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John Edwards' Views II

(...continued from the last time...)

Renewing The Promise Of Education:

These are the principles on which I base my vision for education in America, and I believe nothing less is good enough.

1. In America, there should be a good teacher in every classroom in every school.

2. In America, every school should pay enough attention to every child to know if he or she needs extra help or has a special talent.

3. In America, every student should expect to graduate high school and get enough education to compete and win in today's economy.

4. In America, every qualified student who works hard and wants to go to college should be able to go to college, and they should have a fair shot at getting into the school they want to attend.


Great talking points and ones that are easy for people to absorb and promote. I do fear that Edwards' implementation of the last two could involve some form of educational affirmative action, something I would disagree with.
We should say to the smartest young people in America: if you make a five-year commitment to teach in a place or a subject where top-flight teachers are in short supply, then we will pay for your college education.

Sounds expensive, but it would probably work in attracting new teachers.
...we should give a $5,000 mortgage tax credit to teachers in poor areas who are willing to buy homes in the communities where they teach so they can be more available to parents and students.

Is this actually a problem? I don't remember reading anything which claimed poor-area teachers live in communities other than the one they teach in. In compressed urban areas where mere city blocks translate into miles, I can see the rationale. But in Texas, most of the poor communities are rural areas with small knots of population concentrations. Such a credit certainly wouldn't hurt, however. Anything to reduce the tax burden. ;)
I propose a new, flexible teacher quality grant for states with one simple premise at its core: we said you had to have a qualified teacher in every classroom by 2006; now we're going to put our money where our mouth is. Today, the federal government spends $3 billion a year on teacher quality. If we're serious about good teachers, I believe we should at least double that. The money we spend on good teachers will be the best money we've ever spent.

From one standpoint, I agree that having the best teachers possible in schools is greatly important. However, he believes more funding is the answer, something that is highly dubious.

In asking for this money, he proposes some conditions on the states:

First, you've got to pay teachers better, and pay more to teachers who agree to teach in places and subjects where we need them most.

Second, you have to make sure the resources target the teacher shortage where it is worst, in poor rural and urban districts that can't attract the talent they deserve. The truth is, there are many school districts that can afford to pay teachers good salaries already. We need to focus our efforts where good teachers are paid the least and needed the most.

Third, you should hold teachers accountable for results by streamlining the tenure process and passing the pioneering tenure reform law that North Carolina and nine other states have passed that allows teachers to be removed for poor performance. Good teachers deserve to be honored, valued, and rewarded for it. But let's face it: there are some teachers who just don't measure up, and it hurts our children and good teachers everywhere if the system just looks the other way. Teachers who don't measure up don't belong in the classroom. The best education for our children must come first.


Sure sounds like good policy. I just wish it didn't have to be done with taxpayer money.
The president continues to tout private school vouchers. I oppose them because they divert resources and energy from reform and divert students into the only schools that don't have to meet high standards. Proponents advocate two things competition and parental choice but misleadingly suggest these are only possible with private school vouchers.

Competition is good for schools, and parental choice is good for kids. But we can give kids competition and choice within our accountable, public system.


Edwards is technically correct about the diversion of resources, but that is precisely the point. Parents should be able to decide where their kids go to school and if we are going to keep spending public money on education, we should at least grant the very fundamental right to school choice to the parents. He's simply wrong about competition being possible for public schools and...
Today, many public school choice programs are having trouble because there aren't enough schools or parents involved. We shouldn't give up on these programs; we should make them work by making a billion-dollar investment in public school choice. We'll say to districts that need it most: If you'll provide universal public school choice for your students, we'll help you pay for it.

...he contradicts himself in the next breath! If there is competition in public schools, why this? He doesn't speak the truth: parent's have no choice in public schools unless they uproot and move. Certainly, that's their perogative.

Public schools are a near-monopoly and -- it's at least been my experience -- you don't have a school choice when you go to public schools unless you move to that school's tax district.

I am offering a simple proposal that I call College for Everyone. We are going to provide states with the resources to offer a new deal to students: If you are willing to take responsibility for your education, the first year of tuition at every community college and public university in your state is free.

[...]

Each year, taxpayers spend billions subsidizing banks to make student loans. We also guarantee the loans against default so banks cannot lose. If we scrapped the whole system and made the loans through competitive contracts, like one-third of loans are now, we could save about $2 billion each year.


There never was a problem that a larger and more expensive government couldn't handle, eh? I do think it's interesting and uplifting he proposes a more market-oriented system for collegiate student loans.
More than 200 colleges today give students a leg up in the admissions process in exchange for a very early commitment to attend. Applying early is worth the equivalent of 100 extra points on the SAT, yet as a practical matter it is available only to the most motivated students who come from the most educated and fortunate families. Students can't apply early if they don't know about the program or can't afford to lock themselves into a particular school because they need to compare financial aid packages. Early decision worked great for my daughter, because my family could afford to use it. But for thousands of families who can't, early decision is fundamentally unfair.

My emphasis. He think this is fundamentally unfair, that some students have their shit together quicker? This is asinine. It's also not unnoticed how he shines a negative light on the "most fortunate" families, as if wealth is merely a stroke of luck and not work.

He also takes aim at "legacy admissions" which give preference to students who have allumni in their families. He calls for universities to end this, otherwise "other action may well be necessary." No heavy hand of statism here!

People who mow the lawn or change the sheets for a living deserve as much respect and as much opportunity as the most powerful people in the country. All our children deserve the same chance to make the most of their gifts, to rise as high and as far as their talents and work will take them.

I get so tired of this kind of rhetoric. It's all for the Little Guy, who can't stand up for himself because He isn't "fortunate," because He can't break through the vile market realities forced upon him by the profit-seeking or the callous and uncaring.

Some of his proposals do make an improvement on our system. Too many of them are summed up as spending increases and additonal conditions and regulations.

UPDATE(11/11/2003 9:53pm)
More here. I consider him a hypocrite.

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