Advocacy Spotlight: Education and the Election

Advocacy Spotlight: Education and the Election

As we draw closer and closer to the 2016 presidential election, the country is buzzing with speculation about the future and what it will look like based on who is elected. Amidst the chaos of campaign season, we here at PCTELA want to provide an unbiased exploration into the one political platform that touches all of our hearts: education. This article will analyze the party platforms finalized at this summer’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions and unpack each party’s stance on relevant educational issues.

This month’s advocacy spotlight is on the official educational platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties with regards to the 2016 presidential election.

Basic Philosophy of Education

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “We believe a good education is a basic right of all Americans, no matter what zip code they live in. We will end the school-to-prison pipeline and build a cradle-to-college pipeline instead, where every child can live up to his or her God-given potential” (2).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity” (33).

Education in regard to Science, Research, and Technology

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “We will invest in high-quality STEAM classes, community schools, computer science education, arts education, and expand link learning models and career pathways” (33).
    “High-speed internet connectivity is not a luxury; it is a necessity for 21st century economic success, social mobility, education, health care, and public safety. […] Democrats will finish the job of connecting every household in America to high-speed broadband, increase internet adoption, and help hook up anchor institutions so they can offer free WiFi to the public” (9).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “The digital revolution has transformed how we work, learn, sell, shop, socialize — in short, how we live. Technological change drives our positions with regard to STEM education, business and corporate involvement with educational certifications, workforce issues, privacy, cyber and national security, energy development, regulation, and other elements of our campaign for growth and jobs” (5).
    “We urge school districts to make use of teaching talent in the business community, STEM fields, and the military, especially among our returning veterans” (33).

Education and Incarceration

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box,” expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights” (16).
    “We will end the school-to prison pipeline by opposing discipline policies which disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBT. We will support the use of restorative justice practices that help students and staff resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully while helping to improve the teaching and learning environment” (33).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “We encourage states to offer opportunities for literacy and vocational education to prepare prisoners for release to the community. Breaking the cycle of crime begins with the children of those who are prisoners. Deprived of a parent through no fault of their own, youngsters from these families should be a special concern of our schools, social services, and religious institutions” (40).

Testing

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “We are also deeply committed to ensuring that we strike a better balance on testing so that it informs, but does not drive, instruction. To that end, we encourage states to develop a multiple measures approach to assessment, and we believe that standardized tests must be reliable and valid” (33).
    “We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing; the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools; and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers” (33).
    “We support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school” (33).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “It [rightful education reform] rejects excessive testing and “teaching to the test” and supports the need for strong assessments to serve as a tool so teachers can tailor teaching to meet student needs” (33).
    “We reject a onesize-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level” (33).

Academic Standards

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “Democrats believe all students should be taught to high academic standards. Schools should have adequate resources to provide programs and support to help meet the needs of every child. We will hold schools, districts, communities, and states accountable for raising achievement levels for all students—particularly low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities” (32).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “We likewise repeat our longstanding opposition to the imposition of national standards and assessments, encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core, and congratulate the states which have successfully repealed it” (33).

School Choice

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “We believe that a strong public education system is an anchor of our democracy, a propeller of the economy, and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams” (32).
    “We support democratically governed, great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators” (34).
    “We believe that high-quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools. Charter schools must reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools” (34).
    “Democrats oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources” (34).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools” (34).
    Empowering families to access the learning environments that will best help their children to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time” (34).
    Rightful education reform “recognizes the wisdom of local control of our schools and it wisely sees consumer rights in education — choice — as the most important driving force for renewing education” (33).

Educational Funding

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “The Democratic Party is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps […] It means supporting equitable and adequate state funding for public education, and expanding Title I funding for schools that serve a large number or high concentration of children in poverty” (33).
    “We oppose […] the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools” (33).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “Since 1965, the federal government, through more than 100 programs in the Department of Education, has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with little substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates. […] Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free. More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance. After years of trial and error, we know the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement” (33-34).
    “We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits” (34).
    “We propose that the bulk of federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for children with special needs should follow the child to whatever school the family thinks will work best for them” (34).

Support for Teachers

  • Democratic Standpoint
    “We know that good teachers are essential to improving student learning and helping all students to meet high academic standards. Democrats will launch a national campaign to recruit and retain high quality teachers. We will ensure that teachers receive the tools and ongoing professional development they need to succeed in the classroom and provide our children with a world-class education” (33).
    “We oppose […] the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers” (33).
  • Republican Standpoint
    “We applaud America’s great teachers, who should be protected against frivolous lawsuits and should be able to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom” (33).
    “We urge state education officials to promote the hiring  of qualified veterans as teachers in our public schools. Their proven abilities and life experiences will make them more successful instructors and role models for students than would any teaching certification” (45-46).
    “Rigid tenure systems should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom” (33).

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Written by: Christie Stelljes

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Advocacy Spotlight: Education and the Election

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