Lincoln Chafee on Education

Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)


$6 million for RI higher education: make tuition affordable

On college tuition, Chafee said in his Budget and State of the State Address in January 2013, "We must do all we can to ensure that motivated and hardworking Rhode Islanders can obtain a quality college education and we must be sure that they do so without taking on mounting levels of debt. The biggest barriers to these goals are ever-increasing tuition rates. Therefore, in an effort to ensure that there is no tuition increase next year at the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island, I propose an increase of $6 million for higher education. However, the leadership of these institutions must meet me halfway. If they can achieve $6 million in total savings and efficiencies, coupled with the additional funding, we can guarantee the students of these schools no tuition increase next year. They have to meet us halfway."
Source: Forbes Magazine "2016 Candidates Want You to Know" series , Jun 7, 2015

Supports charters, STEM, and early education

Source: Fordham Institute EduWatch 2016 by Brandon White , Jun 4, 2015

Supports NCLB’s standardized testing, if federally funded

Q: Is No Child Left Behind succeeding as a national standard?

WHITEHOUSE: When NCLB passed, there was a promise from the Bush administration that the additional burdens that NCLB puts on the public schools would be funded by the federal government. They broke that promise. Things that are important to the learning of children--have been thrown over the side so teachers can teach to that test.

CHAFEE: I do believe that some kind of testing is a good idea. We had some in Rhode Island before NCLB came along -- we in Rhode Island were already doing it. Nationally, I do think it’s a good idea to have some kind of standard testing--some parameters to see how everyone’s doing at various grade levels. The difficulty is in the funding. We can mandate this testing but it’s expensive. If we don’t provide the resources, it ends up going to the local level, which is the property tax, and I think that’s wrong. If we’re going to mandate something at the federal level, we should pay for it.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 , Sep 13, 2006

Fund special education before tax cuts for the wealthy

Q: Your views on tax cuts?

CHAFEE: You want to return any kind of tax cuts you can to the citizens and every politician likes to do that. That’s popular. But at the same time, I wanted to be responsible, having been a mayor and then going to the Senate, my view was let’s help the property taxpayer before we help the tax cuts for the wealthy. The way we do that is fund a program that the Congress started in 1970 for the special education that helps in our schools which is all the property taxes and fund that special education. We promised in 1970 to get to 40%. We’re not above 20%. So I said before we cut the taxes for the wealthy, let’s fund this special education program. Get it up to the 40% we promised back in 1970, and that goes right to the property taxpayer before we help the wealthy.

LAFFEY: First, Chafee failed on funding the IDEA program. Two, he has voted for No Child Left Behind which is about $27 billion and counting unfunded mandate that’s going on seemingly forever.

Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate on WPRI , Aug 24, 2006

Supports parents choosing schools via vouchers

Senator Chafee believes that the Congress, the President and the Department of Education must help the thousands of communities across the nation provide a solid, comprehensive educational foundation for every American child.

As Mayor of Warwick, Senator Chafee demonstrated a strong commitment to the improvement of public schools. In Congress, Senator Chafee has championed an array of programs designed to promote the education of all children, including those with special needs.

Source: Senate web site, “Commitment to public schools” , Sep 19, 2000

Supports vouchers & charters, plus more public funding

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 1, 2000

Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors.

Vote to authorize a federal program aimed at reducing class size. The plan would assist states and local education agencies in recruiting, hiring and training 100,000 new teachers, with $2.4 billion in fiscal 2002. This amendment would replace an amendment allowing parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-103 on May 15, 2001

Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors.

Vote to pass an amendment that would authorize $200 million to provide grants to help states develop assessment systems that describe student achievement. This amendment would replace an amendment by Jeffords, R-VT, which would allow parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-99 on May 10, 2001

Voted YES on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction.

Vote to reduce the size of the $1.6 trillion tax cut by $448 billion while increasing education spending by $250 billion and providing an increase of approximately $224 billion for debt reduction over 10 years.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-69 on Apr 4, 2001

Voted NO on Educational Savings Accounts.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit tax-free savings accounts of up to $2000 per child annually to be used for public or private school tuition or other education expenses.
Reference: Bill S.1134 ; vote number 2000-33 on Mar 2, 2000

Focus educational resources to help those with greatest need.

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) helps to fulfill the most basic mission of federal education programs—equal opportunity for all children. To help improve the federal role in education, the Republican Main Street Partnership has identified the following areas that should receive priority during the reauthorization of IDEA:

Source: 2001 GOP Main Street Partnership Action Agenda for Education 01-RMSP2 on Jul 2, 2001

Require state standards, regular assessments, and sanctions.

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

Source: 2001 GOP Main Street Partnership Action Agenda for Education 01-RMSP3 on Jul 2, 2001

Support Ed-Flex: more flexibility if more accountable.

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

Source: 2001 GOP Main Street Partnership Action Agenda for Education 01-RMSP4 on Jul 2, 2001

Rated 55% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education.

Chafee scores 55% 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

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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016