Senator John Edwards Unveils Plans for Education Reform

Summary of Edwards' Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Schools

  • Quality early childhood education will be available for every 4-year old in the country.
  • 1,000 schools will be built or expanded through an initiative known as 'Great Schools'.
  • Reforms will be launched at struggling schools.
  • The No Child Left Behind Act will be completely overhauled, with less emphasis on test scores and more focus on identifying and improving problems.
  • Teachers at poverty-stricken schools will receive a pay raise of up to $15,000 per year.
  • A 'West Point' for teachers will be created. Approximately 1,000 top college students will be recruited and trained at this National Teacher University each year.

Frustrated with primary education in the United States, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards rolled out his new plan for education reform today in Des Moines. During the speech, Edwards explained there are 'three simple pillars' to his plan: prepared children, excellent teachers, and outstanding schools.

'Every child deserves to have the same chances I had,' Edwards said. 'But today, millions of young people don't get these opportunities. More than a half-century after Brown v. Board of Education, we still have two school systems, separate and unequal. George Bush's No Child Left Behind law is not working, and Washington is simply not doing its part to invest in early childhood education, teachers, or support for struggling schools.'

Edwards has been a longtime critic of NCLB and the 'cheap standardized tests' students are required to take. However, he is not interested in abolishing the act altogether, but says he would prefer assessing students with other measures, such as oral examinations, open-ended essays, projects and experiments. The planned overhaul of NCLB also calls for more focus on identifying and improving problems in struggling schools.

If elected president, Edwards is also interested in drumming up funding for a universal preschool education program that will be available to every 4-year old child in the United States. Low-income families will receive tuition waivers for this voluntary program, and everyone else will pay based on a sliding scale.

The final pillar in Edwards' plan involves better pay and training for teachers, more principals to work in poor school districts, and the development and sharing of model curriculum.

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