Wesley Clark on Education

NATO General; Democratic Candidate for President


Public pre-school across America

In education, we should be offering public preschool across America, encouraging renewed study of mathematics, sciences, and engineering, and the creating the community programs needed to ensure that every American child graduates from high school. We must remember that the most important resources are not financial. They are the commitment of community leaders to create public schools emphasizing learning and character and the commitment of parents to work with their children, to assure they are fully engaged in the classroom and at home preparing for their own productive future. We need to reward teachers for their skills and commitments, while remembering that the best form of teacher accountability is not found standardized testing but in the dialogue between teachers and parents.
Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p.254 , Sep 4, 2007

Childhood speech defect caused special education advocacy

[As a child, I had a] speech defect. I couldn’t say, “Stop, Spot” or “Run, Randy, run,” and I called my neighborhood friend ‘Wibby Ann’ instead of ‘Libby Ann.’ I guess people thought my speech defect would go away by itself, but it didn’t. In the second grade I was taken once or twice a week downtown to the old MacArthur house on Ninth Street, which had been converted for Special Education. There, a nice teacher had us read as she listened closely. Then she taught us how to form our lips, and we got prizes if we pronounced words correctly. And sure enough, after a few months, my speech defect was corrected.

Looking back on that later, I realized that I was a kid with special needs, who was able to get the appropriate special education that made things right for me. Because I benefited from it personally, I have always been a strong supporter of this particular special assistance many of our youngsters receive from our public school system.

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 21 , Sep 4, 2007

Oppose vouchers and all measures that weaken public schools

I believe that the best way to educate our children is by strengthening the public school system, not taking resources away from them. Q: Do you support allowing parents in areas that are poor or with bad schools to use tax money to help send their children to private schools?

A: I oppose all measures that would weaken our public school system, including school vouchers.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “School Vouchers” , Jan 25, 2004

Supports charter schools and national testing standards

Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test , Jan 8, 2004

No vouchers for private schools

Not all students learn in the same way, and only by offering a wide range of educational options can we ensure that all students develop their full human potential. I do not support school vouchers for private schools. I do believe, however, that there are many ways to expand educational options within the public school system so that each child can find his or her own path to success.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Dec 26, 2003

Fund Elementary & Secondary Education Act and more

To truly leave no child behind, we’ve got to put our money where our mouth is. This includes full funding of past commitments like the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but it also goes further. Real education reform would ensure that educational options are available from pre-school through retirement, to respond to the needs of a lifetime.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

Fully fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

I would work to fully fund the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act and to honor the federal commitment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

Would support initiatives to make teaching prestigious

I support initiatives that are designed to let the teaching profession continue to earn the prestige that it deserves. I recognize that teachers must be equipped to teach the classes that they are teaching. In the older grades, we must strive to let teachers teach in their area of expertise. Finally, we have to treat teachers with more respect, by giving them the opportunities for additional training and professional advancement.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

School buildings must be safe places to learn

In 1999, approximately 11 million students were enrolled in schools with a building in less than adequate physical condition. Twenty-six percent of public school buildings had less than adequate ventilation. These conditions are unacceptable. I recognize the need to invest immediately in school construction and renovation so that teachers and students have safe, modern facilities with sufficient space to work and learn.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

Develop flexible systems to measure schools’ success

Systems of accountability must remain fair and flexible and recognize the accomplishments teachers that are making progress educating the most challenging students. We must make sure accountability systems are designed to help schools improve. Not all students learn in the same way, and only by offering a wide range of educational options can we ensure that all students develop their full human potential.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

Will ensure universal access to pre-school

Each dollar devoted to early childhood programs represents an investment yielding remarkable returns. I will work toward ensuring that all children have access to high-quality pre-school.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Nov 20, 2003

Education includes job transitioning for adults

[My framework of 30-year challenges includes] educating young people from preschool until they are at their most productive, helping adults transition form job to job and profession to profession during their adult lives. We can never ensure that every one has the same education, nor would we want to do so. But all Americans are better off when we ensure that each American will have fundamental educational skills and access to further educational development throughout their lives.
Source: 2004 Presidential site, AmericansForClark.com, “100 Year” , Sep 18, 2003

Increase teacher training & teacher pay

I’m looking at American education today, and I think we’ve got to treat our teachers with more respect. I think they’ve got to have more pay. But I think also, they have to have opportunities for professional enhancement and professional advancement. There’s a program in San Diego where a man is doing that and he really got teacher coaches out there working to improve the skills of teachers and the classroom performance. I think that’s the next step in American education.
Source: Speech to the New Democratic Network , Jun 17, 2003

Decries lack of funding for No Child Left Behind

[Clark] decried the lack of funding for the No Child Left Behind Act, saying ‘we should stop beating teachers over the head and start supporting them.’
Source: Matt Stearns, The Kansas City Star, , Apr 28, 2003

Supports funding for all-day kindergarten

[Clark’s European Command] provides logistical support for 118 schools and 50,000 students. Funding new programs such as all-day kindergarten and improved student-to-teacher ratios are extremely important. Your support for this funding is crucial. Our children deserve a world-class school system with curriculum and programs to match the best. Athletics, music, art and associated after school activities are as critical as the core academic subjects of math, science, history and English.
Source: Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee , Mar 17, 1999

More high school vocational programs

Many schools do not offer vocational programs. They have been forced to choose between college preparatory or vocational offerings, because their budget cannot support both. We must take aggressive action to expand vocational, technical and school-to-work programs.
Source: Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee , Mar 17, 1999

Establish 18:1 student-teacher ratio for grade school

We must work toward establishing an 18:1 student-teacher ratio for grades 4-12. We also need to push for program-based staffing. More counselors, technical support and special-needs teachers to match curriculum requirements not school size.
Source: Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee , Mar 17, 1999

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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016