The Democrats on Education: A Sampler

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Education and related "family issues" shared the podium with virtually every speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Following are highlights:

Michael S. Dukakis

"It's time to wake up to new challenges that face the American family, time to see that young families in this country are never again forced to choose between the jobs they need and the children they love, time to be sure that parents are never again told that no matter how long they work or how hard their child tries, a college education is a right they can't afford."

"We're going to take America's genius out of cold storage and challenge our youngsters, we're going to make our schools and universities and laboratories the finest in the world and we're going to make teaching a valued and honored profession again in this country."

"When a high-school principal named George McKenna and a dedicated staff of teachers and counselors create a real environment for learning at the George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles--a high school that is 90 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic and has 80 percent of its graduates admitted to college--we are all enriched and ennobled."

Lloyd M. Bentsen

"A college education is slipping beyond the reach of millions of hard-working Americans. If you have a child that's born today, plan on having $60,000 in the bank when that child reaches the age of 18 in the hopes of sending that child to a public university. And if the Republicans have their way, don't count on any college loans to help you out."

Jesse L. Jackson

"We find common ground at the schoolyard where teachers cannot get adequate pay, and students cannot get a scholarship and can't make a loan. ... We are a better nation than that. We must do better."

"The rich and the corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. Let those who had the party pay for the party. ... We can use some of the money to invest in prenatal care, Head Start, and day care, to invest in education, to invest in our children that they might grow, and strengthen this country from the inside out."

Ann Richards, Texas treasurer

"For eight straight years, George Bush hasn't displayed the slightest interest in anything we care about. And now that he's after a job he can't get appointed to, he's like Columbus discovering America. He's found child care. He's found education."

Former President Jimmy Carter

"In some ways, America is a big family. ... And a good family plans for its children's future--that means education. Eight years ago, no American student was deprived of a college education because of financial reasons. Now, for many young Americans, these opportunities have been wiped out. Starting in 1989, that is going to change."

Representative Tony Coelho of California

"When the Reagan Administration cut education funding seven years running, where was George Bush?"

Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas

"Compared to all the world's major economic powers, we do the worst job of developing our most precious resource--our people. ... We live in the only advanced country that's still in the Dark Ages when it comes to child care. Our school dropout rates are more than twice those of our major competitors. When our kids do get out of school, they have about two years less learning time than young people in Germany and Japan who are competing for those good jobs Mike Dukakis wants them to have."

"Just as he did in Massachusetts, President Dukakis will insist that we all become partners in the fight for America's future, that we share the responsibility of forging it so that we can share the glory of achieving it.

"He'll have business partners like Eugene Lang, a wealthy businessman who decided to 'keep hope alive' at his old elementary school in Harlem. He gave the poor children there a dream of their own by promising all who would stay in school a scholarship to college.

"He'll have teaching partners like Jaime Escalante, the hero of the movie 'Stand and Deliver,' whose entire class of poor students in East Los Angeles stunned the education world by passing the Advanced Placement calculus test, under the guidance of a teacher who believes that all children can learn, and that students will perform at the level of our expectation.

"He'll have public-service partners like Marian Wright Edelman, the president of the Children's Defense Fund, who has fought a courageous bipartisan battle in Congress for early investment in children, reminding us all that we can invest in them now or pay a much higher price for our neglect later.

"Michael Dukakis will have political partners like Jesse Jackson, who in 1977, long before it was popular, went with me into the Arkansas public schools to plead with the students to say 'no' to drugs, to 'open their brains and not their veins.'"

Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia

"We understand that the number of well-educated children, not the number of tanks and missiles, is the sure measure of our strength."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts

"We cannot be satisfied to see American students rank 15th among industrial nations in science and math. We must strengthen education, not attack it. We must abolish illiteracy, not abide it. We must invest in Star Schools here on earth, not Star Wars in the sky.

"We must banish drugs from our classrooms, from our playgrounds, from the streets of our cities, and from everywhere in the nation.

"We must make America once again the best educated society in the world. We must see to it that in the 1990's, young Americans won't just go to school--they will learn in school."

Representative William Richardson of New Mexico

"Once upon a time, there was a great nation that believed in educating its children.

Once upon a time, its schools were its pride, and the envy of the rest of the world.

But then a tragically short-sighted Administration betrayed that belief and destroyed the pride."

"The stakes I believe are nothing less than the future of our nation. We must make real the promise of American education for all our citizens, or the American dream will be real for none of us."

Vol. 07, Issue 39 - Extra Edition, Page 21

Published in Print: August 3, 1988, as The Democrats on Education: A Sampler
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