Howard Dean on Education
Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President
A: No Child Left Behind is bad policy. TX & OH have already reduced educational standards in order to save money. This bill is hurting American education, not helping it. We need accountabilit in education and high standards and this bill is doing the opposite. I would scrap the majority of No Child Left Behind, fully fund special education and create a very high standards test with technical assistance to help schools meet the goals.
This new federal law will result in the identification-or mis-identification-of between 30% and 65% of all community schools (depending on your state) as failing. The enormous cost of coming into federal compliance will fall on local property taxpayers. In Vermont, we may forego federal education funds altogether because in the long run this law threatens to make our schools worse rather than better!
Vermont, like many other states, already has a strong testing and accountability program. By the President’s own measure, Vermont’s students collective rank sixth in the country. Now our system is at risk because of a new federally-dictated definition of quality.
Governor Dean left the problem to the Legislature, which produced Act 60 - the Equal Educational Opportunity Act - which assessed a statewide property tax of $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, which was then placed into an education fund, which the state then distributed in block grants. This guaranteed a threshold amount to be spent per student regardless of where the student lived. If a town wanted to spend more than the threshold, the money went into a pool shared by the richer towns with the poorer towns. The solution angered everyone a little, but Dean stood by Act 60 staunchly during his 1998 reelection campaign.
Some Democrats are joining in the push for more federal funding to carry out the law’s requirements. Gov. Howard Dean calls the education measure the “every school board left behind” act. “It’s not going to accomplish anything except raising local property taxes,” he says. Dean as well as some school officials refer to the gap in federal support as an “unfunded mandate” - buzzwords that Republicans used for decades when Democrats ruled Capitol Hill and passed laws without adequately compensating states for having to carry them out.
A: Vouchers undermine public education, a cornerstone of our democracy. I oppose all public funding of private school tuition, including demonstration programs like the one President Bush is foisting on Washington, DC, and the one Governor Jeb Bush has instituted in Florida, since they siphon badly needed resources from our public schools.
The federal government must recognize that an enormous number of our teachers are retiring in the coming years and provide incentives to inspire a new generation of great teachers. In addition, Washington needs to provide a cost share to help local communities fix their most rundown schools (not only improving education, but providing construction jobs).
Principles of the Democratic Governors Association:
IMPROVING PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND INVESTING IN OUR YOUNGEST CHILDREN
Democratic Governors are leading the way with highly-trained teachers, strong standards and accountability, increased funding to repair and modernize public school facilities, access to technology and computers, and more discipline and safety in the classrooms. Democratic Governors believe the most important aspect to insure a child’s education is to have the best possible teachers in the classroom. They believe that we must value teachers as professionals, encourage their development to be the best teachers they can be for our children and compensate them accordingly. Democratic Governors favor greater parental choice, but oppose measures that weaken public schools diverting taxpayer dollars to private schools with no accountability for results. Democratic Governors around the country are also forming innovative public-private partnerships to create programs to provide early childhood education, nutrition and health care services to ensure that our children have the best possible start in life.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)