Monday, October 20, 2008

Big differences in candidates' education plans

This from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Here's the biggest difference between the education plans of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama: $18 billion.

That's how much more Democrat Obama says he'd spend than Republican McCain to transform schools, from quadrupling the number of kids eligible for public preschool programs to strengthening long-neglected science education. Obama claims he can implement his long list of reforms without raising the federal deficit.

McCain's package would add less than $1 billion to the education budget. His message is about doing more with the nearly $70 billion in federal education funding already flowing to California and the other states: giving principals more say over funds while redirecting cash to online schools, home schools and tuition vouchers.

"McCain is really distinctive - his program is minimalist, featuring choice and efficiency," said Mike Kirst, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University and former president of the California Board of Education. "Obama's is more robust, with significant investments focusing on disadvantaged, low-achieving children."

McCain proposes to freeze education spending as part of his plan to suspend and scrutinize all non-military discretionary spending for one year, while Obama has said he would cut costs elsewhere in the federal budget - such as auctioning off surplus federal property and reforming federal contracting procedures - to finance his plan.

The stark differences between the candidates' education plans can best be seen in their vision for the nation's youngest children. While Obama would sink the bulk of his added funding into "a preschool agenda that begins at birth," McCain wants to improve efforts already under way...

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