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Dick Gephardt on Education

Democratic Representative (MO-3); Former Democratic Candidate for President


Republicans don't want to fund special education

Q: Can you give us a time and date, specific time, when you'll end special-education unfunded mandates?

A: We need a whole new approach to education. Bush has led us down the wrong path. Why haven't we been able to do it? Because we've had to deal with Republicans who don't want to fund unfunded mandates. We've got to have more preschool and more Head Start, more afterschool programs. We've got to have smaller classroom size. We've got to help the local districts build and expand school buildings.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

Vouchers take needed funds away from public schools

Q: What is your position on voucher programs?

A: My education program is designed to really help local schools do better. I am for more preschool programs, after school programs, smaller classroom size programs and I have a new idea called teacher core which will be like ROTC for teachers. My belief is that vouchers take needed funds away from public schools and therefore I have opposed them.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 3, 2003

Join Teacher Corps and we'll pay your college loans

I want to have a teacher corps so that we can say to young people in this country, `If you'll be a teacher and teach where we need you for five years, we'll pay your college loans.'
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Make first $10,000 of college tax deductible

We want to work together to recruit high- quality teachers and invest more in our schools while demanding more from them. We want to say to every student who wants to go to college and every worker who wants to update their skills the first $10,000 of your education should be tax deductible.
Source: Democratic response to the State of the Union speech Jan 29, 2002

Mobilize against national security crisis in our schools

We have a national security crisis in our schools which requires the same kind of mobilization that we apply to any military threat abroad. Too many of our children are taught in outdated and overcrowded classrooms, trailers, and even converted bathrooms or closets. Schools are literally crumbling around them. Students will only acquire the social and intellectual skills they need to become productive citizens if we provide modern, state-of-the-art classrooms for them to attend.
Source: Congressional Democrats’ web site, “Families First” Jan 1, 2001

Education agenda to improve public schools for 21st century

Source: Press Release, “Education Agenda” Oct 4, 2000

Address school violence via character ed & counselors

[Gephardt’s education agenda commits to] Character Counts - high standards of behavior for all our children. Foster a strong emphasis on character education and increased parental involvement in their children’s schools. Incentives for communities to support real standards of discipline and behavior in their schools.

Safe and Drug-Free Schools - safe schools for all our children. Increased commitment to creating a safe environment for learning, including the safe and drug-free schools program. Additional after-school and summer programs. More school counselors to prevent school violence. Alternative education for children suspended or expelled.

First Step - early childhood education available to all children Major new commitment to ensure that all children start school ready to read and ready to learn. Fully fund Head Start and Early Head Start.

Source: Press Release, “Education Agenda” Oct 4, 2000

More teachers, more classrooms, more federal funding

The government needs to do more to help schools. We’ve agreed to fund 100,000 new teachers in grades one through three. The Clinton administration is trying to use federal dollars to help districts pay the costs on school construction bonds. We must fully fund Head Start and make it available to younger children. I believe more teachers, more classrooms, and reaching out to prepare students to learn are an appropriate way for the federal government to help schools cope.
Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.157-58 Jul 2, 1999

More federal help for college; outraged at rising costs

We need to promote saving for college starting the day a child is born. There are things the government can do to help. One way is to promote savings vehicles for parents that allow for tax-free building of investments. The other side of the problem is the inflation of college costs. If colleges and universities don’t begin reining in costs soon, they will face public outrage and the threat of government action.
Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.167-69 Jul 2, 1999

Longer school day and longer school year

After-school programs represent another huge need and another area where the government could aid local schools with matching funds. In most communities, where the schools shut down at 3, where do the children go? The answer is back to an empty house or apartment-or to the streets. It’s no longer sensible to let children out of school with no place to go. The school is the safest alternative.

Another idea is expanding the school year to 11 or 12 months. We need to update the calendar to fit today’s reality. A longer school year may be necessary to meet the educational demands of the 21st century. Year-round schooling would also provide another way for schools to help fill the child-care gap by providing a learning environment for kids during summer months.

Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.164-65 Jul 2, 1999

Opposes vouchers on equity & civic grounds

On one side are Republicans, who believe that the schools are so poorly run that they want to give up on public education. They want to privatize schools, giving every family a voucher they can use to shop around for the school of their choice. A “free market in education” is their answer to every problem.

The problem with the Republican idea is that in every free market huge class discrepancies are inevitable. When there are no public schools, those with money will be able to buy a better education for their kids; the rest will get by with whatever third-rate product they can afford.

America’s public schools have taught civility, tolerance and mutual understanding along with math, history, and science. They’ve been a primary ingredient in our long-term success as a nation, and we should be very leery of proposals that could weaken them.A better approach is to reform public schools, rewarding the programs that work and junking the ones that don’t.

Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.159-60 Jul 2, 1999

Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

Voted YES on requiring states to test students.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

Voted NO on allowing vouchers in DC schools.

Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer federally-funded vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Armey, R-TX; Bill HR 4380 ; vote number 1998-411 on Aug 6, 1998

Voted NO on vouchers for private & parochial schools.

Vote to pass a bill to allow states to use certain federal funds designated for elementary and secondary education to provide scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Riggs, R-CA; Bill HR 2746 ; vote number 1997-569 on Nov 4, 1997

Voted NO on giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.

Motion to add language to the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act" to give federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.
Bill HR 1804 ; vote number 1994-85 on Mar 23, 1994

Rated 67% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education.

Gephardt scores 67% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Education: Dick Gephardt on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts