According to Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, American students are not being educated sufficiently in order to compete on an international playing field. According to Duncan, America’s public schools are struggling. Among 34 developed nations, American students rank 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math. Meanwhile, a quarter of America’s eighth graders cannot read at grade level. Each year, about 1.3 million students fail to graduate high school.
Teacher pay is also part of the education equation. On average, teachers make $45,000 dollars a year. Duncan has said they deserve more money. In fact, President’s Obama laid out a series of campaign promises in 2008 that included increasing teacher pay along with other initiatives for teachers, such as rewarding mentors and teachers in underserved areas; establishing teacher residency programs; and accrediting all schools of education.
Duncan maintains that our school systems need several reforms to be able to begin working on these problems. Among these reforms are:
Race to the Top Program (over 4 billion dollars to be applied to this program)
Reform of “No Child Left Behind”
Providing more technology in the schools
Evaluation of teachers
- DEMS are in support of a broadscale improvement in the effectiveness of public education, and support raising revenues to fund these improvements—such as the Race to the Top.
- DEMS support the maintenance of grants at the college level (Pell grants) in order to make higher education more widely available.Recently, President Obama authorized ten states to ignore key provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, which gave these states more autonomy in deciding how to determine accountability for student performance. DEMs saw this as a necessary first step in overhauling the law, because its revision is overdue. GOPs saw the action as Obama overreaching and doing an “end-run” around the Constitution.
- GOPs want to reform No Child Left Behind significantly by cutting much of its funding. They went along with the law because George Bush proposed it, but are now against it.
- GOPs support school choice and home schooling and the establishment of more charter schools.
- GOPs, in general, advocate severe funding cuts to the education budget. The new 2013 budget, just released, calls for an increase of almost $70 billion in new spending for education. The GOPs have already come out strongly against this.
- Some GOPs want to eliminate the Race to the Top Program.
- Some radical GOPs (like Ron Paul and possibly Santorum) have called for almost entire elimination of the Department of Education.
The major difference between the parties is that the Democrats believe that providing quality public education is an important function of the federal government and are willing to provide the revenues to accomplish this. The Republicans, on the other hand, believe in less federal government intervention in education issues, more state control, and more privatization of educational facilities.
Specific sources for information above:
Public Schools struggling: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arne-duncan/gIQAqFMc9O_topic.html
Statistics on achievement: http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/Education-Secretary-Arne-Duncan-Talks-Reform-130648513.html
List of reforms: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/
Democratic views: http://www.issues2000.org/Celeb/Democratic_Party_Education.htm
Republican views: http://www.issues2000.org/celeb/Republican_Party_Education.htm