In a school visit here Thursday, Vice President Gore is scheduled to acknowledge his position in the 2000 presidential campaign as the biggest spender on education. And aides said tonight he's proud of it.
Gore plans a speech detailing his plan to increase federal education spending by $115 billion over the next 10 years, according to one top adviser.
In addition to touting his ideas for teacher accountability and new tuition savings programs, Gore also plans to use the midday event to tweak his lone Democratic challenger, Bill Bradley, and the Republican front-runner, George W. Bush.
"It's one of the big differences between us and Bradley," said one aide familiar with the proposal. "We think it's a national priority, and he [Bradley] wants to do a series of little projects. He has no comprehensive education plan."
Although Gore's staff said the school visit had been planned for a few weeks, the timing suits the campaign's political goals since Bush will be at another Nashville school tomorrow, reading to children.
Gore, aides said, will likely take a fresh swipe at the Texas governor's $1 trillion tax package, arguing that it actually slashes school spending because his tax cuts exceed the projected federal budget surplus.
In contrast to Bradley, whose major initiative would pour money into improving health care, and to Bush, who would devote resources to a tax cut, a Gore aide said tonight: "We're spending our money on health care, Medicare and education."
If enacted, Gore's education agenda, details of which were first reported in early editions of the New York Times, would be funded by setting aside about 10 cents of every dollar of the budget surplus not already earmarked for Social Security or reducing the national debt.
Gore first outlined his education plan in May during a commencement speech at Graceland College, a small, private school in southern Iowa. At the time, he proposed relicensing teachers every five years and requiring parents, teachers and students to adhere to tough disciplinary codes.
"We should treat teachers like professionals, we should pay them like professionals, and we should hold them to high professional standards," Gore said in May.
He called for the creation of a new Teachers Corps that would offer $10,000 in college tuition to those who teach for four years, reiterated his opposition to school vouchers and endorsed President Clinton's call for extending the Family Leave Act to parents attending meetings at their child's school. Gore's plan would provide for "second-chance schools," online "e-tutors," wiring every school for the Internet and voluntary preschool for all.
In May, former education secretary Lamar Alexander, who had not yet withdrawn from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, was critical, saying that Gore's "proposals all add up to a national school board, and we need local school boards."