A growing chorus of business and education-reform advocates are hoping the next president will create a ‘Sputnik moment’ for education.
Among Democrats, teachers unions and civil rights groups are facing off over issues such as the law’s testing regimen. Obama has acknowledged both sides: “Don’t tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend most of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test,” he said in Dayton. Yet his plan is not to throw out tests, but rather to help states develop broader assessments to measure skills such as problem-solving and scientific investigation.
Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A sample of Obama's policy proposals:
- Double funding for quality charter schools.
- Invest in and improve teaching
- Require professional accreditation of teacher preparation programs.
- Expand mentoring for beginner teachers and give them a stipend during training in exchange for service in a high-needs district.
- Support districts that work with teachers to create compensation systems that recognize accomplishment in the classroom and leadership in hard-to-staff locations.
- $200 million in grants for longer school days or school years to assist students in need.
- Double funding for after-school 21st Century Learning Centers.
- Help create appropriate tests for students learning English and hold schools accountable for making sure they reach graduation.
- Expand tax credits so low-income families can receive up to 50 percent credit for child-care expenses.
- Grants to promote “zero to five” efforts focused on young children and parents, and to help states move toward voluntary universal preschool.
- Increase Head Start funding, quadruple the size of Early Head Start, and improve the quality of both.
- Create an American Opportunity Tax Credit – a $4,000 tax credit per year for low- and moderate-income students to attend college for up to four years, in exchange for community service (those not earning enough to pay taxes would also qualify).
- Simplify the application for financial aid by allowing people to check a box on their tax return to determine aid eligibility.
- Community College Partnership Program to reward schools where more students graduate or transfer to four-year colleges.
A sample of McCain’s policy proposals
- Expand online learning.
- $500 million of current education funds would go toward building virtual schools.
- $250 million would support states to expand online offerings.
- $250 million would create “digital passport scholarships” to help low-income students do online courses or tutoring.
- Encourage alternative teacher certification and give states incentives to recruit teachers from the top 25 percent of their college class.
- Bonuses to teachers who locate in challenging settings and raise student achievement.
- In schools failing to meet federal standards, allow students to access tutoring more quickly. Tutoring providers certified by the federal government would be able to market directly to parents and be paid directly, rather than through the child’s school.
- Create Centers of Excellence in Head Start. One Head Start Center in each state would be chosen as a model and receive a grant to expand its reach and share best practices.
- Simplify higher education tax benefits and federal financial aid so that more families understand their eligibility.