In light of the Vice Presidential debate tonight we put together a short primer on where both of the VP picks stand on education. Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive official list of either candidate’s stance. Rather, we have attempted to trace both their activities on education before they were potential VPs to paint a fuller picture.
Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic VP nominee, has a history of support for higher education legislation including expanding the college tuition tax deduction, lifetime learning credit, and the HOPE credits. He has co-sponsored bills related to public Service Academies, education funding equity, expansion of school-age childcare, and school safety. He also co-sponsored the Educational Excellence for All Act in 2003which aimed to increase the funding authorization for the Elementary and secondary education Act (ESEA) and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(IDEA).
Biden’s platform from his presidential race website adds a few more details. He believes a strong and comprehensive early education system, reduced class sizes, and the importance of graduating from high school. He would like to pay teachers more, create a scholarship program to encourage students to enter teaching and improve mentoring and induction programs. His platform also presents a College Access Plan that would increasePell Grant limits, begin college counseling in eighth grade, and create a $3,000 tuition tax credit.
Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican VP nominee, ran for governor in 2006 on a platform that supported accountability, vocational and technical training, parental-choice, charter schools, homeschooling, and other alternatives to traditional public education. She proposed a three-year school funding plan for Alaska that would increase funding by $1 billion each year to raise the base student allocation, provide more services for special needs students, and increase forward-funding to allow schools and districts to plan ahead. She also proposed creating a $20 million need-based aid program for the University of Alaska system.
In speeches and interviews, Palin has expressed her support for school choice, abstinence education, moral education, and career-readiness tests. As Mayor of Wasilla and during her gubernatorial race, she voiced her support for teaching creationism or intelligent design in science classrooms but did not introduce legislation tied to these issues. During her speech at the Republican Convention, she pledged to be an advocate for special needs students.
This background gives us a little peek into the candidates’ approaches to education; we would love to learn more. While there is no guarantee that education will make an”appearance” during the debate tonight, we will be watching in hopes that it does.
Disclaimer: The editor of Ed Money Watch used to work for Senator Biden.