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Posted at 08:24 PM ET, 09/04/2012

What Democratic platform says on education

Here are portions of the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform that discuss education and school reform.

The platform was approved Tuesday by convention delegates meeting in Charlotte, N.C., to formally nominate President Obama to seek re-election. You can read the education portion of the Republican Party’s 2012 platform here.

From the Democrat Party’s platform:


Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

An Economy that Out-Educates the World and Offers Greater Access to Higher Education and Technical Training. Democrats believe that getting an education is the surest path to the middle class, giving all students the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and contribute to our economy and democracy. Public education is one of our critical democratic institutions. We are committed to ensuring that every child in America has access to a world-class public education so we can out-educate the world and make sure America has the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. This requires excellence at every level of our education system, from early learning through post-secondary education. It means we must close the achievement gap in America’s schools and ensure that in every neighborhood in the country, children can benefit from high-quality educational opportunities.
This is why we have helped states and territories develop comprehensive plans to raise standards and improve instruction in their early learning programs and invested in expanding and reforming Head Start.
President Obama and the Democrats are committed to working with states and communities so they have the flexibility and resources they need to improve elementary and secondary education in a way that works best for students. To that end, the President challenged and encouraged states to raise their standards so students graduate ready for college or career and can succeed in a dynamic global economy. Forty-six states responded, leading groundbreaking reforms that will deliver better education to millions of American students. Too many students, particularly students of color and disadvantaged students, drop out of our schools, and Democrats know we must address the dropout crisis with the urgency it deserves. The Democratic Party understands the importance of turning around struggling public schools. We will continue to strengthen all our schools and work to expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.
Because there is no substitute for a great teacher at the head of a classroom, the President helped school districts save more than 400,000 educator jobs.
We Democrats honor our nation’s teachers, who do a heroic job for their students every day. If we want high-quality education for all our kids, we must listen to the people who are on the front lines. The President has laid out a plan to prevent more teacher layoffs while attracting and rewarding great teachers. This includes raising standards for the programs that prepare our teachers, recognizing and rewarding good teaching, and retaining good teachers. We also believe in carefully crafted evaluation systems that give struggling teachers a chance to succeed and protect due process if another teacher has to be put in the classroom. We also recognize there is no substitute for a parent’s involvement in their child’s education.
To help keep college within reach for every student, Democrats took on banks to reform our student loan program, saving more than $60 billion by removing the banks acting as middlemen so we can better and more directly invest in students. To make college affordable for students of all backgrounds and confront the loan burden our students shoulder, we doubled our investment in Pell Grant scholarships and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, and we’re creating avenues for students to manage their federal student loans so that their payments can be only 10 percent of what they make each month. President Obama has pledged to encourage colleges to keep their costs down by reducing federal aid for those that do not, investing in colleges that keep tuition affordable and provide good value, doubling the number of work-study jobs available to students, and continuing to ensure that students have access to federal loans with reasonable interest rates. We invested more than $2.5 billion in savings from reforming our student loan system to strengthen our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska, Hawaiian Native Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions. These schools play an important role in creating a diverse workforce, educating new teachers, and producing the next generation of STEM workers.
We Democrats also recognize the economic opportunities created by our nation’s community colleges. That is why the President has invested in community colleges and called for additional partnerships between businesses and community colleges to train two million workers with the skills they need for good jobs waiting to be filled, and to support business-labor apprenticeship programs that provide skills and opportunity to thousands of Americans. The President also proposed to double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade. And to make this country a destination for global talent and ingenuity, we won’t deport deserving young people who are Americans in every way but on paper, and we will work to make it possible for foreign students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to stay and help create jobs here at home.
Mitt Romney has a radically different vision. He says we need fewer teachers, cops, and firefighters – good middle class jobs – even after losing hundreds of thousands of such jobs during the recession and at a time when state, local, and territorial governments are still shedding these jobs. He supports dramatic cuts to Head Start and the Pell Grant program. Tuition at public colleges has soared over the last decade and students are graduating with more and more debt; but Mitt Romney thinks students should “shop around” for the “best education they can afford.” And he supports the radical House Republican budget that would cut financial aid for more than one million students while giving tax cuts to the rich. We Democrats have focused on making sure that taxpayer dollars support high-quality education programs, but Mitt Romney is a staunch supporter of expensive, for-profit schools – schools that often leave students buried in debt and without the skills for quality jobs and that prey on our servicemembers and veterans.

There are a number of other brief references to education in the platform, including this one:

Poverty. Too many Americans live without hope for a better future or access to good, family-supporting jobs. Fifteen percent of our fellow citizens live in poverty, and one in five families struggles with food insecurity. Many of these families work but are unable to pay the bills. The economic crisis has hit lowincome American families particularly hard, but merely restoring our country to where it was before the economic crisis is not enough. We must make ending poverty a national priority.
When the President took office, we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month. President Obama and Democrats took immediate action to get the economy moving again. By expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and supporting unemployment insurance benefits and food stamps, the Recovery Act kept seven million people out of poverty and reduced poverty for 32 million more in 2010. The Obama administration invested in Promise Neighborhoods in communities across the country – a comprehensive approach to fighting poverty from early learning to college and career. The administration provided grants to financial institutions in urban and rural communities for the purpose of increasing lending for low-income Americans.
But there is still more work to do. Democrats believe that we must raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation. We will continue to fight for equal pay for equal work, a strong labor movement, and access to a world-class education for every child. We will help lift people with disabilities out of poverty. We understand that poverty disproportionately affects communities of color and we are committed to working with those most affected by poverty. We will continue the improvements in refundable tax credits for low-income families to encourage work and education while lifting families out of poverty. To enhance access and equity in employment, education, and business opportunities, we encourage initiatives to remove barriers to equal opportunity that still exist in America. We will expand the Promise Neighborhoods Program to prepare more students for college.
We face an opposition that has proven its priorities are elsewhere. Mitt Romney would raise taxes on low- and middle-income Americans to fund his tax breaks weighted toward the wealthiest. We reject the Republican budget plan that would force us to destroy the safety net in order to help the wealthiest avoid doing their fair share.

and this one:

Arts and Culture. Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education. We are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation’s rich cultural heritage. We will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we protect and promote the unique and original artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage.

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