape our destiny through education. At the least, that means we need: increases in basic starting salaries for all primary- and secondary-education teachers; adult literacy programs, expanded job training and re-training programs for the unemployed and under-employed; talented educator fellowships and summer institutes for educators who want to broaden their skills; scholarship programs for top high-school graduates who want to teach; more funds for libraries; preschool-education programs in disadvantaged areas; a federal Department of Education that makes education a national priority."

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