Democratic Party on Education

Party Platform


All children should have access to early education programs

All children should have access to high-quality early childhood education programs. We will work with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds. Learning starts at birth, and the exorbitant costs of safe, quality childcare present a significant economic burden to families. Democrats support making childcare and dependent tax credits significantly more generous and will increase funding to states to guarantee that low-income and middle class families can afford child care.
Source: Democratic Party Platform adopted at 2020 Convention , Jul 27, 2020

Free public college for families under $125,000

We will make public colleges and universities tuition-free for students whose families earn less than $125,000--roughly 80 percent of the American people. We will double the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income students. Democrats support making community colleges and trade schools tuition-free for all students, including Dreamers.
Source: Democratic Party Platform adopted at 2020 Convention , Jul 27, 2020

OpEd: anti-school choice policy alienates Hispanics

Democrats typically pursue policies that are antithetical to the aspirations of Hispanics and other Americans, favoring increased taxes and regulations on small businesses and opposing school choice. They are leaving tremendous opportunities for Republicans to win the hearts and minds of Hispanic voters.

And yet Republicans have proven themselves remarkably tone-deaf when it comes to courting Hispanic voters--to the extent that they court them at all. Attracting Hispanic votes does not require abandoning conservative principles--quite the contrary. Rather, it means seeing Hispanic voters as individuals, most of whom fervently cherish our nation's ideals. Much common ground exists, if there is a will to find it and good faith in championing it.

To win Hispanic votes--and those of immigrants generally--Republicans should play to their strengths while avoiding alienating rhetoric that makes them appear anti-immigrant.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.209-210 , Mar 5, 2013

Turn around struggling public schools; expand public options

The Democratic Party understands the importance of turning around struggling public schools. We will continue to strengthen all our schools and work to expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.

Because there is no substitute for a great teacher at the head of a classroom, the President helped school districts save more than 400,000 educator jobs. We Democrats honor our nation's teachers. If we want high-quality education for all our kids, we must listen to the people who are on the front lines. The President has laid out a plan to prevent more teacher layoffs while attracting and rewarding great teachers. This includes raising standards for the programs that prepare our teachers, recognizing and rewarding good teaching, and retaining good teachers. We also believe in carefully crafted evaluation systems that give struggling teachers a chance to succeed and protect due process.

Source: 2012 Democratic Party Platform , Sep 4, 2012

Double investment in Pell Grants & more tax credits

To help keep college within reach for every student, Democrats took on banks to reform our student loan program, saving more than $60 billion by removing the banks acting as middlemen so we can better and more directly invest in students. To make college affordable for students of all backgrounds and confront the loan burden our students shoulder, we doubled our investment in Pell Grant scholarships and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, and we're creating avenues for students to manage their federal student loans so that their payments can be only 10% of what they make each month.

We Democrats also recognize the economic opportunities created by our nation's community colleges. That is why the President has invested in community colleges and called for additional partnerships between businesses and community colleges to train two million workers with the skills they need for good jobs waiting to be filled.

Source: 2012 Democratic Party Platform , Sep 4, 2012

Make college tuition tax deductible

Democrats know that the key to expanding opportunity is to provide every child with a strong foundation of education. We will also help expand educational opportunities for college by making college tuition tax deductible, expanding Pell Grants, and cut student loan interest rates.
Source: 2006 Democratic Party Congressional Promise , Nov 1, 2006

Standardized tests to advance learning, not bureaucracy

We will use testing to advance real learning, not undermine it, by developing high-quality assessments that measure the complex skills students need to develop. We will make sure that federal law operates with high standards and common sense, not just bureaucratic rigidity.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.31-32 , Jul 10, 2004

Charter schools OK, vouchers not

Instead of pushing private school vouchers that funnel scarce dollars away from the public schools, we will support public school choice, including charter schools and magnet schools that meet the same high standards as other schools. And at a time when so many schools charged with our future are relics of the past, we will build new schools and offer the technology and equipment for a 21st century education.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.31-32 , Jul 10, 2004

Support lifelong learning and Distance Learning

In addition to reforming K-12 education, we will expand training and opportunities for Americans of all ages. We will support regional skills alliances, workforce development conducted at community colleges, and other initiatives that prepare workers for
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.22 , Jul 10, 2004

Bush broke promise of NCLB by not funding it

For this White House, education is an easy promise - easy come, and easy go. When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, he said the right things - asking more from our schools and pledging to give them the resources to get the job done. And then he promptly broke his word, providing schools $27 billion less than he had promised, literally leaving millions of children behind. The President also gets a failing grade for higher education. Over the last three years, college tuitions have risen by 35 percent, pricing 220,000 students out of college. Yet while then- Governor Bush promised to increase college aid, President Bush tried to charge more for student loans and eliminate Pell Grants for 84,000 students.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.30 , Jul 10, 2004

Democrats are the party of public education

Republicans stress lack of accountability while Democrats claim inadequate resources. Democrats must stick to their principles of supporting our public schools, but they also must not be afraid to embrace new solutions and increased accountability to improve them.

Vouchers for private school are not the panacea that the Republicans would have people believe, and they threaten to undermine our existing public schools. Charter schools hold selective promise, but are only a part of the answer. We must embrace comprehensive reform of our public school system that does not continually seek, as the Republicans often do, simply to remove children from, or undermine, those systems.

We must be willing to close persistently failing schools that have not responded to help, in favor of new schools with new staff and new approaches. Democrats are the party of public education and therefore we must be the party that demands the most from public education.

Source: Crossroads, by Andrew Cuomo, p. 72 , Oct 14, 2003

Education is top priority in Democrat presidency

Gore will make education his top domestic priority. Nine out of every ten children in this country attend a public school. We know that America will not remain first in the world economically unless we become first in the world educationally. We should have a fully qualified teacher in every classroom. Every failing school in America should be turned around - or shut down and reopened under new leadership. We should ensure that no high school student graduates unless they have mastered the basics. Parents across the nation ought to be able to choose the best public school for their children. Every eighth grader in America should be computer literate. Affordable pre-school should be fully available to every family. Every child should learn in a safe, modern classroom with the most up-to-date technology. The achievement gap between students of color and the rest of America’s students should be eliminated.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

Character education is an important aspect of education

Education is not just about test scores, but about passing on our values to the next generation of American citizens. We should have a zero-tolerance policy towards guns in schools. Each school should institute strict, firm, and fair discipline policies that are agreed upon on the first day of the school year at a meeting of teachers, parents, and students. Democrats believe in “second-chance schools” where kids expelled from school can get the concentrated help they need to get back on the path. Democrats have increased after-school assistance 500 times over in the last four years. Character education is so important in our schools. Schools need to make sure they teach kids respect, reliability, and responsibility as well.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

Accountability is a key to public school success

Accountability means we will no longer tolerate mediocrity. Accountability applies to states, districts, schools, teachers, students, and parents. Consistently bad schools should be shut down. Students in those schools should get first priority in transferring to a better-performing public school. Teaching contracts should not be an automatic lifetime job guarantee. The federal government needs to be held accountable.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

Reduce class size, modernize facilities, hire new teachers

We need to put one million new teachers in our classrooms. We must reduce class size by hiring 100,000 teachers. We need to pay teachers like professionals. We should rebuild school buildings to assure students can attend schools that are modern and safe. We need to construct new schools to meet the needs of the largest generation of students in history. We must assure that schools have the resources to meet the challenges of an increasingly diverse student population.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

Enact new tax programs to enable more life-long learning

Gore has proposed a National Tuition Savings program to tie together state savings programs in more than 30 states so that parents can save for college tax-free. We propose a tax cut that allows families to choose either a $10,000 a year tax deduction or a $2,800 tax credit. The next great frontier in American education is expanding lifelong learning. We should create a tax credit for employers. We must also give training allowances that will extend unemployment insurance for those who need time to finish their training courses. Gore has called for new 401(j) accounts that would let employers help employees save tax free and use those savings for learning. He has also called for a permanent tax exemption to encourage employers to provide tuition assistance benefits.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

U.S. needs public school accountability, not vouchers

The Democratic Party supports expansion of charter schools, magnet schools, site-based schools, year-round schools, and other nontraditional options. Public schools should have the freedom to design their curriculum within standards and should compete for students. What America needs are public schools that compete and are held accountable for results, not private school vouchers that drain resources from public schools and hand over the public’s hard-earned tax dollars to private schools.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
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)
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Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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Page last updated: Feb 24, 2022