Presidential Candidates’ Proposals to Increase High School Graduation Rates Evaluated by Alliance for Excellent Education
Both George Bush and John Kerry want to improve the nation’s public education system, and they currently have proposals before the public—and, in President Bush’s case, before the Congress—that merit serious consideration.
A new policy brief released today by the Alliance for Excellent Education compares the two candidates’ positions on education reform as it impacts America’s secondary schools and students. As the country faces the need for an increasingly skilled and educated workforce to remain internationally competitive and productive, it is critical that policymakers at all levels of government concentrate on high schools, a vital part of that equation.
The Alliance’s brief examines publicly available information on President Bush’s and Senator Kerry’s plans (as of April 21, 2004) by topic areas, including reading and math; teachers and principals; college preparation; the No Child Left Behind Act; federal funding; and school environment and facilities. The candidates’ proposals to improve literacy, increase college readiness and access, improve teacher and principal quality, and encourage teachers to work in high-needs schools are among those compared and analyzed. The Alliance will update the brief as new proposals are put forth.
American high schools are in crisis. Each school day, more than three thousand students drop out, and few of them ever return to the classroom to receive a regular diploma. The country’s high school graduation rate is an abysmal 68 percent; in many urban areas, only half of entering eighth graders will graduate “on time,” five years later. Of those who do graduate, 26 percent read at “below basic” levels, still barely able to comprehend the vocabulary or content of the material in their textbooks.
The President of the United States-regardless of his or her party affiliation-has a historic role to play in the process of assuring that effective, targeted programs are available to help our nation’s secondary school students to graduate from high school prepared for college and success in life. The Alliance for Excellent Education is pleased that both of this year’s presidential candidates are beginning to address this important issue. However, creating a new national partnership sufficient to help state and local school districts ensure that every child has the opportunity to graduate from high school, prepared for college will require vision, strong leadership, and the political will to transform American high schools into the training grounds that will prepare its graduates to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.org.