- In 2001, McCain co-sponsored a bill that would give undocumented students access to higher education. According to the bill, students who finish high school and two years of college could become legal residents. Now, McCain supports legislation that would put an end to illegal immigration and citizenship loopholes.
- McCain has supported voucher programs in Washington, D.C., as well as an amendment giving $1.8 billion per year to another voucher program, paid for by doing away with subsidies for ethanol, oil, gas, and sugar.
- McCain has supported tax breaks for charter schools, and favors private tutoring over decreasing class sizes.
- McCain voted for No Child Left Behind, though he now says there are problems with it, mostly involving the testing of students with disabilities and non-English speaking students.
- McCain did not vote on the bill that would decrease interest on student loans and increase Pell Grants to $5,400 by 2012, though it is said he supports these ideas.
- Obama was not in office to vote for No Child Left Behind, but he has stated many times that he believes the program has failed.
- Obama co-sponsored legislation to increase Pell Grants to $5,400 by 2012 and decrease student loan interest rates to 3.4%. However, he missed the final vote.
- Obama has proposed bills to expand summer reading programs and his STEP UP program.
- Obama authored legislation to create Teacher Residency Programs that train teachers to work in high-need areas.
- In the Illinois State Senate, Obama helped create the Illinois Early Learning Council, which started the program Preschool for All.
McCain’s views differ from that of the National Education Association (NEA) on most issues. For example, McCain supports private school vouchers, opposes smaller class sizes, opposes increasing federal education funding, opposes education employees’ rights to organize, and opposes protecting women from pay discrimination (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act). The NEA takes the opposite stance on these issues, as does Barack Obama. Obama’s views on major education issues are greatly in line with those of the NEA. (See a comparison chart.)
Both candidates believe the following:
- Parents and teachers are the two most important factors in a child’s education.
- No Child Left Behind needs to be “fixed.”
- Higher education needs to be more affordable and attainable by simplifying the financial aid process and reforming lending programs.
- There is a great need for high-quality teachers, especially in underperforming school systems.
Whichever side you support and whichever issues concern you most, make your voice heard and VOTE.