Dodd Outlines K-12 Education Plan

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Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd planned to tell teachers on Thursday that he will overhaul public education, guarantee universal preschool for children from low- and middle-income families and double the number of certified teachers.

The Connecticut senator's education plan also would pay teachers an extra $25,000 for teaching in high-need schools for five years and lengthen some students' school day by a third, according to an outline provided to The Associated Press. Dodd planned to unveil the ideas Thursday morning at the National Education Association of New Hampshire meeting in Bartlett.

"One thing is clear to me: We need to create the most educated generation in the history of our country to face the challenges before us. If our children fall behind for a decade, America falls behind for a century," Dodd said in prepared remarks. "As president, if you commit to teaching in our most challenging schools, I'll commit to making it worth your while."

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Dodd repeatedly cites his family's connection to classrooms during his stump speech. His sister, three aunts and two nieces are teachers. His 5-year-old daughter attends public school. His courtship of the powerful teachers' group follows Gov. Bill Richardson, who appealed to them on Wednesday, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spoke to them this spring.

Dodd also planned to use the speech to repeat his criticism of No Child Left Behind and President Bush. But unlike some rivals, he talked "not about abandoning it, as some are suggesting, but to reform it."

He wants to measure student achievement over time and their improvement, not just bottom-line test scores required now.

"Under a Dodd Administration, test scores will not be the only measure of student achievement. ... Because learning is not about filling in the bubbles, it's about connecting the dots."

Dodd's plan also would change how teachers are certified.

"I will introduce some sense into the teacher certification requirements. Never again will a high school social studies teacher be required to hold degrees in history, geography and economics to be considered highly qualified," Dodd said, referencing the "highly qualified" requirements for teachers in Bush's plan. "Indeed, as president, ensuring we have experienced, quality teachers in every school will be more than empty rhetoric."

The plan also would require students to stay in school until age 18, invest $25 billion in new school construction and create national standards for testing.

On Wednesday, Dodd outlined a plan to make higher education more accessible with promises of free community college education for every American if states agree to foot half the cost. His plan to make community college free relies on a 50-50 deal with states, matching state tuition subsidies dollar for dollar up to half the cost of in-state tuition. States would qualify for federal matching money by keeping their appropriations for public community colleges level from the year before.

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