Presidential Candidates and Campaigns

 

Al Gore 2000 On The Issues

Al Gore 2000 On The Issues

EDUCATION

"There is no greater test of our national responsibility than the quality of the education we provide." - Al Gore

Al Gore knows that education is a top national priority that requires national leadership and national investment. With ninety percent of America's students in public schools, we have a strong responsibility to improve public education as a cornerstone of our democracy and prosperity. By demanding high standards from our schools, teachers and students while investing in the tools they need to succeed, we can make revolutionary improvements in our public schools. Al Gore has a bold plan to invest more in our schools while also expecting more from them. Gore's plan to revolutionize education would:

RAISE STANDARDS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Because Al Gore knows that accountability without investment is doomed to fail, but greater investment without accountability for results is a waste of money, he will demand more from all of our teachers, students, schools and states. Gore's plan would use required testing to measure achievement and attach real consequences to the results of those tests.

  • Using Tests to Measure Results: Al Gore is committed to promoting policies that use tests appropriately to ensure accountability.
    • Teachers: Gore would require states to ensure that all new middle-and high-school teachers pass a rigorous test of their teaching skills and knowledge of the subject they will teach before they set foot in the classroom. Gore's plan would also test new elementary school teachers in their teaching skills and knowledge of strategies to teach reading.
    • Schools: Gore would use state assessments and accountability systems to identify failing schools and ensure they are turned around quickly, and to reward schools that are succeeding.
    • States: Gore's plan calls for all states to administer the respected National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card, to assess state-level performance. States would be required to administer NAEP tests in reading and math in the 4th, 8th and 12th grades every two years by 2004. Gore's plan would reward and sanction states based on student performance as measured by the NAEP test.
    • Students: Under the Gore plan, states will be required to test all public school students in reading and math at least three times between 3rd grade and graduation – once in each of grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12. Gore would also encourage states to create rigorous high school exit requirements. Gore would also support voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math to help parents to measure their child's progress against a national standard.
  • Holding Teachers Accountable: Gore's plan will make sure there is a qualified teacher in every classroom, and hold teachers to high professional standards. He would require states to ensure that all teachers are fully qualified and certified and that new teachers have passed a rigorous test of their subject knowledge and teaching skills. His Higher Standards/Higher Pay Initiative would also require periodic peer reviews of licensed teachers and faster, fair ways to identify, improve and, where necessary, remove failing teachers.
  • Holding Schools Accountable: Gore's plan will require states and school districts to identify failing schools using state standards and put in place an aggressive plan to turn those schools around, including research-based curricula and a rigorous peer evaluation of every teacher. Schools that do not improve would be shut down and reopened under new leadership with a team of experienced teachers, or as a charter school. Gore's plan also increases public school choice, with funds to triple the number of charter schools, and requires schools to issue performance report cards to help parents select the school best-suited to their child's needs and hold schools accountable for student performance.
  • Holding States Accountable: Gore's plan would use NAEP scores to hold states accountable for raising student performance and closing the achievement gap, while using state measures to hold schools and school districts accountable for identifying failing schools and lowering drop-out rates. Gore would convert significant federal education programs into achievement-based funds. States that fail to improve, based on performance on the NAEP, would lose some federal administrative funds. These funds would be used instead to support local efforts to turn around low-performing schools by investing in proven reforms through Gore's $500 million Accountability Fund. Gore's plan would also provide bonuses to states that demonstrate significant progress in closing the achievement gap and raising student performance.
  • Holding Students Accountable: Gore's plan encourages states to develop high school completion requirements - to ensure that every student leaves school with the skills he or she needs to succeed. And, in addition to required NAEP testing to measure state-wide progress, Gore would encourage schools to adopt voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math so parents know their children are mastering the basics. He will also increase efforts to keep kids in school and close the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers.

INVEST MORE IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Al Gore will invest an additional $170 billion over ten years to help every child in our public schools reach high standards.

  • Early Education and Universal Preschool: Gore's plan will start with a momentous strategy for early education by making high-quality, voluntary preschool available to every 4-year-old and an increasing number of 3-year-olds. It will also expand funding for Head Start and Early Head Start and help families pay for high quality child-care - to ensure every child starts school ready to learn.
  • Raise Teacher Pay: We should pay teachers like the professionals they are. Gore's plan will provide funding to help raise teacher salaries in school districts that commit to improving teacher quality.
  • Recruit and Train New Teachers: Gore will finish the job of hiring 100,000 qualified teachers to lower class sizes in the early grades. And to help schools meet record student enrollments, Gore will provide funding to help recruit, hire and train 1,000,000 new teachers over the next ten years, with incentives for those who commit to work in a high-need school.
  • Rebuild Crumbling Schools: Gore will help communities rebuild and modernize school buildings to assure our students can attend schools that are modern, safe, and well-equipped for learning.
  • Access to New Technology: Gore's plan will finish wiring every classroom to the Internet and train students and teachers to use information technology to individualize learning and bridge the digital divide.
  • Special Education for Students with Disabilities: Gore will reaffirm the importance of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by making a substantial increased investment in special education, as a downpayment toward reaching the goal of 40% Federal funding. His plan would make the Federal government a better partner to states in ensuring that children with disabilities have access to a free appropriate education - a policy which has opened the doors of public schools to children with special needs.
  • Making Higher Education More Affordable: Gore will help parents and students save tax-free to make college and lifelong learning more affordable and make up to $10,000 of college tuition tax-deductible.

Creating Opportunities to Learn

"There is no greater test of our national responsibility than the quality of the education we provide." - Al Gore

Al Gore knows that providing all of our young people with an outstanding education is a top national priority requiring national leadership. A fundamentally new challenge for our public schools is to help every child reach the high standards needed for success in today's economy, society, and democracy. Earlier in the 20th Century, it was possible for many children to get just a few years of schooling and acquire the skills needed to get a good industrial-age job, earn a living to raise a family and become a contributing member of society. Today, the information economy requires all of our young people to reach a higher level of skill and education than ever before.

With ninety percent of America's students in public schools, we have a strong responsibility to improve public education as a cornerstone of our democracy and prosperity. By demanding high standards from our schools, teachers and students while investing in the tools they need to succeed, we can make revolutionary improvements in our public schools. Al Gore has a bold plan to invest more in our schools while also expecting more from them - ensuring that children across America can attend safe, disciplined schools where they get the high-quality education they need to succeed. Gore's plan to revolutionize education would:

RAISE STANDARDS AND BOOST ACCOUNTABILITY.

Al Gore knows that accountability without investment is doomed to fail, but greater investment without accountability for results is a waste of money. His plan demands more from all teachers, students and schools.

  • High Standards for Schools: We cannot tolerate failing schools. Gore's plan will require states and school districts to identify failing schools and put in place an aggressive plan to turn those schools around - with strict accountability for results, and strong incentives for success. Schools that did not improve significantly within two years could be shut down and reopened under new public leadership to attract an outstanding new principal and a team of experienced teachers to turn that school around. The plan also expands public school choice, triples the number of charter schools, and requires schools to issue performance report cards to help parents select the right school for their children and hold schools accountable for student performance. Gore's plan ties some state funding to student achievement - with strong rewards for success and consequences for failure. And Gore's plan ensures that schools adopt firm, fair discipline policies that include zero-tolerance policies for guns.
  • High Standards for Teachers: We should treat teachers like the professionals they are and hold them to high professional standards. Gore's plan will make sure there is a qualified teacher in every classroom, and hold teachers to high professional standards - requiring rigorous testing for all new teachers, periodic peer reviews of licensed teachers and faster, fair ways to identify, improve and, where necessary, remove failing teachers.
  • High Standards for Students: We need to demand more from all of our students. Under the Gore plan, states will be required to test all public school students in reading and math at least three times between 3rd grade and graduation – once in each of grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12. Gore's plan also encourages states to develop high school graduation requirements and exams to ensure that every student leaves school with the skills he or she needs to succeed - and voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math to make certain every student masters the basics. He will also strengthen efforts to keep kids in school and close the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. These initiatives build on legislation proposed by the Administration ensuring that states institute high standards for all students and assessments that measure progress toward those standards. .

INVEST MORE IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Al Gore will invest an additional $115 billion over ten years to help every child in our public schools reach high standards.

  • Early Education and Universally Available Preschool: Gore's plan starts with a bold strategy for early education by making high-quality, voluntary preschool available to every 4-year-old and an increasing number of 3-year-olds. It will also expand funding for Head Start and Early Head Start and help families pay for high quality child-care - to ensure every child starts school ready to learn.
  • High-Quality Teachers for All Students: Gore has a comprehensive plan to boost teacher quality, including incentives and support to recruit one million outstanding new teachers over ten years to help schools deal with rising student enrollments and projected teacher retirements. Because Gore believes we should treat and pay teachers like the professionals they are, his plan would also provide bonuses to teachers in communities that adopt aggressive plans to boost teacher quality.
  • Smaller Classes and Modern School Buildings: Gore will help communities build and modernize school buildings to assure our students attend schools that are modern, safe, and well-equipped for learning. And he will finish the job of hiring 100,000 well-qualified teachers to reduce class size in the early grades.
  • Effective Use of New Technology and Access to Quality After-School Programs: Gore's plan will finish wiring every classroom to the Internet and train students and teachers to use information technology to individualize learning and bridge the digital divide. And it will provide 10 million students with access to high-quality after-school programs.
  • Making Higher Education More Affordable: Gore will help parents and students save tax-free to make college and lifelong learning more affordable and make up to $10,000 of college tuition tax-deductible.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

"No government program can ever replace the love, warmth, and support of a family. But as a society, we can make it a whole lot easier for families to be strong. We can give practical support and more options to Americans caring for small children. And we can give all our children the help they need early in life to soar as high as their dreams can carry them." - Al Gore

HEAD START AND EARLY HEAD START

  • Gore's plan starts with a child's earliest years, and includes the ongoing growth of Head Start and Early Head Start. Gore supports the Administration's proposal to invest an additional $1 billion in Head Start this year - the largest single funding increase ever proposed for the program - to provide Head Start and Early Head Start (for children aged 0-3) to approximately 950,000 children and help reach the goal of serving at least one million children by 2002. Since 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent.

MAKING HIGH-QUALITY PRE-SCHOOL AVAILABLE TO ALL

Studies show that investment in early education pays tremendous benefits in terms of higher IQ's, higher reading and achievement levels, higher graduation rates and greater success in the workplace. Disadvantaged children who attend pre-school benefit the most. They repeat fewer grades and learn at a higher level.

  • Making High Quality Pre-School Universally Available: Al Gore has proposed a $50 billion plan to provide universal access to high-quality preschool. While not all parents would choose to participate, under Gore's plan no 4-year-old would go without preschool because of family income. After a state has made preschool universally available, the federal funds could be devoted to children aged 3 and younger, or to create year-round, full day, or multi-year programs.
  • Flexibility: This preschool initiative places a strong emphasis on flexibility for states and offers choice for parents, while holding providers accountable for results. States could use this funding to create and support public preschool programs in a variety of community-based settings such as public schools, community centers, child care providers, and Head Start centers, among others.
  • High Standards: States would be required to identify developmentally-appropriate curricula that prepare children for success in reading and in school. They also must set high educational, safety, and quality standards for their state-wide public preschool program and hold providers accountable for meeting these standards.
  • Supporting Early Childhood Educators: In addition, Gore will take measures to ensure quality by setting aside resources for a "Preschool Quality Fund" to offer professional development and support other strategies to ensure high quality preschool. Gore will help talented people become fully certified preschool teachers and recruit an army of well-trained college students as tutors to help preschool children get ready to read.

CHILD CARE

Studies consistently show that high quality child care improves school readiness and overall academic achievement. Of the 13 million young children currently enrolled in child care, however, only a small percentage is enrolled in high quality child care centers. Over half of all states do not require any training or credentialing of staff before they begin caring for children in child care.

As President, Gore would fight to lower the costs and improve the quality of child care. Specifically, Gore would:

  • Make Child Care More Affordable for Working Families: Gore would make the existing child care tax credit refundable for families with little or no tax liability. Under current law, a typical family of four with an income under $25,000 has no tax liability and therefore is ineligible for relief from their often-significant child care costs. By making the child care tax credit refundable, families with no tax liability could receive up to $2,400 to help offset the cost of child-care.

Additionally, Gore would increase the amount in child care expenses families who pay taxes can claim. Currently, the child care tax credit allows families to claim 30 percent of the costs of child care. Gore would raise that level to half of a family's total costs for care.

  • Improve the Safety and Staff Quality of Child Care Centers: Gore would establish a Ready-to-Learn fund to improve the quality and accountability of child care. It would require participating states to develop a plan to improve the basic health and safety standards in child care centers and home-based child care, including background checks for workers and regular, unannounced quality checks. States would have to develop steps to ensure that sub-standard facilities were either turned around or closed down. Beyond ensuring safety, states would also have to develop a plan to increase the number of child care programs that are fully accredited, raise the minimum level of training for child care staff and provide financial incentives to help increase the number of quality and credentialed child care staff.
  • Ensure Child Care Helps Children Start School Ready to Read: Gore would call for a comprehensive effort to ensure that child care helps prepare children to start school ready to read. States receiving Ready-to-Learn funds would be required to establish early reading programs - helping states support literacy training for child care staff and ensure that there is a sufficient number of books per child at every child care program in the country.
  • Provide Tax Relief and Family Leave for Stay-at-Home Parents: Gore would provide tax relief for parents who stay at home to care for their babies and expand family leave for those working outside the home. Gore would allow parents who stay at home with children under the age of one to use the child care tax credit by claiming assumed child care expenses of $500. Gore would also expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to businesses with more than 25 employees and give families 24 hours of additional time off for emergencies or school needs.
  • Expand Funding for Head Start: Gore's plan starts with a child's earliest years, and includes the ongoing growth of Head Start and Early Head Start. Gore supports the Administration's proposal to invest an additional $1 billion in Head Start this year - the largest single funding increase ever proposed for the program - to provide Head Start and Early Head Start (for children aged 0-3) to approximately 950,000 children and help reach the goal of serving at least one million children by 2002. Since 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent.

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES

  • Al Gore also understands that our children need health care and nutrition to succeed. His health care proposal expands the Children's Health Insurance Program to ensure that every child in America has access to affordable, quality health insurance. And to ensure that no child goes hungry, Gore will take new steps to fight hunger in America and help working parents feed their families. It would be the cruelest of ironies, if, in this time of great bounty in America, we did not solve, once and for all, the moral challenge of child hunger. Hunger does not just weaken the child - it weakens our society. Helping parents feed their families will require strengthening the nutrition safety net - such as the school breakfast program, food stamps and the food program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) - and supporting community efforts to address hunger. For many children, food assistance can make the difference between failure and success in school.

K-12TH GRADE EDUCATION

Al Gore understands that we must provide all of our young people with the high-quality education they need and deserve. Meeting that challenge will require revolutionary improvements in our public schools - schools which educate 90% of our children. Gore is proposing to create a $115 billion, ten-year Education Reform Trust ensuring that a portion of our nation's budget surpluses can be used for this essential investment in our children's future. These investments will provide support to help students reach high standards, including universally available preschool; smaller class sizes; modern, well-equipped classrooms; small, safe, successful high schools; and high quality teachers.

But these targeted investments are only part of the solution. We also need to demand more from students, teachers, and schools. Gore believes that investment without standards and accountability is a waste of money, but accountability without investment is doomed to fail. We need to aim higher and invest more, not aim too low and invest too little. His comprehensive accountability agenda would help fix failing schools, increase public school choice and competition, improve teacher quality, promote high school exit exams, and hold states and schools accountable for improving student achievement while closing the opportunity gap - with consequences for failure and rewards for success.

These proposals build on the Administration's successful fight to end the era of low expectations for students and our public schools. In 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration proposed and fought for legislation requiring states to establish rigorous standards for what children should know and be able to institute regular tests to measure progress, and provide accountability for results. This legislation (the Goals 2000 Act and the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) ensured that states held disadvantaged students to the same high standards established for all students. By next year, nearly all fifty states will have these results-driven systems in place.

AL GORE'S PLAN TO HOLD STATES, SCHOOLS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS ACCOUNTABLE FOR RESULTS

Al Gore has outlined a comprehensive plan to hold states and schools accountable for helping students from all backgrounds reach high academic standards. His plan would:

1. Turn Around Every Failing School in America.

"Most schools are doing pretty well, and we know how they can improve. But there are too many school districts in America where less than half the students graduate, and where those who do graduate aren't ready for college or good jobs. And that should be recognized for what it is: a national emergency." - Al Gore

Al Gore's plan would require every state and every school district to identify failing schools, and work to turn them around - with strict accountability for results, and strong incentives for success. As President, Gore would provide $500 million for an Accountability Fund, and offer extra support to students, including after-school help for every child while their school is being turned around. Schools with approved reform plans will also receive top priority for Gore's initiatives to provide smaller classes and well-trained teachers. Unless substantial improvement is made quickly, these schools will be shut down and reopened with new leadership and a team of experienced teachers or as a charter school.

  • Providing after-school help for every child in a failing school or the opportunity to transfer to a better-performing public school. As soon as a school has been identified by the state as failing and designated for corrective action, states and districts would be required to provide support and expertise to turn the school around. Students in failing schools would be offered the chance to transfer to a better-performing public school in their district, or to get after-school help to ensure they were not left behind academically while their school was being turned around.
  • Overhauling the curriculum, with professional development for all teachers and fast, fair ways to identify and remove low-performing teachers. If the school had not sufficiently improved after one year of corrective action, the state and district would be required to overhaul its curriculum; conduct a full evaluation of every teacher; provide intensive professional development for all teachers and improve or remove low-performing teachers.
  • Closing down the school and reopening it under new leadership with incentives to attract an outstanding principal and team of teachers to turn the school around. If the school does not make significant progress after two years, it would be closed down and reopened under a new principal with a proven record of success and a team of experienced teachers to come in and turn that school around. Principals would be offered incentives of up to $20,000, outstanding teachers would be offered incentives of up to $10,000, and the team would be given the decision-making authority to manage budgets and hire staff. The school could also be reopened as a charter school.

2. Expand Choice and Competition in Public Education.

"Public school choice and competition are essential if we want to push schools to the highest possible levels of excellence in education." - Al Gore

  • Tripling the Number of Charter Schools by 2005. Charter schools help expand parental choice and accountability within the public school system. Under the Clinton/Gore Administration, the number of charter schools has grown from one in the country when Clinton and Gore took office to more than 1,700 today. Gore's plan will help triple the number of high quality, publicly accountable charter schools to expand choice within public education for students and their families. This initiative will help create schools that are not only smaller, but also have a common mission; teacher, parent and student buy-in; and increased autonomy. Gore's plan would build on the Administration's charter school fund to provide planning and start-up grants, help high-performing charter schools share their successes with other charter schools, and help charter schools establish clear performance benchmarks for success to help ensure that they are models of accountability for public schools. His plan will also create charter school incubators to help increase the supply of high-quality public schools by helping communities offer vital assistance and create a physical site where charter schools can operate until they have attracted sufficient students and secured sufficient financing to move into permanent space. Finally, his plan ensures that his initiative to build and modernize other public schools across the nation can provide support to help finance facilities costs of charter schools as well.
  • Turning Around Low-Performing Districts with Universal Public School Choice and Comprehensive Reform. Al Gore will help turn around 100 of the lowest-performing school districts in America through a competitive grant program to help selected school districts adopt comprehensive standards-based reforms, convert every public school into a school of choice, allow all parents to choose the right public school for their child, and provide principals, advised by teams of teachers, greater freedom over their own resources and staffing. Under this proposal, schools would enter into contracts outlining performance standards and consequences for failure, and students could enroll in the school of their choice. This program would support serious reform in chronically low-performing school districts through choice, competition, and accountability. To qualify for funding, districts would also have to outline aggressive plans to ensure quality teachers and principals in every school, with appropriate professional development and training for all, and schools would adopt research-based instructional approaches geared to help all students reach high standards. This strategy would help take the charter school movement to the next level, where all public schools have the freedom to design their own mission and compete for students. Al Gore believes we should give parents and students the ability to choose public schools that are held accountable for results, not private schools with no public accountability.
  • Giving Parents the Tools to Hold Schools Accountable and Choose the Right Public School for their Child. As President, Al Gore will require states and school districts to disseminate annual report cards for each school, school district and state. These report cards will include information on student achievement, detail teacher qualifications, class size, school safety, and attendance and graduation rates. Report cards can help identify troubled schools, highlight achievement gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers and empower parents to make effective demands and informed choices.

3. Hold Teachers to High Professional Standards.

"No teaching license should be a lifetime job guarantee - but we should give all our teachers the support and training they need to succeed... We should treat teachers like professionals - we should pay them like professionals - and we should hold them to high professional standards." - Al Gore

Excellent teachers are at the heart of educational excellence. Studies have shown that the greatest single in-school factor affecting student achievement is teacher quality. Yet numerous teachers teach subjects for which they lack adequate preparation. One quarter of secondary school teachers lack even a minor in the subject they teach, and students in schools with the highest minority enrollment have a less than 50 percent chance of having a math or science teacher with a license and degree in the field. Al Gore believes we need to treat teachers like the professionals they are, pay them like professionals and provide the support they need to succeed.

  • Testing Every New Teacher. Al Gore's plan will insist that all new teachers are tested and meet a high standard before entering the teaching force. Gore would require states to ensure that all new teachers pass rigorous assessments that meet high national standards including tests of their subject matter knowledge and teaching proficiency. In addition to testing middle and high school teachers on the subject they will teach, Gore's plan would test new elementary school teachers to ensure they are knowledgeable about research-based practices for teaching children to read.
  • Ensuring a Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom by 2004. Gore would require that as a prerequisite for receiving federal funding under Title I, states must guarantee that 100 percent of their teachers are fully certified by 2004. Any teacher that is not fully certified must be working quickly toward full certification including through a high-quality alternative route, or fully certified in another state and working toward meeting state-specific requirements. States will also be required to ensure that teachers have a major or minor or demonstrated competence in the subject area in which they teach, and every teacher should have regular, rigorous evaluations in order to get and keep their teaching license.
  • Improving or Removing Low-Performing Teachers. Communities that choose to participate in Gore's higher standards/higher pay initiative would be required to adopt fast, fair ways to identify, improve and -- when necessary -- remove low-performing teachers. While the vast majority of teachers are doing a good job, some are not. Those that are still performing poorly after quick, intensive efforts to help them improve unfairly reflect on other teachers and deprive our children of the education they need to succeed. In the context of due process protections, communities must quickly remove low-performing teachers.
  • Empower Schools to Hire Based on Expertise, Not Seniority. Under the current system, many principals are bound to accept and assign teachers based more on seniority than on merit or the needs of the school. Principals attempting to build a team with a common mission or goal are often unable to exercise discretion in assembling their staff because they are obliged to choose the most senior teacher interested in the job. Participating communities in the higher standards/higher pay initiative would empower principals working with teams of teachers to hire their own staffs based on expertise and support for the school's academic mission, rather than just on seniority.

4. Make Sure Students Graduate with the Skills They Need to Succeed.

"We need to set our sights high, and establish real benchmarks to measure our progress. As President, I will encourage high school graduation requirements and exams, and support voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and in 8th grade math, to make sure every student masters the basics. That way, parents will know their children are making progress - and they can compare how their children are doing with other children all across the country" - Al Gore.

  • National mobilization to make sure students have the foundation for success. Al Gore is calling for a national mobilization of school systems, businesses, foundations, parents and teachers to ensure that students have the skills needed for success in college or the workforce by the time they graduate from high school. Gore's plan would provide every participating state with extra resources for smaller classes and schools, more rigorous courses with well-trained teachers and measures to ensure that all students have the preparation they need. Participating states would be required to develop a plan for ensuring that all students, especially disadvantaged students, are prepared to graduate from high school and providing the opportunity to take Advanced Placement and honors courses to every qualified student.
  • Require states to test student achievement. Under the Gore plan, states will be required to test all public school students in reading and math at least three times between 3rd grade and graduation – once in each of grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12.
  • Encouraging high school exit exams and other measures to make certain that no student graduates with a diploma they cannot read. Gore's plan would encourage every state to establish high school graduation requirements that include tests and other measures to make sure that our high school students master reading and math at a high school level.
  • Holding states and school systems accountable for reducing the dropout rate. States would also develop aggressive strategies to ensure progress in reducing the dropout rate, and bonuses would be given to school districts and schools that make significant progress in reducing the dropout rate.
  • Voluntary national tests. Gore also reiterated his call for voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math to make certain every student masters the basics. These tests will help parents hold schools accountable for their child's performance against a national standard and ensure that students are prepared for a future outside the borders of their school district or state.

5. Insist on Consequences for Failure and Rewards for Success.

"If I'm entrusted with the Presidency, the nation's school authorities will also be on notice. We will provide clear financial incentives for states and school districts that successfully narrow the achievement gap - and there will be clear financial consequences for those that don't" - Al Gore

Consequences for Failure

  • Withdrawing administrative funding from states failing to boost achievement and close the achievement gap. Gore's plan would use nationally recognized measures to hold states and school districts accountable for improving student performance by converting significant federal education programs into achievement-based funds, with clear financial incentives for success and clear financial consequences for failure. States failing to meet their targets for improving student performance and substantially closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers based on performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress would lose some federal administrative funds under formula programs including Title I. These funds would be used instead to support local efforts to turn around low-performing schools by investing in proven reforms through the Accountability Fund.
  • Measuring progress based on the respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card. Progress by states will be measured by student performance on NAEP, or the Nation's Report Card. NAEP is a nationally recognized test administered by the independent, non-partisan National Assessment Governing Board. Unlike state tests, which vary widely in rigor and content, NAEP measures student achievement against national benchmarks. Most states currently participate in NAEP tests. Progress will be measured by improved performance in reading and math in 4th, 8th, and 12th grades, based on overall student gains as well as substantially narrowing the gap on these scores between minority and low-income children and their peers. Gore's accountability plan relies on NAEP to measure state progress in order to ensure that states are being held accountable for educating America's children to common high standards in reading and math. States would be given until 2004 to participate in NAEP or to develop measures to equate results on state test scores with NAEP standards. Under Gore's plan, NAEP tests would be given every two years.
Rewarding Success
  • Bonuses for States. Gore's plan would provide bonuses to states that demonstrate significant progress in boosting overall student achievement and closing the achievement gap, based on reading and math NAEP scores in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade. Al Gore believes that every state can and must make this kind of progress by investing in what works, sanctioning failure and rewarding success.
  • Bonuses for schools and teachers. Gore's plan would also provide bonuses to schools that are successfully closing the achievement gap while raising the achievement of all students. This would offer financial rewards to teachers in the schools having the most success improving education for disadvantaged children.

6. Ensure Safe, Disciplined Schools and Help Families Instill our Best American Values.

"We need a renewed focus on discipline, character, the right values and safety - and we need more parental involvement in our schools."- Al Gore

Al Gore believes that our schools should reflect and support the best values that parents want to teach their children. As President, he will help schools:

  • Strengthen Character Education. Al Gore strongly believes in the importance of character education in our schools. Building on the Administration's initiatives to support character education, Gore has pledged to intensify civic and character education in our schools - making it easier for parents to pass on their values such as honesty, integrity, hard work and cooperation. Gore also recognizes the role of faith-based organizations in our public life, and is committed to encouraging private support for these vital institutions and working with them to achieve our common goals.
  • Enforce Strict Discipline while Serving Troubled Students. Al Gore would help schools and districts create safer schools and better learning environments by offering competitive grants to school districts that enforce zero-tolerance policies for guns, enforce fair and firm discipline policies, and provide alternative educational settings for children expelled from school. The grants would provide funding for school districts to create "second chance schools" where kids expelled from school, and those headed for trouble could get the intensive help and services they need to succeed.
  • Promote Volunteer Participation. Millions of Americans have discovered that community service - such as helping the truly needy, aging or disabled, cleaning-up public parks, building homes for those without them, or mentoring younger students - is one of the most rewarding and educational experiences in their lives. As human beings, we derive meaning partly through interaction with others in our communities. As President, Gore will encourage community service by Americans of all ages, building on the success of the Administration's AmeriCorps program which has helped more than 100,000 young people serve the community while earning money for college, repaying student loans, or getting important skills training.

INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN - THE EDUCATION REFORM TRUST FUND

Public education for all remains a cornerstone of our democracy - our greatest tool to instill hope, fight poverty and eliminate intolerance. If we want to make sure no child gets left behind, we must act decisively to fulfill that promise for all of our children.

Al Gore believes if we are going to truly reform our schools, we need to give all of our children, teachers, and schools the extra help they need to succeed. He is proposing a $115 billion Education Reform Trust Fund to ensure that the nation's budget surpluses are used partly to make essential investments in our children's future. These include making high-quality preschool universally available; boosting teacher quality; ensuring smaller schools and smaller classes; building and modernizing public schools; and expanding high-quality after-school programs. Al Gore believes in demanding accountability for results. But he also recognizes that we cannot expect our students, our teachers and our schools to achieve high standards unless we invest more in the tools they need to succeed.

Ensuring a Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom

"Let me begin with a simple pledge. If I'm entrusted with the presidency, I will ensure that there is a fully qualified, well-trained teacher in every single classroom, everywhere in this nation, before the next four years is out." - Al Gore [Speech to Michigan Education Association, May 5, 2000]>

Al Gore has proposed a comprehensive teacher quality plan to ensure a qualified teacher in every classroom. Gore's education plan will attract one million new teachers, provide high-quality professional development, and provide bonuses to teachers pay in exchange for higher standards and greater accountability in teaching.

Gore would: 1) require states by the year 2004 to make sure teachers are fully qualified to teach their subject area; 2) require states to test all new teachers; 3) recruit one million talented new teachers through college aid, loan forgiveness, and signing bonuses; 4) provide high-quality professional development to help all teachers instruct students well in core academic subjects; 5) provide bonuses to teachers in communities that adopt aggressive plans to boost teacher quality and teacher standards; and 6) reward outstanding teachers, quickly improve or remove low-performing teachers, and empower individual schools to hire their staff based on expertise rather than just seniority. Gore believes that no teaching license or contract should provide a lifetime job guarantee, but that we should give all of our teachers the support they need to succeed.

Our nation's schools will need to hire two million teachers over the next ten years to address growing student enrollments and imminent retirements from an aging teaching force. Building on his plans to hold states and schools more accountable, Gore's teacher quality plan will make these investments:

  • Recruit One Million Talented New Teachers: Gore's plan would invest $8 billion over ten years in a new 21st Century Teacher Corps to aggressively recruit new teachers. Gore's plan will provide up to $10,000 in college aid for 560,000 young people who commit to teach in high need schools after college, and up to $10,000 in signing bonuses for 140,000 professionals who switch careers to teach, and will ensure loan forgiveness for 300,000 students that agree to teach in high-need schools and shortage subject areas like math and science. Local partnerships involving school districts and non-profit organizations would receive federal grants to design and administer local chapters of the national teacher corps and ensure that new teachers receive training and support needed to make a successful transition into teaching. Gore's plan calls for a nationwide effort to help states, communities, and schools attract outstanding people into teaching.
  • Boost Teacher Pay in Exchange for Raising Teacher Standards: Gore's plan would invest an additional $8 billion over ten years to provide salary increases to teachers in communities where school districts, businesses, and teachers unions adopt aggressive plans to boost teacher quality and raise teacher standards. All qualified teachers in these districts would receive salary increases of up to $5,000 and salary increases of up to $10,000 would be provided to outstanding master teachers reaching an advanced professional standard. When fully phased-in, this would boost salaries and teacher quality in communities across the nation, including most of our nation's high-poverty school districts. To qualify for funding, communities would need aggressive strategies to recruit new teachers, provide mentors and other support to help new teachers succeed, offer high-quality professional development and institute regular, rigorous peer evaluations of all teachers. Participating districts would also ensure fast, fair ways to identify, improve or remove low-performing teachers and set clear, high standards that make it tougher for new teachers to get licensed or tenured in the first place.
  • Reward Good Teachers: In many districts, tenure is almost automatic for teachers who make it through their provisional teaching period, without serious consideration of standards, skills, or performance. In districts participating in Gore's higher standards/higher pay initiative, decisions to grant teachers tenure would be based on a thorough evaluation of each teacher's performance, including but not limited to an analysis of the academic progress of a teacher's students. Districts could also provide rewards to all teachers and employees in a school that meets agreed-on performance goals that include improved student achievement, and work with teachers and administrators to develop new ways to reward teachers based partly on fairly measured gains on student performance. Districts could develop plans to pay teachers more for taking on additional responsibilities, or learning additional skills. This would help move districts away from the tradition of providing financial rewards simply based on years of experience rather than performance, skill, and role.
  • Invest in High-Quality Professional Development: Reducing class size and setting high standards for teachers will only improve teaching and learning if teachers receive the preparation, support, and ongoing training they need to improve classroom practice. Gore also is calling for a major investment in sustained, high-quality professional development to make sure that teachers are qualified and up-to-date in key skills (including the effective use of technology), can spend time during the school day observing and learning from other teachers, can teach students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency, and can get the extra help in targeted core academic subjects where students need improvement such as reading or math. Gore's plan will require states to ensure that all teachers hired under his class size initiative are fully qualified, and his plan will enable states and school districts to use some funding in the first four years of this initiative for teacher quality and professional development in order to meet that requirement.

21st Century Education, 21st Century Classrooms

"When teachers and principals must practice crowd control, it becomes impossible to spot the early warning signs of violence, depression or academic failure - and it becomes even harder to do something about it." - Al Gore

With the largest generation in American history moving through our schools - even larger than the Baby Boom - we face a special need to alleviate overcrowded classrooms, to give all children modern learning tools, and to wire all our schools to the Internet.

  • Rebuilding Crumbling Schools: Al Gore knows we cannot lift up our children in schools that are falling down. For students to learn, schools must be well-equipped and have rooms to accommodate smaller class sizes. In 1998, the American Society of Civil Engineers said that school buildings represent the nation's most pressing infrastructure need. To address this critical need, Al Gore will fight to pass the Administration's school construction initiative. This proposal would provide federal tax credits and other financial support as incentives to help states and local school districts build and renovate more than 6,000 public schools across the country.
  • Smaller Class Sizes: As Vice President, Al Gore helped win from Congress a down payment toward 100,000 new highly-trained teachers, to reduce class sizes to a national average of 18 in the early grades, where children learn to read and master the basics. As President, he will finish that job, and go much farther. Gore believes that we should commit to reduce class sizes to no more than 20 students per class in all other grades.
  • Small, Safe, and Successful High Schools: Not only do smaller schools offer students more personal attention, research shows that small schools can offer a strong core curriculum and a level of academically advanced courses comparable to large schools. Small schools also have better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems. Al Gore envisions a new American high school with smaller classes, smaller schools, a challenging curriculum, and more individual attention to help our teenagers get on the right track and make our schools better and safer for them. Under the Gore plan, grants would be made to schools or districts that have a strategy to build new, small high schools -- less than 600 students - or break up existing schools in innovative ways, including autonomous schools-within-schools, career academies, charter schools, or smaller classes. School districts receiving funding will also develop strategies to hold all students to high standards, including providing qualified students in every high school with the opportunity to take Advanced Placement and honors courses. Funding would allow states to make grants to local school districts through a targeted competitive process.
  • Wiring Every Classroom and Library to the Internet: Al Gore is working toward a 21st century where textbooks are never out-of-date, and where every child can reach across a computer keyboard and read any book ever written, see any painting ever painted, and hear any symphony ever composed. With an increasing number of jobs in America requiring advanced technological skills, Gore knows this a vital national economic issue. As a recognized leader in educational technology - offering early Congressional legislation to promote educational software - he has also led the Administration's effort to connect every classroom and library in the United States to the Internet. He fought for the passage of the discounted "e-rate" to make Internet access affordable for every school and library in the nation.
  • Al Gore has called for clear, national goals to close the digital divide and make America the pioneer in universal computer literacy. Gore's plan focuses on ensuring every American has the ABC's of the Internet: Access, Basic skills, and high-quality Content. As President, Gore will:

    • Finish connecting every classroom and library to the Internet during his first term.
    • Undertake a new national effort to provide basic skills in new technology, including a major initiative to achieve computer literacy for every child by the end of the eighth grade. He would expand teacher training in effectively using the Internet in the classroom, and deploy AmeriCorps national service corps members to teach and promote the Internet in schools, libraries and technology centers that need them the most.
    • Make the best educational software available to every school.

Expanding After-School

"We will increase our commitment to after-school -- so children have a safe place to learn in those afternoon hours when most juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use occur." - Al Gore

With families working more than ever before, parents need peace of mind that their children have a safe educational place to be in the after-school hours. Al Gore believes that we must work to support parents to help them meet the needs of their children while working to ensure responsibility. As part of his families agenda, Gore has proposed a comprehensive plan to provide children across the country with high quality after-school programs, and give parents the ability to choose the right after-school program to help their children meet high standards. Gore has challenged all public schools to stay open longer for safe, high quality after-school programs and unveiled a plan to help make this possible.

At least 5 million children are left at home after school unsupervised each week. Experts agree that school-age children who are unsupervised after school are far more likely to use alcohol, drugs and tobacco; commit crimes; receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who are involved in supervised, constructive, after-school activities. A recent Justice Department report stated that young people are at the greatest risk to be victims of violence during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m., suggesting more must be done to help working families balance the competing demands of work and family by providing a safe place for young people. Also, with students asked to meet higher standards than ever before, communities should use out-of-school time for the extra help students need to succeed.

Al Gore's plan would: 1) expand 21st Century Learning Centers to provide 5 million children high quality after-school programs so every child can meet high standards; 2) provide a new After-School Tax Credit to help the parents of 5 million more young people pay for quality programs; 3) challenge every school to stay open late and help them do so by modernizing school buildings and equipping them for after-school programs; and 4) raise the quality of after-school programs across the country. Together, these policies would help give every child who needs it more time for learning and less time for trouble.

  • Expand 21st Century Learning Centers to Provide Five Million Children High Quality After-School Programs so Every Child Can Meet High Standards: The Gore plan would dramatically increase funding for 21st Century Learning Centers, an innovative after-school program that he has championed as Vice President. This initiative enables communities to provide after-school and summer school to five million young people and gives students extra help to meet high standards and master the basics. The program currently serves about 850,000 children.

Under the Gore plan, every child in a failing school will get extra after-school help while their school is getting turned around. This is a vital part of Gore's education reform plan to identify and turn around failing schools. Every participating after-school program would have to demonstrate that it is using proven methods to help children read and master the basics. States would also ensure that there are statewide standards in place for after-school programs. Schools would form partnerships with local community-based organizations to make use of the school building while drawing on the resources and organizations in the community. Schools would work with parents to choose or develop after-school programs for their school.

  • Give Parents a New After-School Tax Credit: Al Gore will help working families across America pay for the after-school programs of their choice through a new refundable After-School Tax Credit (ASTC) for children age 16 and under. This credit will build on the existing Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which is non-refundable and limited to children under 13. Young teenagers, who are unsupervised, are at the highest risk for getting into trouble with alcohol, drugs, crime and self-destructive behaviors. This new credit will help the parents of five million young people ages 13 to 16 pay for quality after-school. The ASTC would provide a tax credit of up to 50 percent (depending on income) of the cost of after-school programs.
  • Challenge Every School to Stay Open Late, and Help Equip Them to Do So: Al Gore will challenge every school to extend its hours to make room for an after-school program. Too often, public school buildings don't offer enough appropriate space for after-school programs. Gore's plan would require states to establish one system of clear facility standards for school buildings during the school day and after school. It would give schools not meeting these standards top priority for his previously proposed school modernization plan. These funds could be used by school districts to make minor repairs and modification of school space to enable appropriate use of the school building during after school hours.
  • Assure High Quality As America Builds A New System of After-School Programs: After-School Quality Fund. In order to recruit and train qualified staff for after-school programs, states receiving federal funding would make available professional development and training to after-school staff. Gore's plan would set aside funding to help states make available training focused on key skills such as teaching reading, youth development, and properly mentoring children. Additional support would be available from Al Gore's higher standards/higher pay initiative that allows school districts to pay teachers additional pay in exchange for additional time after school and in summers. In addition, Gore's plan includes funding to help after-school and mentoring programs with proven track records such as the YMCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or special reading or arts programs to scale up, expand the number of sites, and support the development of more high-quality after-school programs.
  • Make Innovative Use of Distance Learning After-School: Gore's plan offers high quality after-school activities like technology training and foreign languages through distance learning. This plan would make it possible for students to get extra enrichment in areas where it is hard to find enough qualified teachers and high quality programs. Local schools or community centers would provide instructors who could work with students, check student's work, and lead discussions as students get high-quality instructional content through the Internet.

Helping States and Communities Educate Children with Disabilities

"This nation should be proud that we have opened the doors of public schools to millions of children with disabilities. We must continue to remain committed to providing quality education to all of our children - including those with disabilities." - Al Gore

America's legal and moral commitment to providing a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities has opened the doors of public schools to millions of students over the past two decades. Al Gore believes that we must substantially increase the federal investment to support states and school districts in guaranteeing this essential right, while ensuring adequate support to help all children get a high-quality education. While enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975 authorized federal funding to help states uphold this commitment, the federal government still pays only around 12 percent of the costs. With rapidly rising costs in special education, the federal government must become a stronger partner to help states and school districts uphold this important obligation, while maintaining the investments needed to provide all of our children with a high-quality education.

Gore's education reform plan reaffirms and strengthens the nation's commitment to providing students with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education. As President, Gore will take the following steps to ensure that schools get the support they need to provide quality special education services while also investing in the needs of all children:

  • Ensure that the federal government helps local school districts by paying its fair share of special education costs: Al Gore has pledged that his first budget would include the largest-ever federal increase in funding for IDEA - an important down payment toward the federal government's goal of paying its fair share - and that he would veto any spending plan that does not include funding to help communities provide a quality public education to all children, including those with disabilities. Gore emphasized that we must do this while being fiscally responsible and increasing - rather than shortchanging - other education investments like class size and after school programs.
  • Defray local school district expenses to educate students with very high-cost special needs: Gore has pledged to work with states to establish or expand funding pools under the IDEA that would be managed by the states. School districts could apply to these pools for extra funds to help them cover the costs of educating the relatively few children with disabilities requiring extraordinarily expensive services.
  • Fund early identification and intervention efforts: Al Gore has proposed an early identification and intervention fund that would reduce the long term costs of special education by helping school districts adopt proven methods of identifying and assisting children with reading or behavioral problems in kindergarten or 1st grade. Coupled with the universally available preschool and smaller class sizes the Vice President has proposed, this plan will help teachers give students the help they need to succeed early on, and avoid referring them for unnecessary special education services later.
  • Support teacher training to help all teachers learn how to effectively meet the needs of children with disabilities: A very high percentage of students with disabilities spend much of their day in regular classrooms, and training both special education and regular teachers to address the needs of these students will ensure a better education for all our children.

Al Gore also remains committed to helping communities make full use of the 1997 IDEA reauthorization to reduce unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy, while fully addressing the educational needs of children with disabilities.

HIGHER EDUCATION AND LIFE-LONG LEARNING

"Education must become not just a period in our lives but a way of life in the 21st Century." - Al Gore

In an economy where what you earn increasingly depends on what you learn, college and lifelong learning have become more important than ever. Al Gore believes that everyone who is willing to work for it must have the chance to go to college.

The Clinton-Gore Administration has successfully fought for the largest increased investment to expand access to higher education since the G.I. Bill. Vice President Gore and the Administration helped to make the first two years of college affordable to every qualified young person with the HOPE Scholarships, and made further education more affordable through Lifelong Learning Tax Credits. They increased Pell Grants by 52% and decreased interest rates on college loans. They took steps to lower the cost of repaying students loans. They created the Direct Student Loan Program, which has made student loans easier to access, while saving taxpayers over $4 billion. And they fought to defend these crucial priorities when some in Congress tried to block or cut them. Moreover, the Administration provided direct support to community colleges to help them offer high-quality education and training to recent high school graduates as well as adults seeking technical and scientific training. As President, Al Gore will build on and expand these successful programs. He will also:

  • Making College More Affordable
    • College Opportunity Tax Cut: While higher education has become ever more important for employability, salary level and job satisfaction, it has also become more and more expensive. Al Gore supports the Administration's proposed College Opportunity Tax Cut, which would provide a choice between a tax deduction or a 28 percent tax credit on up to $10,000 in tuition in order to make college, graduate school, and courses taken for a job more affordable.
    • Help Families Save Tax-Free for Higher Education: Al Gore believes we must also help more families meet the costs of college tomorrow by saving today. Gore has proposed new 401(j) accounts that allow individuals and their employers to put money away to save for job training, education and lifelong learning for themselves or their family, and let those savings grow tax-free.
    • Keep College Costs Down: Since college costs are currently rising faster than the general rate of inflation, inflationary pressures are a major barrier to access to higher education. That is why Gore has proposed a National Tuition Savings plan to allow families to save for their children's college education inflation-free and tax-free. The program will link together existing statewide college savings and prepaid tuition plans, many of which let families invest their money in special accounts, which grow tax-free and/or inflation-free. Al Gore believes we should increase access to these programs, allow every parent's savings to be used in any participating state, and use incentives to encourage states that do not have the programs to create them.
  • Expand Opportunities for Lifelong Learning and Worker Training
  • To keep up with a fast-moving, fast-changing economy, workers must have the ability to continue learning and upgrading their skills for a lifetime. That is why Al Gore has focused on the next great frontier in American education: dramatically expanding opportunities for lifelong learning and worker training. Today, many of the most crucial industries are facing shortages of the skilled workers they need. At the same time, adults with higher levels of education earn more, have greater job security, are less likely to be unemployed, and are more likely to find reemployment quickly if they are displaced. Gore believes that in the 21st century, lifelong learning should be as affordable and routine as buying a new appliance or financing a car.

    To make sure that individuals can reach their potential in the 21st century, Al Gore is working toward the day when every American has the opportunity to continue learning for a lifetime and can obtain the skills they need to succeed. Gore has announced a lifelong learning and worker training initiative that includes:

  • Encouraging Employers to Provide Training
    • Creating New Learning Opportunities for America's Workers. To make it easier for firms to upgrade the skills of their workers or for firms to move into a community with a labor force that has the necessary skill, Gore has proposed matching grants assistance to states to help develop worker skills. These competitive grants would be offered to communities who develop a plan to partner with local workforce boards, industry, and labor groups as well as Regional Skill Alliances to develop meaningful, accredited learning opportunities for workers to meet the skills needed in their communities. This would help employers who want to expand their technology and assure workers have the training they need.
    • Expanding the Availability of Support for Dislocated Workers to Continue Training. Under current law, only workers who are eligible for trade adjustment assistance automatically receive benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. Gore has proposed providing matching challenge grants to states that provide a training allowance to all unemployed workers in approved training programs. Under this proposal, the Federal government would match states that choose to give unemployed workers an additional 13 weeks of training allowance benefits if it is necessary to complete their training.
    • Providing a Tax Credit of up to $6,000 for Employers Who Provide Worker Training. To make it easier for working Americans to succeed in the new economy, Gore's plan would offer employers up to a $6,000 tax credit per employee for worker training in information technology and other technology skills. The credits would be limited to programs accredited by a local workforce board and would be targeted to frontline workers.
  • Making Lifelong Learning More Affordable
  • Gore's plan to make college more affordable will also help Americans afford the education and training they need throughout their lifetime.

    • Making Tuition Tax Deductible. The Administration's Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits have provided an estimated $3.5 billion in tax relief for 4.8 million families. Gore's proposed College Opportunity Tax Cut would build on these efforts by making $10,000 of tuition and fees for post-secondary education and training tax deductible.
    • Helping Workers Save for Life-Long Learning Through 401(j) Accounts. Gore's plan would create new 401(j) accounts so that employers can help employees save tax free for lifelong learning for the employee and his or her spouse.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

Public education is the cornerstone of our nation's democracy and the basis of our prosperity. In order to participate fully in our democracy and protect and freely exercise their rights, our citizens must be able to read well, speak clearly, think analytically, and solve problems creatively. In order to continue the technological progress that promises to make our lives healthier, more prosperous and culturally richer, our people must excel at the complex math and science that make innovation possible. And in order to lead in an increasingly global and complex economy, our businessmen and women must have the analytical, financial and language skills necessary to succeed.

Today, the challenge of education is more important than ever. First, family life in America is changing. Parents are working harder, and more households are single-parent families. That means parents have less time to spend with their children - less time to teach basic skills and values. Family and faith must be the primary answer. But our schools can be an important part of the solution - making it easier to raise safe and strong families.

Second, we are in the early stages of an accelerating information revolution that is completely transforming the nature of work. The new economy requires that all our young people - not just a few - reach high levels of education and skills. Already, two in five manufacturing companies say they can't expand because their workers don't have the right training. Education reform is the key to continuing and expanding our economic growth.

Third, the needs of our schools are growing dramatically. Al Gore is a part of the Baby Boom - until now, the largest generation in American history. But last summer, the Census Bureau reported that the number of young people moving through our schools surpassed the Baby Boom generation - and their numbers will continue to grow over the next ten years. Already, American students are crammed into overcrowded classrooms, teachers are overburdened, textbooks are out of date and in short supply, and facilities are falling down.

Education reform must be a national priority with national leadership. Today, America needs greater accountability and greater investments to make our schools the best in the world, not token efforts and symbolic initiatives. As President, Al Gore will demand more from our schools, teachers and students - and invest more to help them meet higher standards.

Recent Comments on Gore's Education Accountability Plan

  • Statement from Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), April 28, 2000. Calling for federal programs to focus on accountability for performance, Lieberman said, "The plan put forward by the Vice President today provides a bold strategy to help America meet this goal by creating a tough, comprehensive accountability system for federal education programs. It would give states and local districts considerable support to help lift up failing schools and raise academic achievement, but it would at the end of the day demand that our educators produce results. In doing so, it would take the groundbreaking step of applying fiscal sanctions to states that are not showing real progress in improving student performance."
  • The DLC News, May 8, 2000. "Last week, Gore leapfrogged Bush on education in a speech that represented the campaign's first comprehensive effort to link more investment in schools with greater accountability for results, including public school choice. In a speech to the National Conference of Black Mayors, Gore got the message exactly right...Gore did far more than pay lip service to accountability. He reiterated his support for tough national standards and testing (including exit testing for high school seniors). He endorsed mandatory shutdowns for consistently underperforming schools. He called for removal of low-performing teachers and principals. And he pledged to make narrowing the "achievement gap" between high- and low-performing schools and school districts a tangible national goal and the linchpin for federal education funding. Furthermore, Gore recognized the importance of choice and competition in making public schools accountable to parents and taxpayers by calling for a tripling of the number of charter schools to more than 5,000 and for universal public school choice in the 100 lowest- performing school districts."
  • New York Times, April 28, 2000. "To put pressure on state officials to improve student achievement, [Gore] would withhold federal money from states that failed to raise average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. He would also hold back aid from states that did not reduce the gap in dropout rates between minority and non-minority students, and between low-income and middle-income students."
  • Washington Post, April 28, 2000. "Under Gore's plan, states would be required to set standards and identify failing schools. Those schools would immediately receive extra federal money for after-school help or students would be free to transfer to another public school. If the school is still lagging after one year, the state would be required to step in and revamp its curriculum. If after two years those efforts have failed, the school would be closed, then reopened under new leadership."
  • Morton Kondracke, Columnist: "According to a Department of Education analysis of Bush's speech, almost every standards and accountability proposal in it already is either in federal law or part of Clinton's agenda. ... If Republicans show signs of developing a compassionate conservative approach to choice, Democrats still have the edge on willingness to pay for educational improvements. Bush's speech contained not a hint that either the federal government or the states should be spending more to produce 'world class' schools -- even to help 'failing' schools improve." [Roll Call, 9/9/99]

Recent Comments on Gore's Teacher Quality Plan

  • Ramon Cortines, Interim Superintendent of the Los Angeles School District. Responding to Gore's speech, Ramon C. Cortines...said the proposal moves "in the right direction" for improving teacher quality. "I don't see it as federal interference," Cortines said. "These are the kinds of things legislatures are talking about, boards of education, mayors, as well as school people. I think he's been very smart: Instead of telling, I think he's listening." [Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2000.]
  • Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2000. Facing a skeptical audience of educators, Vice President Al Gore on Friday offered a $ 16-billion plan to hire 1 million new teachers over 10 years and boost instructor pay in return for higher standards. Taken together, his proposals would represent an enormous effort by the federal government to reshape the way localities recruit, hire, evaluate, advance and dismiss teachers. In particular, the Democratic presidential candidate is offering a combination of carrots and sticks to pressure the most-troubled major urban school districts into adopting a sweeping agenda to improve teacher quality, shift authority from central school boards to individual principals and more closely link educators' compensation to the academic performance of their students....

Gore's plan could face political resistance. His calls for changing the way teachers are evaluated could antagonize his allies in the teachers' unions--a threat apparent in the cool reception portions of his remarks received. At the same time, conservatives, though generally supportive of tougher standards for teachers, recoil from the idea of Washington forcing them on local communities. But the plan does tap into reform ideas that are gaining grass-roots strength around the country..."

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

GORE HAS WORKED TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION

  • Gore Has Worked to Reduce Class Sizes by Hiring Qualified, New Teachers. Al Gore and the Administration proposed a 100,000 New Teachers to reduce class sizes nationwide. The Administration won funding for a down payment on the plan that provided states with $1.2 billion in 1999 to hire 30,000 well-prepared teachers. The Administration also won $1.3 billion in 2000 to continue to implement the Administration’s goal. The Administration has proposed $1.75 for 2001, and Gore is now challenging Congress to finish the job by providing the funding needed to hire all 100,000 new teachers.
  • Gore Has Fought to Rebuild and Modernize 6,000 Schools Nationwide. Al Gore and the Administration introduced a proposal to build and modernize 6,000 schools nationwide as part of the fiscal year 2000 budget plan. In announcing this new proposal, Gore stated that we “…need to ensure that our children are learning 21st Century skills in 21st Century classrooms,” and that “no child should be forced to learn in a temporary trailer.” In 1998, Gore and the Administration introduced a plan to repair and rebuild over 5,000 public schools with $22 billion in public bonding authority.
  • Gore Supported Goals 2000 to Promote Standards and Accountability. In 1994, Al Gore and the Administration approved the Goals 2000 legislation, which established, for the first time, national educational goals for all schools and students. The Goals 2000 legislation also authorized $400 million in additional funding for schools, including funds for school safety programs. Since the inception of the program, 47 states and the District of Columbia and Peurto Rico have adopted comprehensive Goals 2000 plans.
    • Gore and the Administration Worked to Raise Standards for Students in Need. Gore and the Administration increased Title 1 funding to help 11 million low-income students. These students now benefit from higher expectations and more challenging curriculums which are geared to new, higher standards.
  • Gore and the Administration Have Supported Public Charter Schools. Al Gore and the Administration have overseen tremendous growth in the number and variety of charter schools nationwide. In 2000, they secured more than $137 million for public charter schools, and they have proposed $175 million for 2001. Due in part to this Administration’s support, there are now over 1,700 charter schools. In 1992, there was only one operational charter school nationwide.
  • Gore Supported Education Reforms and Fought for Public Schools as a Member of Congress. As a Congressman and a Senator, Al Gore supported a number of important education reform measures that strengthened public education. He cosponsored the Neighborhood Schools Improvement Act and the Star Schools program, which has helped schools set up telecommunications networks for distance learning classes. Gore also opposed an educational voucher proposal that would have undermined public education.
  • Gore Cosponsored Legislation Creating the Department of Education. As a Representative in the U.S. House, Al Gore fought to ensure that education received the attention and support it needed from the federal government. Gore was an original cosponsor of the 1979 bill that created the U.S. Department of Education. The bill also provided funding increases for the department based on inflation.
    • Gore Was an Early Advocate for an Independent Department of Education. In 1977, Gore argued for a Department of Education. He said, “We all know why there is a need for a separate Department of Education in the federal government. It is important to insure that education gets the attention and the support it deserves at the highest levels of government.”
  • Gore Led Efforts to Expand Parental Involvement in Education. Each year since 1992, Al and Tipper Gore lead a Family Re-Union Conference to address issues confronting working American families. They led the 1997 conference with the goal of promoting a family-oriented approach to education. At the conference, Al Gore announced a new technology developed cooperatively by Silicon Valley and educators that will allow parents to be more active participants in children’s education by, for example, allowing parents to view children’s grades through the Internet or television. The conference led to the Partnership to Expand Parental Involvement in Education - a unique, national effort spearheaded by academic institutions, U.S. Department of Education, and the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education.

GORE HAS PROMOTED OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN

  • Gore and the Administration Increased Funding for Head Start. Since 1993, Al Gore and the Administration have nearly doubled funding for Head Start - increasing funding by 90 percent since 1993. Nearly 900,000 children are in Head Start today, and the Administration’s fiscal year 2001 budget builds upon this effort by increasing Head Start funding by $1 billion - the largest funding increase ever proposed for the program.
    • Administration Has Shifted the Focus of Head Start to School Readiness and Family Literacy. In 1998, Al Gore and the Administration enacted bipartisan legislation to focus Head Start on school readiness and family literacy. Currently, Head Start offers early education, health and nutrition and social services to more than 840,000 needy children. This legislation includes revised standards for Head Start programs that emphasize getting children ready to learn how to read. According to a Boston Globe editorial, “Head Start is a proven success.”
  • Gore and the Administration Have Helped Low-Income Families Afford Child Care. Al Gore and the Administration have fought for expansions in the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in order to help low-income families access quality child care. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget calls for an $817 million increase in the program. These new funds, in conjunction with child care funds provided in welfare reform, will allow the program to help over 2.2 million children obtain child care - an increase of 120% over the one million children the program supported in 1997.

GORE FOUGHT FOR ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION AND LIFETIME LEARNING

  • Gore and the Administration Made the Largest Single Investment in Higher Education in 30 Years. Al Gore and the Administration proposed and won funding for the HOPE scholarship tax credit program as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. HOPE scholarships assist nearly 7 million students by providing a $1,500 tax credit to help make the first two years of college universally accessible for all Americans. The 1997 Act included other tax deductions that collectively made it the largest single investment in education in 30 years.
  • Gore Fought for Pell Grant Funding and Work Study to Expand Access to Higher Education. Al Gore and the Administration secured historic increase in the Pell Grant program in 1997 and expanded the Work Study program to include nearly 1 million students in 2000. Pell Grants helped nearly 4 million low- and moderate-income students attend college in 1998. Al Gore has been a consistent protector of the Pell Grant program - as a U.S. Senator, Gore opposed cuts in Pell Grant funding.
  • Gore Improved Access to Lifetime Learning Opportunities. Al Gore and the Administration, as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement, approved a Lifetime Learning Tax Credit that will assist students and workers pay for education expenses after the first two years of college. As a result of this tax credit, more than 7 million students will be able to deduct up to $5,000 in tuition or other educational expenses. In addition, Gore announced a new proposal last year that would, if enacted, provide tax credits for companies that have literacy programs in the workplace.
  • Gore Cast the Deciding Vote to Create the Direct Student Loan Program. Al Gore cast the deciding vote for the Administration’s 1993 economic proposal, which created the Direct Student Loan Program. This program has helped simplify the college loan process by allowing student to apply for loans directly to the federal government.
  • Gore Fought Against Republican Cuts in Student Aid. In 1995, Al Gore fought Republican efforts to reduce important investments in education. Gore opposed Republican cuts that would have slashed funding for student loan programs by more than $10 billion.

GORE WORKED TO MAKE SCHOOLS SAFER

  • Gore and the Administration Put More Police Officers in Schools to Help Decrease School Violence. The Clinton-Gore Administration’s community policing grants have been used to fund more than 2,600 police officers to work in schools with serious crime problems. Under Al Gore and the Administration, school crime has decreased by more than one-third. In 1997, there were 102 school-related crimes per 1000 students - a 34% decrease from 155 school-related crimes per 1000 students in 1993.
  • Gore Has Promoted Safe, High Quality After-School Care Initiatives. Al Gore and the Administration have worked to expand the 21st Century Learning Centers program from a $1 million demonstration project in 1997 to a $453 million effort this year. This program now provides safe, quality after-school care for 850,000 students nationwide. As part of their fiscal year 2001 budget proposal, the Administration proposed increasing funding for this program to $1 billion to make after-school and summer-school programs more accessible to Title 1 schools.
  • Gore Has Worked For Gun-Free and Drug-Free Schools. In 1994, Al Gore encouraged Congress to pass legislation that will help to get guns and drugs out of schools by expanding the Safe & Drug-Free Schools program. Forty million students benefit from this program which assists in drug prevention efforts in 97% of America’s school districts. This act included a requirement that all states receiving federal education funding implement a mandatory 1-year expulsion for any student who brings a gun to school. In addition, the Al Gore fought Republican efforts to slash funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools program, which has assisted anti-drug efforts in our nation’s schools.
    • The Gun-Free School Act is Working. Al Gore and the Administration fought to pass the Gun Free Schools Act, which requires the expulsion of students caught bringing firearms to schools. Nearly 10,000 students have been expelled fro brining a gun to school in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 school years.

GORE HAS PROMOTED TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM

  • Gore Led Efforts to Connect Every Classroom to the Internet. In 1994, Al Gore set a goal of connecting every classroom in the country to the Internet. In 1996, when only 3% of classrooms were connected to the Internet, Gore launched the E-Rate program to support classrooms across the country. This initiative helped provide computers, online connections, teacher training, and learning content to schools. More than 62,000 school districts and libraries applied for E-rate funds in the first two grant cycles, and today, 63% of classrooms, and 95% of schools, are connected to the internet. Gore has led efforts to expand federal investments in educational technology from $30 million a year to the $900 million the Administration is requesting in its fiscal year 2001 budget.
    • Gore Has Prioritized Federal Support for Schools in Poor Neighborhoods. In the first eighteen months of the program, more than 80,000 schools and libraries received $1.66 billion in funding - helping to connect 640,000 classrooms to the Internet. More than 53% of those schools and libraries receiving funding were in the poorest neighborhoods.
  • Gore Fought to Expand Access to Educational Technology. Al Gore has worked hard to bring advances in technology into the classroom to help prepare today’s students for the challenges of the next century. Investments in educational technology have increased thirty-fold under this Administration. In 1984, Gore introduced the National Educational Software Act, to establish the National Educational Software Corporation to provide venture capitol for educational software development. Gore also sponsored the National High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, which encouraged development of a National Research and Education Network to help link teachers, students, and researchers.

Source: Al Gore for President 2000 Web Site

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