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Home » 2016 EDlection Center » Candidate Profiles » The Candidates on Education Reform: Their Records & Rhetoric

The Candidates on Education Reform: Their Records & Rhetoric

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It’s fair to say some of the candidates for president & vice president have long, public records about nearly every aspect of education policy & education reform. Some, less so. And some candidates’ views have morphed over the years, changed, reversed, and even come back again.

Just what can we make of their statements & position papers, their sound bites & past actions? CER takes a look:

Clinton Kaine Trump Pence
After School/Summer Supports longer school days & longer school years, beginning with those who are poorest. Kaine’s Middle School Access Technical Education Act would allow afterschool programs to partner with CTE providers to teach students about career options. n/a Issued proclamation supporting “Lights on Afterschool” & highlighting Indiana’s commitment o quality afterschool programs.
Charter Schools Mixed: has supported in the past, then reversed, and has now come back to a nearly full-throated endorsement. The media reports he’s “no fan” of charters, and it’s noted Virginia has just nine charter schools. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.” Has expanded charters, & created a $50 million loan program for them, as well as allocating $500 per pupil for nonacademic expenses.


He passed laws ensuring charter accountability & Indiana is ranked #1 in that today.

School Choice Opposes vouchers. Believes they are unconstitutional, and believes money would go to schools that are “antithetical” to American values. Opposes vouchers, but passed a law allowing parents with a high school diploma to home school their children. “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice. “ Indiana’s is the most comprehensive. Pence pushed to lift the funding cap available per student and to add in middle-income students to the mix, and the program has grown to over 30,000 students statewide.
STEM/STEAM She has proposed increased investments to train computer science teachers, create new STEM opportunities in public schools, and doubling the $120 million federal funding in Innovation (i3). Argues for increasing arts & sciences education, and not rating them as electives but opening them to all to shine & grow as students. n/a n/a
College/Career Has promised to refocus & reframe how we talk about vocational education, and has suggested a tax credit for businesses participating in apprenticeship programs. Kaine actually pushed to use middle school as a time of career exploration.


Has argued to use military tuition benefits for career & technical skills, such as welding.


Co-founder, Senate Career & Technical Education Caucus

n/a Pence also focused on local regional councils and a state council for educators to better understand the key skills set companies look for in their area & then a state council to unify standards and needs.
Common Core Supports. “I have always supported national standards.” Supports Common Core, though Virginia has not accepted the standards. Opposes Common Core. Pulled Indiana out of Common Core & had a committee craft standards “for Hoosiers, by Hoosiers.”   The standards have met with criticism by anti-Common Core activists who claim they’re too close to what they supposedly repealed.
Disabilities/IDEA She has supported full funding (and increased funding) for the IDEA programs. “But I’m convinced that the most important reform has been under our noses since 1975, when legislation was passed to guarantee children with diagnosed disabilities receive individualized learning plans tailored to meet their specific needs.”


n/a Cosponsored the Helping Children Succeed by Fully Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
Early Childhood Need more of it, especially for poor or disadvantaged children. Kaine expanded pre-k nearly 40 percent as governor. In the Senate as proposed increases in early learning opportunities. He has talked “around” this issue, especially regarding quality child-care. Pence pushed, and personally lobbied for, pre-k expansion that was opposed by his own conservative allies.
Federal Role Supports an increased role, including new “Federal Education SWAT” teams to help public schools most in need. Supports full funding of NCLB. Has suggested the federal government provide a bonus to teachers achieving “national” certification. Wants to drastically cut the Department of Education. One of just 25 Republican members to vote no on George W. Bush’s signature education legislation, No Child Left Behind.
Innovation & Opportunity “Education is the ultimate innovation prerequisite.” Kaine believes options should abound for students in high school and a transcript should read more like a “personalized” resume. n/a Proposed a $300 million effort to create innovation in Indiana. One part of that plan was working with high schools to inspire innovation & entrepreneurship.
Teaching, Assessments, Evaluation Believes here is where the Federal government actually requires “too much” testing.

Says we need “better & fewer” tests.

Kaine believes there’s too much testing and we need to focus more “on learning.” “He has called for merit pay for teachers. Has also said that America spends more on education than most yet ranks below “25 countries” in educational outcomes. Supports merit pay, and has enacted a $30 million bonus program. Also supports revamping the state tests.