K-12 Public Education

Q16: As we seek ways to improve K- 12 public education that result in greater student achievement, do you agree that there must be stronger accountability systems that extend beyond high stakes testing to evaluate student outcomes? If you agree, what is your plan to address this concern? If you disagree, why?

Clinton: “We all have a shared responsibility to ensure the success of our students, and that means we must focus on equity and excellence in public education. Strong accountability systems are a key part of that. That is why I was happy to see the House put its partisan interests aside and work together to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law is not perfect, but it puts us on a path to provide states and teachers flexibility to serve the needs of their students while also ensuring schools are held accountable to close achievement gaps—particularly for students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. In doing so, the bill retains our commitment to high academic standards, enables communities to strike a better balance on testing, and allows states to take a holistic approach when measuring school success. The bill also requires that states take action in our lowest performing schools, which I believe is crucial.

While I applaud the bipartisan effort, I am also mindful of the work that lies ahead. Effectively implementing this law will take commitment and cooperation—by our parents, teachers, schools and states. It will also require that the federal government continue to play its critical role in working towards an America where a world-class education is available to every child. Only then, will the Every Student Succeeds Act live up to the vital promise that its title bears..”

Bush:  Yes.

Carson: “Once again, we cannot allow programs to be our measure.  Our measure must be maximizing the talent and capacity of our children, youth and young adults.  We should also strengthen control of education at the local level, where educators and families know what’s best for the children in their area.”

 Q17: Would you agree that poverty and other socio-economic factors present daunting challenges that we must address as part of reforming K – 12 public education? If you agree, what is your plan to address these challenges?  If you disagree, why?

 Clinton: “The link between poverty and schools cannot be overlooked. Our public schools should offer every child a path to a better life. However, I believe strongly that we cannot expect our schools to solve all of the challenges children face when living in poverty. Teachers in particular cannot be expected— nor are they trained—to address challenges such as hunger and anxiety. Yet, it is often left to them to try. When my mother was in first grade her teacher saw that she never had anything to eat at lunch and finally realized she had no food. So her teacher brought extra food one day, and asked my mother, without embarrassing her, “Dorothy, I brought too much food today. Would you like some?” She fed my mother every day for the rest of that school year.

So this is not a new challenge, but it is a challenge that is getting worse. For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of our public school students come from low-income families. That is why I believe we must do more to raise incomes for hard working Americans, create more good paying jobs and lift families out of poverty.  And I also believe we must create partnerships between schools and communities to ensure that our children receive the supports they need to thrive in school. ”

 Sanders: Yes. “Poverty and other socio-economic factors must be addressed to make sure that all American children have the ability to reach their full potential. 22 percent of American children live in poverty and 21 percent of our children lack access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In the richest country in the world, it is appalling that 1 in every 5 children live in poverty and suffer from food insecurity. This is simply disgraceful.

“I have been a strong advocate for improving public education and addressing the socio-economic challenges that limit a child’s ability to succeed in school. I co-sponsored legislation to fully fund Head Start and supplemental food programs for women, infants and children, and I was a strong supporter of a national school breakfast for low-income children. As President, I will work to improve education and address the related socio-economic factors that demand action.”

Bush:  Yes.

Carson: “Poverty does present a challenge when addressing improving the academic prospects of our students.  There is a significant achievement gap that harms minority students. However, an even greater challenge is making sure that all students have access to the learning environment that works best for them.  This means providing families with school choice and access to other innovative means of bringing the best education to all students.”

Q18: Do you believe teacher preparation for K-12 educators is key to student success? If yes, what is your plan for supporting schools of education and school systems in preparing teachers for 21st century teaching and learning?

Clinton: “Throughout my career, from Arkansas, to the White House, to the Senate, I have worked to provide dedicated resources and support to teachers. Of all in-school factors that impact student achievement, nothing is more important than having a highly effective and supported teacher in the classroom. An effective teacher can spark a student’s love for learning and can significantly affect a student’s long- term life trajectory and career prospects. Indeed, research suggests that one year with a high-quality teacher will lead to an additional $50,000 in lifetime earnings for a student, or more than $1.4 million for an entire classroom.

Given the importance of the teaching profession, we face a decisive moment for education in America. Over the next decade, the United States is expected to need 1.5 million new teachers, with shortages expected in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, English language learning, and special education. Meanwhile, after leading the world in education for much of the twentieth century, the United States now ranks 27th among 34 OECD countries in math and 20th in science. I believe that to address these challenges, teachers are the key. That is why, as President, I will fight to modernize and elevate the teaching profession—by attracting the next generation of talented educators, ensuring those new to the profession are ready for year one, and promoting continuing advancement and development for all teachers. I believe that for the future success of our children and the future competitiveness of our economy, we must fight to lift up every child’s teacher.”


 Sanders: Yes. “Teacher preparation is vital for student success. In 2011, I introduced the Assuring Successful Students through Effective Teaching Act so that poor, minority, disabled, and limited English proficient students are taught by highly qualified and effective teachers at similar rates and ratios as other students. On average, black students attend schools with higher concentrations of first-year teachers, compared to white students. Black students are also three times more likely to attend schools where fewer than 60 percent of teachers meet all state certification and licensure requirements. That is not right. Teachers are a key aspect in ensuring all Americans have access to a quality education. As President, I would work to ensure that all students in the United States are taught by high qualified and effective teachers.”

Bush: Yes.

Carson: “Teachers have to be equipped to learn how to learn.  We talk about lifelong learning as a value of education, but we must also talk about lifelong skill development.  Our system must equip and empower teachers to grow and develop with changing instructional demands.  This means creating opportunities for advancement for teachers who excel.  It also means the ability to remove teachers who are not successful in the classroom, and reducing the harmful impact that teachers’ unions have had in preventing students from receiving the best possible teaching instruction in our public schools.”

Q19: Do you support Common Core Standards to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to succeed in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce prepared to succeed? If no, what is your plan?

Clinton:  “For many years, going back to my work to improve education in Arkansas – I have believed that states should voluntarily adopt a set of rigorous academic standards to ensure that all children have access to a curriculum that will prepare them for college and careers.  When states came together on Common Core, I thought that was a laudable effort.  But I also agree with parents that we can make common-sense improvements. So I support these standards, but I also think we can work together to find way to improve how they are implemented.”


Sanders: Yes. “As a Senator, I voted against a budget amendment that would have allowed states to opt-out of the Common Core Standards without facing a financial penalty from the federal government.”

Carson: “I do not support Common Core.  The best plan for student achievement is empowering parents and local communities to make the best decisions for their students.  This includes giving parents the option of school choice.”