Education and the Candidates
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush's fiscal 2009 budget request included provisions that would reauthorize and expand funding for the No Child Left Behind law to $24.5 billion, a 41 percent increase since its enactment in 2002. The 2009 plan would also increase Title I grants to schools with high numbers of impoverished students to $14.3 billion, an increase of 63 percent since NCLB's enactment. Mr. Bush also requested $175 million for the American Competitiveness Initiative, which was created to strengthen math, science and foreign-language curricula.
During Jan. 28 State of the Union address, Mr. Bush outlined a new program called Pell Grants for Kids, a K-12 scholarship proposal that would provide funding for low-income students in failing schools to transfer to local private or out-of-district public schools. The 2009 budget, which was released Monday, includes $300 million for this initiative.
Mr. Bush also put forth an ambitious request to increase federal aid for college students, this on the heels of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that he signed in September, which designated $11.4 billion in new funding for Pell Grants over the next five years. For fiscal 2009, Mr. Bush hopes to increase the maximum per-student allowance for Pell Grants, which do not need to be repaid, to $4,800 and hopes to see them increase to $5,400 by 2012. Overall, money for Pell Grants has increased 116 percent since 2001, according to White House tallies. This new budget request would also designate $95 billion for student loans to college students.
As Congress and the White House grapple over reauthorizing NCLB and how to make college more affordable, it is worth looking at where the major presidential candidates want to steer education policy.
Hillary Clinton has called for a "total change" to NCLB, even though she voted for the original legislation, saying the law doesn't grant states enough flexibility to measure student achievement. Mrs. Clinton has called for an expansion of early childhood education, and more charter and technical schools. …