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According to their Platform, Where do the Democrats Stand on Public Education

Having published the Republican Platform, in fairness, here is the Democrat Party’s Platform entitled, Renewing America’s Promise.

A World Class Education for Every Child

In the 21st century, where the most valuable skill is knowledge, countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. In the platform hearings, Americans made it clear that it is morally and economically unacceptable that our high-schoolers continue to score lower on math and science tests than most other students in the world and continue to drop-out at higher rates than their peers in other industrialized nations. We cannot accept the persistent achievement gap between minority and white students or the harmful disparities that exist between different schools within a state or even a district. Americans know we can and should do better.

The Democratic Party firmly believes that graduation from a quality public school and the opportunity to succeed in college must be the birthright of every child-not the privilege of the few. We must prepare all our students with the 21st century skills they need to succeed by progressing to a new era of mutual responsibility in education. We must set high standards for our children, but we must also hold ourselves accountable-our schools, our teachers, our parents, business leaders, our community and our elected leaders. And we must come together, form partnerships, and commit to providing the resources and reforms necessary to help every child reach their full potential.

Early Childhood
We will make quality, affordable early childhood care and education available to every American child from the day he or she is born. Our Children’s First Agenda, including increases in Head Start and Early Head Start, and investments in high-quality Pre-K, will improve quality and provide learning and support to families with children ages zero to five. Our Presidential Early Learning Council will coordinate these efforts.

K-12
We must ensure that every student has a high-quality teacher and an effective principal. That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals by making this pledge-if you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education. We’ll provide better preparation, mentoring and career ladders. Where there are teachers who are still struggling and under performing we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they’re still under performing after that, we should find a quick and fair way””consistent with due process”” to put another teacher in that classroom.  To reward our teachers, we will follow the lead of school districts and educators that have pioneered innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. We will make an unprecedented national investment to provide teachers with better pay and better support to improve their skills, and their students’ learning. We’ll reward effective teachers who teach in under-served areas, take on added responsibilities like mentoring new teachers, or consistently excel in the classroom. We will fix the failures and broken promises of No Child Left Behind-while holding to the goal of providing every child access to a world-class education, raising standards, and ensuring accountability for closing the achievement gap. We will end the practice of labeling a school and its students as failures and then throwing our hands up and walking away from them without having provided the resources and supports these students need. But this alone is not an education policy. It’s just a starting point. We will work with our nation’s governors and educators to create and use assessments that will improve student learning and success in school districts all across America by including the kinds of critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that our children will need. We will address the dropout crisis by investing in intervention strategies in middle schools and high schools and we will invest in after-school programs, summer school, alternative education programs, and youth jobs. We will promote innovation within our public schools-because research shows that resources alone will not create the schools that we need to help our children succeed. We need to adapt curricula and the school calendar to the needs of the 21st century; reform the schools of education that produce most of our teachers; promote public charter schools that are accountable; and streamline the certification process for those with valuable skills who want to “Strong public schools are the foundation of democratic community life. With the intention of helping all children to succeed, we must facilitate improved education, including vocational and special education programs” -shift careers and teach.  We will also meet our commitment to special education and to students who are English Language Learners. We support full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  We also support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by supporting and funding English Language Learner classes. We support teaching  students second languages, as well as contributing through education to the revitalization of  American Indian languages. We know that there is no program and no policy that can substitute for parents who are involved in their children’s education from day one-who make sure their children are in school on time, help them with their homework, and attend those parent-teacher conferences; who are willing to turn off the TV once in a while, put away the video games, and read to their children.  Responsibility for our children’s education has to start at home. We have to set high standards for them, and spend time with them, and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.

Higher Education
We believe that our universities, community colleges, and other institutions of higher learning must foster among their graduates the skills needed to enhance economic competitiveness. We will work with institutions of higher learning to produce highly skilled graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines who will become innovative workers prepared for the 21st century economy.  At community colleges and training programs across the country, we will invest in short-term accelerated training and technical certifications for the unemployed and under-employed to speed their transition to careers in high-demand occupations and emerging industries. We will reward successful community colleges with grants so they can continue their good work. We
support education delivery that makes it possible for non-traditional students to receive support and encouragement to obtain a college education, including Internet, distance education, and night and weekend programs.  We must also invest in training and education to prepare incumbent job-holders with skills to meet the rigors of the new economic environment and provide them access to the broad knowledge and concrete tools offered by apprenticeships, internships, and postsecondary
education. We need to fully fund joint labor-management apprenticeship programs and reinvigorate our industrial crafts programs to train the next generation of skilled American craft workers.  We recognize the special value and importance of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions in meeting the needs of our increasingly diverse society and will work to ensure their viability and growth.  We will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans. In exchange for the credit, students will be expected to perform community service.  We will continue to support programs, especially the Pell Grant program, that open the doors of college opportunity to low-income Americans. We will enable families to apply for financial aid simply by checking a box on their tax form.  Our institutions of higher education are also the economic engines of today and tomorrow. We will partner with them to translate new ideas into innovative products, processes and services.

Science, Technology and Innovation
America has long led the world in innovation. But this Administration’s hostility to science has taken a toll. At a time when technology helps shape our future, we devote a smaller and smaller share of our national resources to research and development.  It is time again to lead. We took a critical step with the America Competes Act and we will start by implementing that Act “”then we will do more. We will make science, technology, engineering, and math education a national priority. We will double federal funding for basic research, invest in a strong and inspirational vision for space exploration, and make the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent. We will invest in the next generation of transformative energy technologies and health IT and we will renew the defense R&D system.
We will lift the current Administration’s ban on using federal funding for embryonic stem cells- cells that would have otherwise have been discarded and lost forever-for research that could save lives. We will ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and creativity. We will end the Bush Administration’s war on science, restore scientific integrity, and return to evidence-based decision-making.  In sum, we will strengthen our system, treat science and technology as crucial investments, and use these forces to ensure a future of economic leadership, health well-being and national security.

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