Education Opinion

Where Does Hillary Clinton Stand on Education Reform?

By Matthew Lynch — August 29, 2015 5 min read
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In April, Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the presidency for the upcoming 2016 election. As we all know, education is always a hot-topic in Presidential election years. Thanks to unhappiness about Common Core Standards and the rising cost of college education, get ready for it to be one of the premier issues in 2016.

Where does Hillary Clinton stand on education? Here we’ll discuss 8 things you should know about her position on important issues our nation needs to address.

1. Hillary Clinton wants more respect for technical training. Though a graduate of an Ivy League establishment herself, Clinton has spoken publicly about placing a higher value on non-degree earners who obtain an education for technical positions. Relevant training, not the degree listed on a diploma, should be what matters when hiring. Will this mean more federal funding toward community colleges and technical training programs? I’m going to say “yes” as Clinton seems determined to elevate access to training and degree programs for all Americans.

2. Hillary Clinton does not like online degree programs. Though she has a pretty strong digital team (remember: she announced her Presidential candidacy on social media), Clinton has mentioned before that she is not a big fan of online learning for college purposes. “Technology is a tool, not a teacher,” she was quoted as saying in 2014. Though I agree with her to an extent, I think that the higher education online degree train is already steaming down the track. Rather than discount its effectiveness, it may be more beneficial to develop accountability standards for these types of degree programs that ensures they are successful for their students, both academically and economically.

3. Hillary Clinton wants for-profit colleges to have higher accountability. In the first week of her official campaign, Clinton spoke about the “troubled” state of for-profit colleges in the U.S. and how they need more oversight. She mentioned the especially shady practice of taking at-risk student dollars and then not doing enough to ensure that these students graduate and find jobs. Critics were quick to point out that she and husband Bill Clinton have close ties with Laureate, the fourth-largest for-profit higher education establishment in the U.S., but I think that Clinton means what she says. She isn’t calling for an end to for-profit colleges; she is calling for higher accountability and that’s something that can benefit students and administrations alike.

4. Hillary Clinton is pro-Common Core. At her first official campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton praised Common Core and called parents who misunderstand the value of the controversial academics “unfortunate.” She also inserted the idea that education is a “non-family” entity in the U.S., and an important one. For what it’s worth, I agree with Clinton. I’ve seen too many parents argue against Common Core because it is different from what they did as kids -- but isn’t that the point? The U.S. lags behind other developed countries, particularly when it comes to STEM topics, so we should be taking a different approach when it comes to these topics. While her “non-family” comment may appear harsh to some, I think it’s good that Clinton is taking a confident approach early on and not softening her platform.

5. Hillary Clinton likes charter schools. As far back as when her husband was in the position she now seeks, Hillary Clinton has been a supporter of quality charter schools in the U.S. During Bill Clinton’s time in office, charter schools grew from 2,000 to 5,800 nationwide and he was quoted as saying he wished there was “10,000" that were available to the nation’s youth. Hillary Clinton has already mentioned that she also supports pubic charter schools -- an issue that she coincidentally aligns her beliefs with Jeb Bush. Expect more rhetoric from her about how quality charter schools lead to more opportunities to at-risk American students.

6. Hillary Clinton does not like voucher programs. While she does support school choice as it exists as a form of public education, Clinton has always been opposed to allowing public funds to be used toward private and religious schools. As a New York Senator, Hillary Clinton voted against voucher programs in the state in 2001.

7. Hillary Clinton is pro-teachers. As a Senator, Clinton voted for hiring more teachers instead of tutors on a few occasions and has always spoken out about providing adequate funding and resources for teachers. She has called teacher standards the heart of K-12 reform but believes that teachers need the government to support their efforts. Last year, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said he believes Clinton will be a “fantastic president.” It is clear that Clinton expects a lot from K-12 teachers, especially in publicly funded schools, but that she wanted them to succeed and is invested in making that happen.

8. Hillary Clinton is in favor of universal pre-K. Like President Obama, she believes that families should have no-cost access to early learning initiatives and that putting this necessary building block in place is not something that should be reserved for those who can afford it. Clinton has a little more oomph when it comes to this push, though, as she also sees universal pre-K as an affordable way for more women to be in the workplace.

Taking away the financial barrier of preschool means less money going out to daycare and less of an internal debate for women who want to work outside the home, but can’t afford it because of daycare costs. Unfortunately, it is this “babysitting” mindset that turns many people, conservatives mainly, off to the idea of universal preschool. In the minds of some, if women want to work then finding affordable childcare is an individual family problem - not something that the government needs to step in and handle.

For that reason, I do hope that Clinton stays on message about the proven beneficial effects of early childhood education on the children (not on the parents who are then able to work more) and also how the road to long-term equality starts with equal access to education.

What issues in education do you hope Hillary Clinton champions during her campaign?

The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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