Democratic Platform on Education

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Below are excerpts from the education section of the 2004 Democratic Party platform, approved July 27 at the party’s convention in Boston.

We believe in an America where every child comes to school ready to learn. Where every student is held to high standards, and every school has the resources and responsibility to meet those standards. Where every classroom has a great teacher, and every student gets enough personal attention to foster a talent or overcome a difficulty. ...

For this White House, education is an easy promise—easy come, and easy go. When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, he said the right things—asking more from our schools and pledging to give them the resources to get the job done. And then he promptly broke his word, providing schools $27 billion less than he had promised. ...

Under John Kerry and John Edwards, we will offer high-quality early- learning opportunities, smaller classes, more after-school activities, and more individualized attention for our students, particularly students with special needs, gifts, and talents. The federal government will meet its financial obligations for elementary and secondary education and for special education. ...

We must raise pay for teachers, especially in the schools and subjects where great teachers are in the shortest supply. We must improve mentoring, professional development, and new technology training for teachers, instead of leaving them to sink or swim. At the same time, we must create rigorous new incentives and tests for new teachers. We need new rewards for teachers who go the extra mile and excel in helping children learn. And teachers deserve due- process protection from arbitrary dismissal, but we must have fast, fair procedures for improving or removing teachers who do not perform on the job. ...

We will use testing to advance real learning, not undermine it, by developing high-quality assessments that measure the complex skills students need to develop. We will make sure that federal law operates with high standards and common sense, not just bureaucratic rigidity. ...

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