With the youth vote grabbing quite a bit of attention in this election, the issues of affordable education and higher standards in the classroom have been addressed from both campaigns. President Bush and Senator Kerry pretty much agree that college is too expensive and that America's schools can do better. But, as you might expect, they have different ideas about what to do about it.
No Child Left Behind
One of the first pieces of legislation President Bush signed into law was the No Child Left Behind Act. This law was intended to level the playing field for all students K-12 regardless of their socio-economic status by requiring all schools to equip their students with a certain level of knowledge — a.k.a. standardized testing.
Senator Kerry voted for the No Child Left Behind Act and supports it, but he accuses the president of not pushing Congress to give schools enough money to correctly implement the changes. If elected, Kerry says he will give another $30 billion to schools and broaden the standards by which they are judged.
Let's face it, the price of tuition is probably not going to spiral downward anytime soon. But both President Bush and Senator Kerry want to make higher education more affordable.
Bush wants to make Pell Grants — financial aid earmarked for economically disadvantaged students — more widely available. He also wants to build more community colleges and trade schools, which are far less expensive than private and state universities.
Senator Kerry would place greater limits on eligibility for Pell Grants, but would offer more money to each recipient.
The president would also raise educational benefits for reservists and national guardsmen, while John Kerry is proposing a yearly tax credit on the first $4,000 of college tuition.
Education For Hire
Free education? Yes, but there's a catch. Both candidates are offering financial aid in exchange for public service.
President Bush wants to double membership in the national service program AmeriCorps, adding 75,000 volunteers. Volunteers who work with the AmeriCorps program receive $4,725 a year toward their college expenses.
Kerry's "service-for-college" plan, on the other hand, calls for 500,000 new recruits to be added to the AmeriCorps program, which will then pay for full tuition at a public institution in exchange for two years of community service work.
For more information on the candidates and their positions, check back at ChooseorLose.com this week for more Bush vs. Kerry briefs. And don't forget to vote on November 2!