Election Notebook

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Bush, Gore Respond to Special Education Policy Queries

Both of the major-party presidential candidates support increasing federal funding for special education and want to see strategies put in place to help reduce the number of students referred for such services, according to their answers to a questionnaire.

For More Information

The questionnaire, "Presidential Candidates' Positions on Special Education," is available from The Council for Exceptional Children.

The Council for Exceptional Children, based in Reston, Va., queries the major parties' presidential candidates on special education issues every four years.

This year, the special education advocacy group posed seven questions on pressing topics in its field—such as student discipline, teaching conditions, and medical services—to Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the Republican nominee, and Vice President Al Gore, his Democratic opponent.

Mr. Bush responded to two questions. In essence, he said that he would work to increase funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the main federal special education law, while also supporting more preventive measures such as reading interventions for students with learning disabilities.

Mr. Gore answered all the questions, pledging to provide more special education funding, and also promised to ensure that federal laws would not allow schools to inappropriately expel students with disabilities or deny them an education. He also promised to help ease paperwork burdens and look for ways to provide better training for teachers.

In addition, Mr. Gore said he wants to provide college aid and signing bonuses to encourage new teachers to choose high-shortage fields such as special education.

The questionnaire results can be found online at www.cec.sped.org.

The early returns are in: Gov. Bush is a winner with the students who voted in two pre-Election Day mock races.

Of the more than 661,000 students in grades 1 through 12 who took part in an electoral contest sponsored by the children's educational publisher Scholastic Inc., 54 percent chose Mr. Bush, while 41 percent picked Vice President Gore to be the next president.

The Scholastic poll, which has been conducted in every presidential race for more than 60 years, has accurately predicted the winners of each election in that period, except for one. In 1960, the students chose Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy.

"Over time, students seem to reflect the attitudes of their parents," David Goddy, the vice president and editor in chief of the magazine group for the New York City-based publisher, said in explaining the predictive value of the student votes.

Student opinion also seemed to focus on the issues the candidates themselves have been pushing in their campaigns.

Mr. Goddy said that according to e-mails the publishing company had received, the students who voted for Mr. Bush cited his honesty, his father's record as president, and his stance on issues such as abortion, gun control, and taxes as reasons for choosing him.

The students who voted for Mr. Gore generally said they chose him because of his education, experience, and his position on issues such as the environment, education, and health care.

Students either mailed in their ballots or voted on Scholastic's Internet site. Voting was conducted from Sept. 1 to Oct. 18.

Separately, young participants in the online OneVote sponsored by Channel One also gave Mr. Bush their nod.

With about 877,500 students participating in 48 states, 58.9 percent of the vote went to the governor while 35.6 percent went to Mr. Gore, Channel One reported. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader picked up 3.8 percent of the vote, and Reform Party contender Patrick J. Buchanan took 1.7 percent of the vote. In OneVote, students voted online on Oct. 23 and 24.

Channel One provides free cable television equipment to schools that agree to show its advertising-supported news programming.

Revising its earlier tally, CQ Weekly now reports that Democrats need a net gain of seven seats on Election Day to secure a majority in the House. Previously, Congressional Quarterly's respected weekly magazine had reported that Democrats needed to pick up only six seats.

Bob Benenson, the weekly magazine's politics editor, said Rep. Matthew G. Martinez's decision to shift his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican brought about the numerical shift.

But the number remains in doubt because Mr. Martinez, R- Calif., made his decision after losing the Democratic primary this year, and Hilda Solis, who won the primary, is running unopposed in the general election next week. ("Next President Must Lead on Education, IBM Chief Urges," Oct. 18, 2000.)

For that reason, Democrats still maintain that they need to win only six additional seats to gain the majority. Some Democratic candidates are also beginning to feature the six-seat figure in their advertisements.

—Joetta L. Sack, Michelle Galley, & Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily

Vol. 20, Issue 9, Page 27

Published in Print: November 1, 2000, as Election Notebook
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