Obama vs. McCain

In our last blog post, we outline specific policies and investments in Barack Obama’s comprehensive education plan-including from a significant education policy announcement and speech that Obama is making today.  

Previous posts describing Obama’s underlying principles and his personal visits to schools and classrooms have provided a window into his approach to education and his rationale for his education policy. Now let’s dive into Obama’s education policies and compare them straightforwardly with McCain’s. Below is a summary. And if you want to see the more detailed policy analysis and comparison, take a look at this.

Obama has proposed a bold and comprehensive education plan that invests in our people and our long-term economic competitiveness.

1. Early Childhood Education

OBAMA PROPOSES ENSURING UNIVERSALLY AFFORDABLE, QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION by making quality early childhood education universally available and affordable through a $10 billion new investment in our children from birth to age 5 including early learning grants to states while including expanding Head Start and quadrupling Early Head Start. Every dollar invested in early childhood education pays off in 10$ we save in benefits over time. 

MCCAIN has proposed no early childhood education policies or investments on his presidential campaign.

2. Investing in the Success of Our Nation’s K-12 Public Schools

OBAMA PROPOSES MAKING DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS AND REFORMS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS by rewarding strong performance, addressing low performance and investing in and taking to scale what is demonstrably working to help our students, educators and schools succeed. 

MCCAIN proposes no new investments for public schools. 

Ensuring an Effective Teacher in Every Classroom and an Outstanding Pricipal in Every School

OBAMA’S new investment in the teaching profession provides grants to help school systems that: recruit, train, retain, and reward teachers and school leaders; create career ladders and increase pay for effective teachers and teachers in high-need schools; and identify ineffective and struggling teachers, providing them with individual help and support, and removing them from the classroom in a quick and fair way if they still underperform. 

Senator Obama’s teaching excellence plan also will attract and prepare tens of thousands of new teachers by creating Teacher Service Scholarships for those who serve in a high-need location or subject area for at least four years, by offering high quality alternative routes to certification, and by reforming schools of education including requiring them to track, report and use data on teacher and principal placement, retention, and student achievement to improve their programs.  

MCCAIN proposes reallocating existing Title 2 Teacher and Principal Recruitment and Training Fund for teacher performance bonuses, recruiting teachers, and school-level professional development.

Public School Choice and Charter Schools

OBAMA PROPOSES EXPANDING SUCCESSFUL CHARTER AND OTHER NEW SCHOOLS WHILE IMPROVING OR CLOSING DOWN THOSE THAT FAIL. Obama proposed today doubling funding for the federal charter school program as well as creating an Innovative Schools fund to create a “portfolio” of successful public schools through support for planning and limited capital costs. He proposed channeling more charter school funding to states with track records of achievement in charter schools, that expand successful charter schools to serve more students, and that ensure accountability and close down chronically underperforming charter schools. He also proposed channeling more charter funding to communities with students trapped in underperforming schools. 

MCCAIN hasn’t proposed policy or investments for public school choice and charter schools.  He has proposed a $7 million new investment for private school vouchers in Washington D.C.

Create “Invest in What Works” Fund

OBAMA has proposed a federal “Invest in What Works” initiative to put into action a recommendation of our country’s innovation leaders, mayors, and educators.  Obama will double investment in educational R and D by the end of his first term with a portion of this investment devoted to commissioning a blue-ribbon private sector panel of premier business leaders, educators, researchers, and others to make recommendations to the Secretary of Education on successful programs and innovations across the country that should be scaled.  The panel will also be charged with making those successful practices and lessons learned universally available. 

MCCAIN has no policy.

Accountability for Federal Government

OBAMA proposed today strengthening accountability for the federal government in education by making federal education programs more performance-based. He called for using performance metrics–including student achievement, college and high school graduation rates, and other outcome indicators–to evaluate federal education programs, expand successful programs, and reform or cut funding for underperforming programs. 

MCCAIN has no policy.

Other Investments in What Works  

OBAMA proposes, in addition to making large investments in early childhood education, college affordability, and teaching quality improvements for high-need students, substantial increases for public schools in extended learning time and quality after-school programs, effective use of technology, improved middle and high schools, and drop-out prevention programs.

MCCAIN has proposed an increase of just under one percent of the federal education budget.  Nearly all of that would go to states that expand online education and help low-income students “pay for online tutors or enroll in virtual schools.” The remaining $7 million would expand the school voucher program in Washington D.C. He has also proposed reallocating $500 million of existing federal funds to “build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings.”

Parental Responsibility and Involvement in Education  

OBAMA has repeatedly said that “there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child’s education from day one.” To support parental responsibility and involvement Obama has called for doubling the funding for high quality charter schools and encouraged working with parents to establish teacher/student/parent contracts.

MCCAIN has no specific policies. Other than his proposals for school vouchers in Washington D.C. and his proposal to shift to the federal government greater responsibility for “Supplemental Education Services”, McCain has not proposed specific policies to promote parental responsibility and involvement in education.

3. College Affordability

OBAMA has proposed creating a new and fully refundable tax credit worth $4,000 for tuition and fees every year, eliminating the current cumbersome financial aid process and replacing it with a box parents can check on their tax form.  Obama has also committed to rewarding colleges and universities that graduate more students as a way of showing that colleges must share in the accountability for our children’s education.

MCCAIN has proposed no new funding to make college more affordable and McCain no policies or investments to improve college graduation rates.

–Guestbloggers Jon Schnur and Mike Johnston, Education Advisors to Sen. Obama

5 Replies to “Obama vs. McCain”

  1. Would like to talk with someone from the Obama campaign on the record about the Senator’s policies on special education.

    Mark Sherman, reporter
    LRP Publications
    (703) 516-7002, ext. 18

  2. Interesting that in the presentation of Obama’s views, his spokespeople leave out another aspect of Obama’s campaign views, which is to make significant changes to what assessments are used and how they are used. His actual platform on NCLB is quite short (under a page), and it is difficult to determine just what he/his campaign mean in those brief comments. But testing and how accountability is to play out are very important national educational issues since the advent of NCLB. Also, to my knowledge, Obama’s advisors disagree on some of the issues, making it more difficult to know what Obama thinks when filtered through the comments of one or two of his advisors.

  3. The constructive tone taken by you guys is only one reason why I welcome this debate for Obama’s educational soul. NCLB-type of accountability is the biggest thing that divides us, and most Democrats and Independents, and many Republicans agree on so much more.

    Fundamentally we, who are preoccuppied by the Bolder Broader vs. the EEP approach, mostly disagree over whether accountability should be the fundamental driving force of reform or whether it is one aspect of reform. We disagree whether the best approach is a single, national accountability system or rifle-shot accountability measures. Why should we fear a debate on whether data-driven accountability is preferable to data-driven decision-making?

    The benefits of Obama’s overall plan dwarf the benefits of any accountability systems that could be devised in the next decade or so. If we are talking education, in my opinion, those of us who want to remove sanctions from the law have most of the evidence on our side, and we have a mighty good political case also. But what is the worse case if we lose? No accountability system that would be implemented under a President Obama would produce the negatative unintended effects of NCLB under a Bush administration that treated reality as “the old paradigm.” It was the way that true believers implemented NCLB I that caused so much damage.

    The only harm that could come from a real debate would be if it got so dirty that it contributed to a McCain administration.

  4. Millions of America’s young people are responsible, moral, and good students. They do not deserve a President McCain who was 894th in a class of 899. McCain, widely known as a womanizer, married Cindy one month after he broke up his first family. Cindy, the daughter of a very rich beer distributor, confessed to drug addiction and to stealing drugs.

    Our young people do not deserve a V.P. whose unmarried, pregnant teenage daughter is practically glorified by the right . Sarah Palin and John McCain have both been charged with ethics violations. They are also guilty of lying and smearing. The tabloids won’t need to find fresh material for years to come with McCain, Cindy, and Palin in the White House. Morally and academically, the Obamas are the opposite of McCain and Palin.

    So, I don’t understand why so many conservative preachers and church goers will vote for these two? Both candidates oppose gay marriage and McCain has supported abortion. Obama supports the Faith-Based Initiative.

    McCain is unstable, erratic. I have confidence in Obama’s stability, good sense and compassion.

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