Where candidates for governor stand on education
BOSTON (AP) — Education is always a critical issue in campaigns for governor in a state that prides itself on a knowledge-based economy. This year is no different.
Each of the five Democratic and Republican candidates for governor have outlined plans ahead of the Sept. 9 primaries that they say will help improve and expand access to education and keep Massachusetts among the top rung of states in the national rankings.
Grossman said he would launch a universal prekindergarten program available to every child in the state, invest more resources in public higher education, and freeze tuition and fees at state public colleges and universities for the next four years.
"The zip code in which you live or in which you were born must never determine the quality of the education you receive," he said.
The state treasurer and Democrat said he would also bring Wi-Fi infrastructure into every public school and expand so-called STEM programs that currently focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to include the arts, which he said is critical in a 21st century innovation economy.
Coakley said she, too, wants to ensure universal access to high quality early education, beginning with universal access for children in the state's older, financially strapped municipalities known as Gateway Cities.
Coakley, the state attorney general and Democrat, also said she wants to expand learning time to allow for more one-on-one instruction and enrichment programs like art and music, expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, especially computer science, and better align training at vocational schools and community colleges with the state's workforce needs.
"We have a responsibility to help every child in Massachusetts reach his or her full potential," Coakley said.
Berwick said if elected he will invest in universal prekindergarten and support low-income and single-parent families to make sure every child in Massachusetts is ready for school.
The former federal health care administrator and Democrat pledged to help foster what he called a proud, capable, respected, and fully supported teacher workforce. He also vowed to move away from high-stakes testing, and would work to make sure Massachusetts' underfunded schools get the resources they need while also investing in community colleges and vocational schools
"Major inequities exist among our public schools and I am committed to closing those gaps," Berwick said.
Baker, a Republican and former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, said he would create an Excellence School District to enable and encourage dramatic improvements in the state's lowest performing schools.
Baker said he would also work with state lawmaker to increase the number of charter schools and remove restrictions on the number of students who can attend them in the lowest performing districts.
"We can have great schools across the commonwealth that ensure opportunity for every single child, no matter where they live," Baker said.
Baker said a four-year, full-time college program is increasingly unaffordable for middle-class and working families and he would work to make higher education more affordable, and better connect students to jobs.
Fisher, a businessman and tea party member, said he would once again require wood shop, metal shop, home economics and vocational skill programs to middle schools.
Fisher also said that families and local school districts are best suited to make decisions regarding the education of students in their communities.
The Republican candidate said he's opposed to any national education standards, guidelines or proposals on state or local communities, and as governor would work to exempt the state from the national Common Core program.
"Teachers know what is best for their students," he said. "Let's let teachers teach."
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