John Kerry on Education

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


FactCheck: Bush increased Pell Grants, but not as promised

KERRY: They’ve cut the Pell Grants.

BUSH: He said we cut Pell Grants. We’ve increased Pell Grants by a million students. That’s a fact.

KERRY: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don’t have money. They’re not getting the $5,100 the president promised them . They’re getting less money.

FACT CHECK: Bush was correct. Department of Education figures show the number of Pell Grants awarded increased by 1.3 million. Spending for Pell Grants grew by $4.7 billion. That’s some “cut.” It is true that during the 2000 presidential campaign Bush promised to increase the maximum size of Pell Grants to $5,100 for first-year students, a promise that remains unfulfilled. The maximum grant has risen from $3,300 at the time Bush made that promise, but only to $4,050. Under Bush’s proposed 2005 budget the maximum grant would remain frozen there for most students for the third year in a row.

Source: Analysis of Third Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck 2004) , Oct 14, 2004

People qualify for Pell Grants because they don’t have money

BUSH: We’ve increased Pell Grants by a million students.

KERRY: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don’t have money. But they’re not getting the $5,100 the president promised them. They’re getting less money. We have more people who qualify. That’s not what we want.

Source: [Xref Bush[ Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Bush’s cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins Loans for college

BUSH: Education is how to make sure we’ve got a work force that’s productive and competitive. I’ve got more to do to continue to raise standards, to continue to reward teachers in school districts that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms, to continue to expand Pell Grants, to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma. Here’s some trade adjustment assistance money for you to go to a community college in your neighborhood, a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs.

KERRY: Bush’s cut job training money-$1 billion was cut, they only added a little bit back this year because it’s an election year. They’ve cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins Loans to help kids be able to go to college. They’ve cut the training money.

Source: [Xref Bush[ Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Bush broke promise to pay for No Child Left Behind

KERRY: We have a long distance yet to travel in terms of fairness in America. I don’t know how you can govern in this country when you look at New York City and you see that 50 percent of the black males there are unemployed, when you see 40 percent of Hispanic children dropping out of high school. Yet the president who talks about No Child Left Behind refused to fully fund -- by $28 billion -- that particular program. The president reneged on his promise to fund No Child Left Behind.

BUSH: Only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough. But more importantly, we’ve reformed the system to make sure that we solve problems early. He talked about the unemployed. Absolutely we’ve got to make sure they get educated. He talked about children whose parents don’t speak English as a first language? Absolutely we’ve got to make sure they get educated. And that’s what the No Child Left Behind Act does.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

FactCheck: Bush never promised to fully fund NCLB

KERRY: No Child Left Behind Act, I voted for it. I support it. I support the goals. But the president has underfunded it by $28 billion.

FACT CHECK: Underfunding of NCLB is an opinion and not a fact. Funding for the federal Department of Education grew a whopping 58% under Bush during his first three years, and Bush proposed another 5% increase for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, including sizeable increases in spending for children from low-income families and for special education for disabled children. What Kerry is referring to is an often-repeated Democratic charge that Bush broke a “promise” to fund the law at the maximum Congress authorized. And actually, Bush made no such promise. What he did promise was to “provide the resources necessary.” Many state officials and education experts do argue that even more funds are needed to provide resources necessary to meet the ambitious goals and standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. Still, what’s “necessary” is a matter of opinion

Source: Analysis of second Bush-Kerry debate by FactCheck 2004 , Oct 10, 2004

Fully fund No Child Left Behind

I want to fully fund education - No Child Left Behind, special needs education. And that’s how we’re going to be more competitive, by making sure our kids are graduating from school and college. China and India are graduating more graduates in technology and science than we are. We’ve got to create the products of the future. That’s why I have a plan for energy independence within 10 years. And we’re going to put our laboratories and our colleges and universities to work.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO , Oct 8, 2004

Invest in the children, not the prison system

We will set high standards and demands accountability from parents, teachers, and schools. It provides for smaller class sizes and treats teachers like the professionals they are. And it gives a tax credit to families for each and every year of college. I am determined that we stop being a nation content to spend $50,000 a year to keep a young person in prison for the rest of their life - when we could invest $10,000 to give them Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start, the best possible start in life.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Chides Bush for not fully funding No Child Left Behind

Kerry criticized the president for failing to push for full funding to carry out the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. “You cannot promise no child left behind and then pursue policies that leave millions of children behind every single day,” Kerry said, calling the new law “a promissory note to all of America’s families that must be paid in full.
Source: William Douglas/Tom Fitzgerald; Kansas City Star , May 17, 2004

Roll back tax cuts for rich to fund education

Kerry vowed that 1 million more students would graduate high school. Kerry wants to roll back Bush’s tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year and use some of the money to create a $200 billion education trust fund over 10 years. Kerry says about half the money would be used to fully fund No Child Left Behind. He also pledged to channel $30 billion over 10 years to improve teacher pay as well as raise standards.
Source: Deb Riechman, Associated Press , May 10, 2004

National Education Trust Fund: fully fund mandated standards

John Kerry is proposing a “National Education Trust Fund” to make sure that, for the first time ever, the federal government meets its obligation to fully fund our education priorities and make sure that schools can meet high standards. He believes it is time to stop sending mandates from Washington to school districts without providing the resources needed to carry them out.
Source: 2004 Senate campaign website, JohnKerry.com, “Issues” , Mar 21, 2004

Measure learning, but with flexible standards

Q: Right now we measure schools by whether they improve student performance in reading and math.

KERRY: Correct.

Q: You say now they should also be judged by things like teacher attendance, student attendance. Isn’t the point of accountability to measure not these inputs, but the output, whether students are actually learning?

KERRY: Absolutely. The most important thing is the result.

Q: So why change it?

KERRY: Because what’s happening under the Bush administration is that they are disrespecting teachers, they’re making it punitive. The way they’re applying the adequate yearly progress standard, that you can have a few kids who enter the school and may have language difficulties that year, and they could drag the whole school into a status of failure. It’s so arbitrary that it’s destroying morale of the school systems. I want standards and accountability. But you cannot do it without the resources, and you also can’t do it in a way where you turn schools into testing factories.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC , Feb 26, 2004

Vouchers drain resources from public schools

Q: Would you allow parents in areas that are poor or with bad schools to use tax money to help send their children to private schools?

A: I have never supported vouchers. I understand why parents want more choices and I believe they should have more choices in public schools. But public schools need resources and support, and vouchers drain them of both. Our inner-city schools and our rural schools need better buildings, more textbooks, higher paid teachers, the best principals, and smaller classes.

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

Stop viewing charter schools as threatening innovation

You have to observe a good charter school in action to appreciate the revolutionary nature of what often sounds like an academic concept. I’ve seen Community Day in Lawrence MA-with a student body that is 80% Hispanic, more that 2/3 poor enough to qualif for subsidized school lunches. Community Day has no particular gimmicks and no particular advantages over other schools beyond flexibility keyed to results and a lot of determination. Every student is given a personal education goal and an attainment strategy, based on his or her strengths. And the concept works. In the 2001-02 school year, Community Day had the best statewide scores in Lawrence.

Community Day has a waiting list of over 500 kids. We need to empower every school in the public school system to apply the best practices from schools across the country.

I believe it’s time to stop viewing innovative approaches as anomalies or threats to traditional public schools and begin seeing them as part of the future of public education.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.107-8 , Oct 1, 2003

Nothing good about vouchers can’t be done in public schools

I believe public financing of vouchers for private schools is pushing the country in the wrong direction. Vouchers allocate resources not among competing public schools but out of the system entirely. Private schools accepting vouchers do not agree to accept kids on an equal basis & also do not guarantee that the voucher will cover the cost of education. And most objectionally, voucher schemes do not hold private schools accountable in any way for the educational results they achieve-or do not achieve

Confusing public school choice and innovation isn’t just a matter of comparing apples & oranges-it’s comparing apples & worms. There’s nothing that’s good about a voucher system-parental choice, competition, and the ability to provide innovative instruction-that can’t also be achieved by public education. But the kind of public schools we ought to have can avoid what’s bad about vouchers: the inequality; the lack of accountability; and the gradual erosion of our sense of commonwealth.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.108-9 , Oct 1, 2003

Providing student loans for college kids is an ethical issue

[To William Weld]: Why do you veto student loans for kids who want to go to college? That’s an ethical issue for the working person.
Source: Kerry/Weld: A Classic Senate Race In Massachusetts, CNN.com , Oct 29, 1996

John Kerry on Voting Record

Supported “No Child Left Behind,” but Bush reneged

Bush’s one exercise in “compassionate conservatism” was the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, an education reform effort that I supported. The stated purpose of that legislation was to offer a new bargain to states and school districts, under which they would accept greater accountability for results in exchange for the resources and the flexibility to get the job done. The Bush administration began welshing on its side of the bargain almost before the ink was dry on the bill, undermining education funding as part of a larger strategy of directing every available school dollar toward tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This has been sadly typical of the administration’s approach to government: a rhetoric of compassion and concern accompanied by policies that are compassionate primarily toward the most comfortable members of our society.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 11-12 , Oct 1, 2003

Voted YES on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Vote on the passage of the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Pres. Bush then vetoed the Bill.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority and duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-391 on Oct 23, 2007

Voted YES 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 YES 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 YES 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 YES 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

Voted NO on allowing more flexibility in federal school rules.

This vote was a motion to invoke cloture on a bill aimed at allowing states to waive certain federal rules normally required in order to use federal school aid. [A YES vote implies support of charter schools and vouchers].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)55; N)39; NV)6
Reference: Motion to Invoke cloture on Jeffords Amdt #31; Bill S. 280 ; vote number 1999-35 on Mar 9, 1999

Voted NO on education savings accounts.

This Conference Report approved tax-sheltered education savings accounts.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)36; NV)5
Reference: H.R. 2646 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2646 ; vote number 1998-169 on Jun 24, 1998

Voted NO on school vouchers in DC.

This legislation would have amended the DC spending measure, imposing an unconstitutional school voucher program on the District.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)58; N)41; NV)1
Reference: DC Appropriations Act; Bill S. 1156 ; vote number 1997-260 on Sep 30, 1997

Voted NO on $75M for abstinence education.

Vote to retain a provision of the Budget Act that funds abstinence education to help reduce teenage pregnancy, using $75 million of the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program.
Reference: Bill S 1956 ; vote number 1996-231 on Jul 23, 1996

Voted NO on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer.

Cut off federal funds to school districts that deny students their right to constitutionally protected voluntary prayer.
Reference: Bill S.1513 ; vote number 1994-236 on Jul 27, 1994

Voted YES on national education standards.

Approval of national education standards.
Status: Bill Passed Y)71; N)25; NV)4
Reference: Goals 2000: Educate America Act; Bill H.R. 1804 ; vote number 1994-34 on Feb 8, 1994

Offer every parent Charter Schools and public school choice.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.

To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.

As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.

We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC2 on Aug 1, 2000

Three R’s: $35B for Reinvestment,Reinvention,Responsibility.

Kerry co-sponsored the Senate New Democrat Coalition Press Release:

The Public Education Reinvestment, Reinvention and Responsibility Act (Three R's) [is] the common ground from which bipartisan compromise on education reform will be successfully achieved. The Three R’s would provide public schools with significantly increased funding and flexibility, increasing federal investment in education by $35 billion over the next 5 years, and targeting most of those new dollars toward closing the persistent achievement gap between poor and more affluent students. State & local officials would be given broader latitude to decide how to allocate federal funding in order to meet the specific needs of their communities. In return, states would be required to set standards for raising academic achievement, and improve the quality of their teachers.

Source: Senate New Democrat Coalition Press Release 01-SNDC5 on Jan 23, 2001

More foreign languages courses and exchange students.

Kerry introduced a Resolution on international education policy

    Concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should establish an international education policy to enhance national security, significantly further U.S. foreign policy and economic competitiveness, and promote mutual understanding and cooperation among nations. Includes among policy objectives:
  1. producing citizens with a high level of international experience;
  2. promoting greater diversity of locations, languages, and subjects involved in teaching, research, and study abroad;
  3. increasing participation in internships abroad;
  4. invigorating citizen and professional international exchange programs;
  5. supporting visas and employment policies that promote increased numbers of international students;
  6. encouraging programs that begin foreign language learning in the United States at an early age;
  7. promoting educational exchanges and research collaboration with American educational institutions abroad; and
  8. promoting partnerships among government, business, and educational institutions and organizations to provide adequate resources for implementing this policy.
Source: Resolution sponsored by 12 Senators 01-SR7 on Feb 1, 2001

Rated 100% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

Kerry scores 100% 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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