Education

Education is a crucial issue, and one that ties into the broader economy, because children who are poorly educated are not given the opportunity to succeed as adults. There are significant achievement gaps in our urban and rural school systems that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities. There have been many proposed solutions on either side of the aisle, some with great consensus and others met with strong opposition.

A current hot topic in education is national standards set for the entire country. Some consider national standards as a detriment to learning and setting America up for mediocrity and believe that the states should be responsible for setting their own competitive standards. Proponents of national standards believe it sets a level playing field and makes it easier for students who move state to state to be on the same page educationally.

The consensus in Washington, DC over the past ten years has been the support of charter schools. Many Republicans and Democrats believe school choice through charters provide opportunity to economically depressed areas of the country. While there is a general consensus, some Republicans who support charter schools believe that education should be dealt with and funded at the state level. There is also dissent on charters among Democrats. Some Democrats believe that charter schools are the privatization of education and that only the government should be in charge of education.

Other policy solutions discussed at both the federal and state levels are vouchers for low-income students, educational savings accounts, and parents trigger laws. Vouchers (currently implemented in Washington DC Public Schools) give low-income students an allotted amount of money to attend a private school of their choice for chance to get out of their current failing assigned school. Education savings accounts have been implemented in many states like Indiana, Arizona, and most recently, Nevada. These accounts are given to each student and typically hold the amount of money spent per pupil. Parents are given autonomy on how they use the money, whether for homeschooling (funding limited), private, charter, or even their assigned district school. Lastly, is the parent trigger law. Inspired by education reform advocate and former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the law allows parents whose children are in a failing school to sign petitions to flip that school into a charter school. By having parents trigger the change, there is greater autonomy given and greater parent input in how the school is run.

National Standards

Point

Proponents of national standards believe it sets a level playing field and makes it easier for students who move state to state to be on the same page educationally. They also believe that national standards will lead to better expectations and a collective responsibility to better prepare children for college.

Counter

Some consider national standards as a detriment to learning and setting America up for mediocrity and believe that the states should be responsible for setting their own competitive standards. Opponents of Common Core believe that the standards set a lower bar than most states in regards to achievement and hold federal money over the states to accept the standards.

Charter Schools

Point

Proponents of charter schools believe that every child deserves a choice and a chance for a quality education no matter the zip code. Many Republicans and Democrats believe school choice through charters provide opportunity to economically depressed areas of the country. Charters grant autonomy and allow exemption from from unions. Proponents point to charter success in urban areas like New York and Los Angeles, closing the achievement gap.

Counter

Opponents to charter schools believe that it they lead to privatization of education and that only the government should be in charge of education. Others believe that charters weaken the voice of unions and are not held accountable. Some have even suggested that charter schools re-segregate our school system.

Vouchers

Point

Proponents of vouchers believe that every child deserves a choice and a chance for a quality education no matter the zip code. Vouchers, like the program in Washington, DC, allow low-income students the chance to get a voucher to attend a private school.

Counter

Opponents of vouchers believe that they will lead to the full privatization of the education system, saying that private schools should not receive public dollars. They also believe that some private schools that are parochial and receive public dollars are a violation of church and state.

What Students Think

Education is constantly talked about; reforms, standards, school choice, and more. Where do you stand?

Candidate Positions

Donald Trump

Republican Candidate for President

  • Immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars.
  • Give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws, encouraging them to participate.
  • Establish the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty.
  • If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.
  • Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.
  • Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.

Gary Johnson

Libertarian Candidate for President

Governor Gary Johnson was one of the first governors in the nation to propose and advocate a universally available program of school choice. He did so while governing with an overwhelmingly Democrat legislature and while facing a powerful teachers’ union. He was well aware that his proposal would not be enacted and would generate fierce opposition. However, he believed it was important to raise the issue and force the teachers’ unions to defend a clearly failing status quo.

More broadly, Gov. Johnson believes there is no role for the Federal Government in education. He would eliminate the federal Department of Education, and return control to the state and local levels. He opposes Common Core and any other attempts to impose national standards and requirements on local schools, believing the key to restoring education excellence in the U.S. lies in the innovation, freedom and flexibility that federal interference inherently discourages.

As Governor, he saw first-hand that the costs of federal education programs and mandates far outweigh any benefits, both educationally and financially.

Hillary Clinton

Democratic Candidate for President

Hillary believes that every child, no matter his or her background, should be guaranteed a high-quality education. That’s why she has been working to improve and support our public schools for decades. As first lady of Arkansas, she chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Commission, fighting to raise academic standards, increase teacher salaries, and reduce class sizes. As first lady of the United States, she chaired the first-ever convening on Hispanic children and youth, which focused on improving access to educational opportunities. And, as a U.S. senator, she served on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, as a key member shaping the No Child Left Behind Act, with the hopes that it would bring needed resources and real accountability to improve educational opportunities for our most disadvantaged students. Hillary knows that we have real work to do to ensure every child can fulfill his or her God-given potential. That is why she will fight for policies that:
Make high-quality education a priority for every child in America. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act shows what’s possible when Congress puts politics aside and works together to improve our education system. While the legislation is not perfect, Hillary believes it will help give states and teachers flexibility to serve the needs of their students, while ensuring schools are held accountable for raising the achievement of all children—especially low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. The bill will allow communities to strike a balance on testing as a measure of student success, require districts and states to take action to turn around struggling schools, and expand resources for teacher development, early childhood education, and high-quality public charter schools. Hillary will work to make sure this law is implemented effectively and that we make the necessary investments—like universal pre-K and other early learning programs—to give every child a strong start and access to a world-class education.
Support educators. Hillary knows good teachers are key to improving student learning. But we don’t do enough to ensure that teachers receive the training, mentorship, and support they need to succeed and thrive in the classroom. Hillary will listen to teachers, invest in their training and professional development, and recruit the best and brightest into the profession.
Improve student outcomes. Hillary believes we can do more to meet the needs of students by providing opportunities geared toward their individual skills and educational goals. She will work to ensure students with disabilities, in particular, have the resources and support they need throughout their school years.

Jill Stein

Green Party Candidate for President

Education as a Right:

Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude. Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization.

  • Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university.
  • Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.
  • Protect our public school systems from privatization.
  • Use restorative justice to address conflicts before they occur, and involve students in the process.
  • Evaluate teacher performance through assessment by fellow professionals. Do not rely on high stakes tests that reflect economic status of the community, and punish teachers working in low income communities of color.
  • Replace Common Core with curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities.
  • Stop denying students diplomas based on high stakes tests.
  • Stop using merit pay to punish teachers who work with the most challenging student populations.
  • Restore arts, music and recreation to school curriculums.
  • Ensure racially inclusive, sensitive and relevant curriculums.
  • Use Department of Education powers to offer grants and funding to encourage metropolitan desegregation plans based on socioeconomically balanced schools.
  • Recognize poverty as the key obstacle to learning. Ensure that kids come to school ready to learn: healthy, nourished, secure and free from violence.
  • Increase federal funding of public schools to equalize public school funding.