Highlights from the Two Major Party Platforms on Education
n That teachers who agree to teach in a school that needs their help would get financial assistance for college tuition or student loans, or a hiring bonus for those willing to switch careers. The Democrats also advocate alternative certification so that those who choose to switch into teaching don’t have to start their education all over again.
n Making sure that schools have the resources to meet the challenges of an increasingly diverse student population with programs for English language learners, including bilingual education, to close the achievement gap.
n Creation of new Opportunity Academies around the nation between high school and college where disadvantaged students can get the intensive academic preparation in math, reading, writing and study skills that will improve their likelihood for success in college and beyond.
n A new National Tuition Savings program to tie together state tuition savings programs in more than 30 states so that parents can save for college tax-free and inflation-free. Another proposal is to cut taxes for tuition and fees for post-high school education and training that allows families to choose either a $10,000 a year tax deduction or a $2,800 tax credit.
n A major new commitment to expanding worker training and skill development, including the creation of national skills standards. Companies and workers are urged to build more partnerships for skill development. Also proposed is a new tax credit for employers who train their workers in the skills needed in the new economy and training allowances that will extend unemployment insurance for those who need time to finish their training courses.
n New tax-free 401(j) accounts — similar to the 401(k)s that so many Americans use for retirement funds — that would let employers help their employees save for the lifelong learning for the employee, their spouse or their children’s college education.
Democrats also seek a permanent tax exemption to encourage employers to provide tuition assistance benefits to their workers.
n A national effort to provide basic skills in the newest technology. Gore has proposed a major initiative to set and achieve a national goal of computer literacy for every child by the time they finish the eighth grade. He also proposes to dramatically expand teacher training in Internet use.
n Priority for programs that increase access to higher education for qualified students. The centerpiece of this effort has been education savings accounts. Along with that innovation, congressional Republicans passed legislation allowing tax-free distributions from state pre-paid tuition plans, enhancing the tax deduction for student loans and making it more practicable for employers to provide educational assistance to train workers. President Clinton vetoed the legislation.
n Under Republican fiscal discipline, interest rates on federally guaranteed student loans are lower than ever. Pell grants are providing greater opportunities than ever, and will become a dynamic force in math, science and technology if a Republican Congress enacts Gov. Bush’s proposal to:
— Target increased benefits to students taking challenging courses in those fields.
— Form partnerships with colleges and universities to improve science and math education.
— Attract science, math, and engineering grads to low-income schools and areas with shortages of those teachers.
n Calling on campus administrators to search for ways to hold down rising tuition rates; and, in fairness to them, a presidentially directed study on the effect of government regulation and paperwork demands.
n An end to mandatory student fees that compel students to support political agendas. Republicans also support a reasonable approach to Title IX that seeks to expand athletic opportunities for women without adversely affecting men’s teams.
— Compiled by Arwen Adams
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