Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Weigh In on Education Issues
Candidates voice opposition to vouchers, No Child Left Behind Act
By Ben Hammer
The nine Democratic presidential candidates weighed in on education issues at a debate held last month at historically Black Morgan State University.
Co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and the FOX News Channel, the debate provided a forum for several of the candidates to weigh in on the Bush administration’s education policies.
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., voiced his opposition to vouchers and commented on the administration’s No Child Left Behind Act.
“This president is leaving millions of kids behind every single day,” Edwards said. “And he’s not addressing the fundamental problem in our public schools, which is that we still have two public school systems in America — one for the ‘haves’ and one for the ‘have-nots.’ “
Edwards outlined what he would do as president. “First, lead a national initiative to pay teachers better, so we get good teachers and keep the good teachers we already have. Second, give bonus pay to teachers who are willing to teach in schools in disadvantaged areas, and give scholarships to young people who will teach in schools in disadvantaged areas. And finally, we have thousands and thousands of young people who are deciding not to go to college because they can’t afford it. We ought to make college available to any young person who is willing to work for it,” Edwards said.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., picked up where Edwards left off, saying the United States has a “separate and unequal” school system.
“We deserve a president who recognizes that until you have equality of education in America, until the federal government is prepared to make up the difference in funding, we do not have a prayer of making real the full promise of our country… And we have to guarantee that vouchers are not made into an argument that somehow there’s a morality in taking care of kids, 50 of them, and abandoning 4,000 in the school behind them. I refuse to accept that.”
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., took President Bush to task, calling him the “most fiscally irresponsible president in the history” of the country.
“And what’s the result of that? The squeezing of investments in Head Start, in the Pell Grants that help students go to college, in investments in health care,” Lieberman said. “No community has suffered more from the fiscal irresponsibility of George W. Bush than the African American community.”
The CBC and FOX News will co-sponsor another Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 26 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
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