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Bill Richardson on Education

Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee


FactCheck: NM teacher salary only moved from 44th to 36th

On education, Richardson once again repeated his unsubstantiated claim that U.S. students rank 29th in the world in math and science, which we first debunked in September. And he made these inflated claims about his own record on education: “We were 49th in the country in teacher salaries. We’re 28th today.”

The salary claim is not true. Pay has improved, but not that much. New Mexico’s teacher pay ranking was 44th the year before he took office and now is 36th, according to the most recent report

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

FactCheck: NM test scores have not made “enormous progress”

Richardson made these inflated claims about his own record on education: “Well, we’ve made enormous progress in my state.... Educational achievement has increased.”

It’s true that educational achievement has increased since Richardson took office in 2003, but not by much. And in the case of reading scores for eighth-graders, the state has actually lost ground. In 2002, for example, 36% of New Mexico eighth-graders scored below basic levels in reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This year it was even worse; 38% failed to achieve basic reading competency. That’s hardly “enormous progress,” and New Mexico remains in the national test-score basement.

The state’s eighth-graders were in a statistical tie with five other states for next to last among the 52 states and jurisdictions covered. Their reading scores weren’t statistically different from those of Mississippi or Alabama. Only the District of Columbia scored significantly worse.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Make education a top priority and scrap No Child Left Behind

I would make education one of the top priorities if not the top priority as president and start early. Preschool for every child under 4. Full-day kindergarten is desperately needed. A timetable within 15 years Americans become number one in the world again in science and math. I would hire new science and math teachers, create science and math academies, and revise and strengthen the high school curriculums with local control. Here’s my position on no child left behind, I’d scrap it. It’s a burden on schools; it’s an unfunded mandate; it hurts all kinds of kids and achievement. I would recognize that the key to our educational system is a good teacher. We disregard our teachers and don’t pay them enough. I’d have a minimum wage starting salary of $40,000, and then have art in the schools to stimulate kids being stronger in science and math proficiency. If we’re going to be competitive, to keep families together, to be a family that values community, education is the key.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate , Dec 13, 2007

$60 billion plan to make American education #1 in world

I’ve outlined a $60 billion plan to make American education number one in the world again. One out of two African American and Hispanic youth don’t get through high school and that is a huge tragedy and there has been no improvement. This is what I would do. Preschool for every child under four. You get to kids early. Full day kindergarten. Investments in science and math academies because we are 29th in the world when it comes to science and math. I believe that having a strong art in the school program is going to make us more competitive in science and math. I’d get rid of No Child Left Behind--that is an impediment. And I would also have a minimum wage for our teachers at $40,000 and let me conclude with this: National service. This is what I mean. College loans unaffordable. Rip off artists, banks, student loan companies, here is my plan. Two years in exchange, two years of government loans, the government helps pay for tuition, one year of national service by the student.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum , Dec 1, 2007

Create science and math academies with 100,000 new teachers

The key to a good education is a strong teacher. One of the problems we have in this country is we disrespect teachers. We underpay them. I would have a minimum wage for all teachers starting out at $40,000 per year. We need to be bolder with No Child Left Behind. I would junk it. This is a disaster. It’s got to go. I would have preschool for every child. I would have full-day kindergarten. The US is 29th in science, to the European Union, to Japan. We need to have science and math academies. Hire 100,000 science and math teachers. Have art in the schools. We need also to have a college education policy that deals with these huge loans that are killing our college students. What I would do is in exchange for two years of tuition, government pays tuition, one year of national service to this country. Those are the kind of creative solutions we want in this country.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada , Nov 15, 2007

Commit to extending school day and/or the school year

I’d commit to extending the school day and/or the school year, and have 100,000 new science and math teachers. We have to pay our teachers what they deserve, a minimum wage of what I believe is $40,000 per year. I’d get rid of No Child Left Behind. I would have science & math academies, but in the high school curriculum it is critically important that we have more civics, more language, and art in the schools to provoke creativity in science and math proficiency
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Start earlier with preschool for every child under 4

Q: What ought to be the debate about education in America?

A: The debate should be the fact that our high-school curriculums are not competitive. We are 29th in the world when it comes to science and math scores in K through 12. The debate should be not just emphasizing science and math, but art in the schools, civics. Revise high-school curriculums. We gotta start earlier with preschool, early childhood, for every child under 4. Full-day kindergarten. We have got to pay our teachers better. I’d have a minimum wage for teachers. We’ve got to scrap this No Child Left Behind, which is a one-size-fits-all testing that is hurting disabled kids, gifted kids, English-learning kids, that humiliates schools that are not doing well. If a school isn’t doing well, what you do is you help that school. And finally, I would have a national goal that in 15 years, America will be No. 1 in science and math, because that’s competitiveness.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Pay off college loans in exchange for national service

A: Do you think that bilingual education would help with dropout rates among Hispanics and young immigrants?

A: Of course it would. I’m a strong supporter of bilingual education. This is what I would do as president.

  1. Preschool for every child. You have to get the kids before they’re 4.
  2. Full-day kindergarten.
  3. Science and math. We are behind. We’re 29th in the world in science & math in K through 12.
But a fundamental shift has to happen in the federal role in education. It’s called No Child Left Behind. I would scrap it because it hampers bilingual education. It hampers English-learning kids. What it also does is, it does little to help that dropout rate of 1 out of every 2 Latinos not getting through high school. What we also need to do is find universal education, a DREAM Act for college students. And I have a plan that deals with college loans: in exchange for partially paying off college loans, one year of national service for this country.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

Minimum wage for our teachers: $40,000 per year

Q: Are you for merit pay for teachers?

A: No, I’m not for it. But what we need to do is pay our teachers better. They are disrespected. I have proposed a minimum wage for our teachers, $40,000 per year. We are 29th in the world in math and science. We need to have 100,000 new math and science teachers. We have to be number one again.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

One-point plan on No Child Left Behind: Scrap it

I have a one-point plan on No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. It’s a mess; it’s a disaster. I would have preschool for every child. I would have full-day kindergarten. I’d revise our high school curriculums -- science, math, languages, civics, and an arts-in-the-schools programs to unlock our kids’ [development].
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Scrap No Child Left Behind; it doesn’t work

Q: You have had to implement No Child Left Behind in your state. Would you scrap it? Revise it?

A: I would scrap it. It doesn’t work. It is the law. It is not just an unfunded mandate, but the one-size-fits-all doesn’t work. It doesn’t emphasize teacher training. It doesn’t emphasize the disabled kids. English-learning kids don’t get help.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Help failing schools; don’t penalize by defunding them

The worst thing No Child Left Behind does is it takes districts and schools that are not doing well, takes their funds away, penalizes them. If a school is not doing well, we [should] help that school.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Minimum wage of $40,000 for teachers

The key to a good education in this country is a strong teacher. I would have a minimum wage for all our teachers, $40,000 per year. And I would emphasize science and math. And I would also bring, to make sure our kids that are not scoring well in science and math, 29th in the world, to unlock those minds in science and math, I would have a major federal program of art in the schools: music, dancing, sculpture, and the arts
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Supreme Court backstabbed equality of Brown v. Board of Ed

Q: In light of the recent anti-integration Supreme Court decision, please tell us what would you do to promote an equal opportunity and integration in American public schools.

A: The Supreme Court backstabbed the principles of equality in the Brown v. Board of Education. You know what I would do? I would take Supreme Court justices that voted the wrong way. I would take them to an inner city school to see for themselves how they have destroyed the equality in our schools.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

Nobody asks how we pay for war; why do we ask on education?

Sometimes when I talk about education, the first thing you hear is, how are you going to pay for it? Nobody asks how we’re going to pay for the war. But it’s important to state that improving our schools, improving education, access to education to all Americans, should be America’s foremost priority.

You know, I want to just state that for the record, I am for a minimum wage for teachers. The key to a good education is to pay our teachers and have accountability.

And we have to make sure that we deal with this achievement gap. One out of two minorities in this country, one out of two African-American, Latino kids don’t make it through high school. They drop out. That has to be combated with at-risk programs, with programs that deal with more parental involvement. We have to start early, universal preschool. We did this in New Mexico. Kids under 4 have full-day kindergarten. And finally, we have to find a way to give every American access to a college education.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Eliminate junk food in schools; statewide smoking ban

As a governor I eliminated junk food in schools. I just signed a statewide smoking ban and I would do that as president. I would have a promotion of healthy lifestyles. Give tax credits to companies that encourage their workers to be healthier, to exercise. I believe also that as Americans we have to ensure prevention. That is so important. Making sure that we start early, making sure that we promote healthy lifestyles. That would be my plan as president.
Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas , Mar 24, 2007

Equip every 7th grader with a laptop computer

I announced last week a pilot program that will bring basic change to how mid school and high school students learn. More than 700 students and 80 teachers will receive laptop computers in the first phase of this initiative. Eventually, I want every 7th grader to have one. Every teacher in every discipline - math, languages, social studies, history - will be trained in how to make use of the computer and the internet directly in their subject areas.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

Increase the salary of school teachers

We gave teachers - the cornerstone of our educational reform - a dramatic salary increase. The School Improvement Act of 2003 set ambitious goals for school reform. It also created a three-tier licensure system for New Mexico’s teachers - a system that will recognize and reward excellence in the profession. And let there be no misunderstanding - I support funding art in the school, but in every school. Art will be funded at the end of the process, and in a comprehensive manner.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

A plan that can reach straightforward education goals

I [will] focus on improving student success, & responsibly implementing critical reforms. My education plan provides for retention of quality teachers, completes the implementation of statewide full-day kindergarten, creates an extensive student testing program to accurately gauge student progress, and puts in place significant reform initiatives such as family resource services to meet student social service needs, taking the pressure off teachers so they can concentrate on teaching our children.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

Charter schools show tremendous promise

I am a strong supporter of charter schools. They provide opportunities for students to connect with the education process, and find a path to success. They are showing tremendous promise as alternatives for families who want something different - within the public school system - for their children. I promised to allocate additional resources for charter schools, and to help provide them a more level playing field with other public schools.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

Expand the lottery scholarship program for college students

My higher education plan limits tuition increases to three percent, while keeping open all financial assistance options for our students. I want to expand the lottery success scholarship program to provide more opportunity to lower income New Mexicans. We can afford it, and we must not shirk from our responsibility. My plan fully funds the new higher education formula, and provides a one-time four percent bonus for faculty, and a two percent bonus for other employees.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

No vouchers: they abandon public schools

I will tell you, right up front, that I am opposed to vouchers. To me, they represent flight and abandonment of our public schools. I believe private school vouchers would drain precious resources from the children who need it most. This is precisely the wrong step to take right now. Providing vouchers, draining our schools of funds, takes our focus off the task. It says, “We give up.” And I’m not ready to give up - I’m ready to get to work.
Source: 2002 Gubernatorial site RichardsonForGovernor.com, “Educate” , Oct 15, 2002

Provide parents with vouchers, even for religious schools