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August 4, 2015

Where do the 2016 candidates stand on education?

Thursday’s presidential debates will undoubtedly give us a glimpse into the values of the expanding field of candidates running for the highest office in our nation. As we see how the candidates perform under intense pressure, shouldn’t we also learn a bit more about where they stand on key issues that will affect education in this country? Here are a few educational issues we’d like to see raised with all candidates in the debates and on the campaign trail.

Raising reading proficiency: Today, only about one third (34 percent) of fourth graders in the US are reading at grade level. For children in low-income households, that number falls to around 20 percent. American school children are currently ranked #20 in the world on reading achievement, falling behind countries such as Vietnam and Lithuania. We have dropped 10 places since 2003. As president, what would you do to reverse this trend?

High stakes testing: Common Core is not the only controversial educational policy issue. Currently 17 states, including Florida and Ohio, require children to automatically repeat third grade based on a standardized reading test. Where do you stand on these so-called “high stakes” tests and on mandatory retention?

Funding for reading: During the administration of George W. Bush (2000 – 2008), the federal government spent more than a billion dollars a year on early reading. Today, the budgets currently pending in Congress cut funding specifically for reading programs down to zero–even though the majority of American kids still don’t read at grade level. Do you think now is the time to eliminate funding for reading programs?

As parents, community members and taxpayers, we deserve to know where our candidates stand on critical education issues.

If you could provide the questions for the presidential candidates, what would you ask about their positions on literacy and education?

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