Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on May 4, 2015.
Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, declared his candidacy for president last week. He’s also the subject of the fourth installment of the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling presidential candidates’ stances on education issues.
Sanders talks more about higher education than K–12 schooling. Aside from voting against an anti-Common Core amendment back in March, he hasn’t said anything about the controversial standards. And I couldn’t find any reference to school choice. Nevertheless, he hasn’t been silent:
1. Early childhood education: “We must do away with the archaic notion that education begins at four or five years old. For far too long, our society has undervalued the need for high-quality and widely accessible early childhood education.” February 2014.
2. Standardized testing: “Promote creative learning by doing away with 'fill-in-the-bubble' standardized tests, and instead evaluate students based their understanding of the curriculum and their ability to use it creatively.” May 2015.
3. Tests and accountability: “I think it is wrong to judge schools solely on the basis of narrow tests. We have to work on what kind of criteria we really need....A kid is more than a test. We want kids to be creative. We want kids to be critical thinkers. We also want schools held accountable for factors other than test scores, including how they meet the challenges of students from low-income families.” April 2015.
4. Teacher pay: “Something is very wrong when, last year, the top twenty-five hedge fund managers earned more than the combined income of 425,000 public school teachers. We have to get our priorities right.” February 2015.
5. Race to the Top: “It is unacceptable that nearly $5 billion of federal 'Race to the Top' funding has been distributed while Vermont and many other states have not received a penny.” June 2012.
6. Higher education accessibility: “Higher education should be a right.” April 2015.
7. Education and upward mobility: “In the United States, all people who have the desire and the ability should be able, in this changing economy, to receive all the education they need regardless of their income. This must be done not only to rebuild the disappearing middle class but to make us competitive in the global economy.” February 2015.
8. Colleges and universities: “We have to demand that college and universities use new technologies and make college much more affordable.” April 2015.
9. Student loans: “We must fundamentally restructure our student loan program. It makes no sense that students and their parents are forced to pay interest rates for higher education loans that are much higher than they pay for car loans or housing mortgages. We must also end the practice of the government making $127 billion over the next decade in profits from student loans.” February 2015.
10. Higher education funding: “If the federal government were to invest $18 billion a year, with a dollar-for-dollar match from state governments, we would slash college tuition in the United States by more than half....If we were to reduce the president’s proposed increase in military spending by less than half, and instead invest that money in educational opportunities for today’s college students, we could cut tuition by 55 percent. So I challenge all of you; ask yourselves, where should our priorities lie?” February 2015.
That’s it for Bernie Sanders. Republicans Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina just threw their hats in the ring, so they’ll get the Eduwatch treatment along with Rand Paul and anyone else who decides to join the race (e.g., Jeb Bush and Scott Walker). Until then.