Dennis Kucinich on Education
Democratic Representative (OH-10)
A: My election will mean the end of No Child Left Behind as a way of achieving the education of our children, because the fact of the matter is, No Child Left Behind has made testing the end-all and be-all of education. Of course, you have to have tests, but you to realize that some school districts, the students have already started out behind. We have to make education a priority, but all this debate about education and testing is almost beside the point. We only spend a fraction of the money on education that we spend on arms buildups. Under a Kucinich administration, education becomes one of the top domestic priorities. We put money into it. We cause the government to be vitally involved in it. And we make sure our children have the love of knowledge. All this stuff about test-taking, we make children good little test-takers under No Child Left Behind. It’s the wrong approach to education.
A: There is a serious link between diminishing opportunities for education and poverty later on in life. I would do this. First of all, to institute a universal pre-kindergarten program so that every children aged 3, 4 and 5 would have access to full day-care and prepare them for the primary schools. Secondly, I would fund that with a 15% cut in the bloated Pentagon budget. The minute that you start talking about funding education people say, “How are you going to pay for it, ” but the fact of the matter is, the money’s there, we have to put the emphasis on where we get it. It begins with funding elementary and secondary education by reorganizing the No Child Left Behind Act, and it also means having free college for all American young people because we have the resources to do it. What do we stand for if we don’t stand for the education of our children? What do you think? Should we have free college?
We will create a universal pre-kindergarten program with a qualitative emphasis for education -- not quantitative so we make our children good little test-takers, but qualitative so our children learn real skills, learning skills, language, arts, and help them grow.
Learning theorists know this. Child psychologists understand this. Piaget talked all about this. Let’s give our children the chance to grow, but let’s put the money there. And I know where to get it, and I’m ready to take that action.
A: First of all, the answer to your question is yes. This is a very serious health issue. And through our education system, a president must help the country, and help our children, in particular, learn the kind of conduct that promotes health. And that also means sex education. Now, some parents may not want that, and they should have the right to opt out. But the truth of the matter is that we need to have sex education. We also need a president who is ready to embrace people with AIDS in a real, meaningful way that says that, look, we want you to receive all the care that you need by having a not-for-profit health care system.
A: My daughter, Jackie, went to the Columbus public schools and got a great education. And I want to make sure that that commitment that sent her to public school is a commitment that will cause all American children to be able to go to great public schools.
I’m ready to see at least a 15% reduction in that bloated Pentagon budget, stop funding war, start funding education. That’s where we get the money.
A: Racial inequality is real; it affects every area of our lives. Now, it’s interesting the philosophy that’s guiding leaders in the executive and the judicial branch of government, because they go out and tell people, “Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps,” and then they steal their boots.
We need to have a policy in education which first of all is guided by certain fundamental rights--[I support the] bill that makes having an equal opportunity for education a matter of a constitutional privilege. And it is imperative that we have a constitutional amendment guaranteeing educational opportunity equality.
Next, in the meantime, universal free kindergarten. Every child age 3, 4 and 5 should have access to full, quality daycare. Eliminate those disparities that we see early on in school. And finally, we need to assure that every child should have a chance for a quality college education as well.
A: No. Sending a few kids somewhere else at the public’s expense and leaving the other children in a crumbling school even shorter on funds than before is no solution at all. Vouchers divert public money away from the vast majority of public school students. In most cases, these are the students who need it the most. As president, I will lead in the fight to improve public schools, and oppose alternatives that divert attention, energy, and resources from efforts to reduce class size, enhance teacher quality, and provide every student with books, computers, and safe and orderly schools.
KUCINICH: Yes, I would. I would replace it with is a new educational structure where the focus would be on helping to bring forth the creativity of our children in stressing arts and language, music; to invite the participation of educational philosophers and psychologists and administrators and teachers and parents and children; to take a new focus on our education, to stop this incessant direction of trying to make us a nation of test-takers, of putting the pressure on teachers to teach to the test, and then school districts depending on the results of those tests for their funding. No Child Left Behind has not worked out the way that anyone thought it would. It’s become an unfunded mandate. I would have a universal pre-kindergarten program where children can go to school beginning at age 3, a fully funded elementary and secondary education act, and free college tuition for all America’s young people.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.
Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.
Proponents support voting YES because:
I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.
If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.
By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.
Title: To improve the quality and scope of science and mathematics education.
To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve the quality of public education and raise student achievement by increasing investment, strengthening accountability, raising standards for teachers, improving professional development and teacher compensation, rewarding successful schools, and providing better information to parents, and for other purposes.H.R.340: SEC. 10410. SCHOOL PRAYER.
Any State or local educational agency that is adjudged by a Federal court of competent jurisdiction to have willfully violated a Federal court order mandating that such local educational agency remedy a violation of the constitutional right of any student with respect to prayer in public schools, shall be ineligible to receive Federal funds under this Act until such time as the local educational agency complies with such order.Opposing legislation H.R.1:
No DOE funds shall be available to any educational agency which prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis. [This is weakened in HR340 by requiring a federal court ruling on each school district before the removal of DOE funds.]
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.
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