Education

Bush vs. Gore: The Candidates on Education, Issue by Issue

September 06, 2000 4 min read
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Accountability | School Choice/Vouchers | Teacher Quality |
Early-Childhood Education | Reading | After-School Aid

ACCOUNTABILITY

Bush
Emphasizes increased flexibility in exchange for more accountability. Would require states to give mathematics and reading tests to all students in grades 3-8 who attend schools receiving federal Title I aid and to publish annual school-by-school report cards with student performance broken down by race and income. States that failed to improve student achievement over five years would be required to place the administrative portion of their federal aid into a fund for charter schools. Would offer bonuses to states and schools that made the most progress in improving student achievement.
Gore
Would require that states and districts take aggressive action to turn around poor-performing schools. Schools that failed to improve after two years would be shut down and reopened as charter schools or “reconstituted” schools, and their students would receive access to after-school and summer programs. States that failed to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap would be required to divert the administrative portion of their federal aid into a fund to help poor-performing schools. Would offer financial rewards for significant progress on achievement and require states and districts to publish school report cards annually.

SCHOOL CHOICE/VOUCHERS

Bush
Supports vouchers for students in failing Title I schools that do not improve their students’ performance after three years. Such schools would be required to give a portion of their federal aid to students to enable them to attend another school, whether public or private. Would seek to double the number of charter schools by 2003 by creating a Charter School Homestead Fund, which would provide $3 billion in loan guarantees over two years for such costs as the acquisition, leasing, and renovation of facilities.
Opposes publicly funded school vouchers. Would help triple the number of charter schools by 2005 by increasing funding for the existing federal charter schools program and creating an “incubator” fund to help provide temporary space for charters until they obtained permanent facilities. Would create competitive-grant program to help bring public school choice to 100 of the lowest-performing districts nationwide.

TEACHER QUALITY

Bush
Would combine existing federal funds for professional development, class-size reduction, and the Goals 2000 school reform program into a flexible new fund for teacher training and recruitment, with $400 million a year in additional money. In return, states would be required to establish teacher-accountability systems. Would establish a teacher tax deduction to help defray teachers’ out-of-pocket classroom expenses.
Would spend $8 billion over 10 years to help recruit new teachers to high-need schools, with plans to provide college aid, loan forgiveness, and signing bonuses. Would spend another $8 billion to provide salary increases of up to $5,000 each to teachers in high-need districts that adopted aggressive plans to improve teacher quality, and up to $10,000 to teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Would require states to ensure that all new teachers pass rigorous assessments. Would require that schools receiving federal Title I aid guarantee that all of their teachers were fully certified by 2004.

EARLY-CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Bush
Supports a greater educational focus for Head Start, in part by putting it under the Department of Education’s supervision. Head Start providers would have to emphasize reading and school readiness to receive federal grants. Also would require grant recipients to adopt core curricula, and would award contracts on a competitive basis to spur improvements.
Proposes spending $50 billion over 10 years for a new grant program that would provide incentive funds to states that guaranteed access to preschool for all 4-year-olds. Would increase Head Start funding. Would spend $8 billion over 10 years for grants to improve the quality of child care and ensure that such programs emphasized learning. Would offer expanded tax breaks estimated to cost $30 billion over 10 years to make child care more affordable.

READING

Bush
Would establish a new five-year, $5 billion initiative to help ensure that all students learned to read by the 3rd grade, with an emphasis on disadvantaged children. Participating states would be required to include phonics-based instruction in their programs, train K-2 teachers in reading preparation, and test students in grades 3-8 in reading.
Would continue support for the $260 million Reading Excellence Act, which issues competitive grants to states for reading initiatives aimed at ensuring student literacy by the 3rd grade. His campaign also links reading improvement to other initiatives, such as universal preschool.

AFTER-SCHOOL AID

Bush
Would revise the 21st Century Learning Centers program to allow faith-based and community organizations to compete for its funding. Currently, only schools may apply for the funds. Also would spend $400 million a year to provide low-income families with certificates to help defray the costs of after-school care.
Would dramatically increase federal spending on the 21st Century Learning Centers program, doubling President Clinton’s $1 billion request this year to $2 billion for the after-school initiative. Would create a new tax credit to help middle-and low-income families defray after-school child-care costs. Would provide grants to help recruit and train staff members to assure high-quality after-school programs.

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