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Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Education

In this blog post, we explore the question: Where do the presidential candidates stand on education?


The race for the presidency is undeniably heating up, and there’s plenty of talk among the leading candidates of both parties about the economy, terrorism, immigration, and a host of other issues. Education has somewhat taken a back seat, but the major White House hopefuls do have positions on the subject.

As is typical with Democrats and Republicans, it basically comes down to a question of how much the federal government should be involved in educating the nation’s schoolchildren and how education funds should be spent. But there are plenty of related issues to go around as well.

In brief, here’s where the poll leaders stand:


Hillary Clinton: The former first lady, senator, and secretary of state promises “debt-free tuition” at public colleges along with establishment of “a $25 billion dollar fund specifically aimed at helping historically black colleges and universities.” She also favors legislation that would “require districts and states to take action to turn around struggling schools and expand resources for teacher development, early childhood education, and high-quality public charter schools.”

Bernie Sanders: Like Clinton, the Vermont senator and self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” advocates “free” education at public colleges and universities for all along with “high-quality, affordable early childhood education.” Other aspects of Sanders’ education platform include a reduction in student loan interest rates. He also believes that colleges and universities “should hire more faculty and increase their percentage of tenured and tenure-track professors.”


Donald Trump: The outspoken real estate mogul is an advocate of local control when it comes to education. He has branded the federal Common Core standards “a disaster” and called for cutting the Department of Education “way, way down.” “How long do we think the U.S. can survive schools that pretend to teach while our kids pretend to learn?” Trump asks. “How can a kid hope to build an American Dream when he hasn’t been taught how to spell the word ‘dream’?”

Ted Cruz: “We should repeal every word of Common Core,” says the Texas senator. “We should get the federal government out of the business of curriculum.” Cruz says education is far too important “to be controlled by unelected bureaucrats in Washington.” Rather, Cruz believes that education “needs to be at the state level or the local level where we as parents have direct control over the standards, over the mores, over the curriculum that is being taught to our kids.”

Marco Rubio: The Florida senator has pledged that on his first day in office, he would “issue an executive order directing federal agencies to stop any and all activity related to implementing or encouraging Common Core.” On higher education, Rubio has pledged to implement “automatic, income-based repayment” of student loans and reform the “outdated accreditation system to accommodate nontraditional education.” He is also a vocal advocate of vocational training.

Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor would consolidate the $22 billion in annual federal dollars spent on education via “44 disjointed programs” and allow states to deposit $2,500 annual scholarships for low-income children under 5 into newly created Education Savings Accounts, which would replace existing college savings plans. Once a supporter of Common Core, he now says he believes that learning standards should be generated at the local level. He also favors doubling support for charter schools.

John Kasich: The Ohio governor believes that education should be “local,” with no federal learning standards: “The teaching curricula, choice of textbooks, and lesson plans that local educators use are the responsibility of local school district …” He points to Ohio, where the number of school vouchers has been quadrupled and the number of schools with students eligible for vouchers increased. He would keep college costs down by encouraging students to earn college credit in high school.

-by Steve Eddy

Steve Eddy is a tutor, freelance writer and retired newspaperman.  He is an expert on current issues in education and regularly contributes to the Atlanta Tutors “Education Resources” blog.