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Joe Biden on Education

Democratic Sr Senator (DE); Vice President-Elect


No Child Left Behind was left behind

BIDEN: I hope we’ll get back to education because I don’t know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind is the money was left behind, we didn’t fund it.

PALIN: You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. We have got to increase the standards. No Child Left Behind was implemented. It’s not doing the job though. We need flexibility in No Child Left Behind. We need to put more of an emphasis on the profession of teaching. My kids as public school participants right now, it’s near and dear to my heart.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

Hire more teachers and pay them for smaller classes

You don’t need a doctorate to know there’s four things everybody out there knows we have to do. Every parent knows it intuitively. Got to start kids to school earlier, got to put them in smaller classes. In order to do that you need 100,000 more teachers, but you’ve got to pay teachers. The pay’s not competitive, and lastly you’ve got to provide access to college, and that costs money. And we can easily pay for it. It’s about our priorities.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

Laid out a $30 billion plan over five years for education

An excellent teacher should be judged by whether or not that teacher outside of the classroom improves themselves and their teaching skills. My wife got two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree. That’s merit pay. She went out and she gathered this additional knowledge, not just being a good teacher. Here’s the problem with simple merit pay, based on the principle. Who makes the decision, based on merit pay? There should be teaching excellence. We should demand more of our teachers in continuing education and participation after school and in school. But you’ve got to pay them. The idea you start teachers at $28,000, in most states, where, in the countries we’re competing with, they start off and they graduate their graduating seniors are getting the same pay that engineers are getting in those same schools. I’ve laid out a $30 billion plan over five years to 16 years of education is what our kids need. They need to start two years earlier and be guaranteed two years after school.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov 15, 2007

For longer school day & school year, & 16-year minimum

I proposed it in 1987. We should go to school longer. We should have a minimum 16 years of education. We should be focusing on the socioeconomic disadvantaged, mostly minorities in inner cities. That’s something we’ve ignored. We pay no attention to it. We pretend they’re the same circumstances as every other kid in America. They start off with half. Half of the education gap exists before they set foot in the first classroom. That should be the focus.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

$3000 tax credit for college for anyone earning under $150K

Q: Since education is a great equalizer, shouldn’t a college education be free?

A: Absolutely, positively, unequivocally. As president, that’s what I would push for. The idea that 12 years of public education is sufficient in the 21st century is ridiculous. I have a thing called a college access program. I would allow every single solitary family making up to $150,000 to be able to have a refundable tax credit of $3,000 per student. Everyone under $50,000 now qualifies for a Pell Grant. I would change them from $4,300 to $6,300 plus the refundable tax credit. It would mean every child in America, every qualified person in America, under an income under $50,000 would have $9,300 to go to any state university in their state in America for four years. But we have to change our mind-set here, and lead with early education, with pre-Head Start and Head Start. The whole Biden plan for starting early and college as well, that whole plan costs less than $18 billion a year.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

There needs to be performance-based pay for teachers

Q: What about merit pay for teachers?

A: The one thing any teacher can tell you is that the last person you want to judge your performance, is the administrator of the school. That’s the first thing everybody figures out if you teach. There needs to be performance-based pay. The way to do it is start at the front end. Pay those people who perform in undergraduate school. Give them the alternative to be able to go. They’d get the same pay as an engineer gets to go in and work as a math teacher, or as a science teacher. So you start performance-based pay by, in fact, paying the best- performing students who want to teach and give them a chance. Every other major country in the world is starting these students at the same salary as they start their engineers. We should be able to do that. My father used to say, “Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget.” If you, in fact, value education, then it should be equally as important as engineering or anything else.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Teach sex ed in schools; including prevention methods

Senator Biden supports comprehensive and age appropriate sex education that includes science based prevention methods.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire Aug 9, 2007

Sent kids to private school after death of their mother

Q: Do you send your kids to public school or private school?

A: My kids did go to private schools, because right after I got elected, my wife and daughter were killed. I had two sons who survived. My sister was the head of the history department. She was helping me raise my children at Wilmington Friends School. When it came time to go to high school when they had come through their difficulties--I’m a practicing Catholic--it was very important to me they go to a Catholic school.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Overcome racial achievement gap with early education

Q: In 2006 the unemployment rate of black high school graduates was 33% higher than the unemployment rate for white high school dropouts. To what do you attribute this inequity?

A: One of the things that we all talk about is this achievement gap. We should remind everybody that the day before a black child, a minority child, steps into the classroom, half the achievement gap already exists. The moment they walk into that school, they are already behind.

And that gap widens. And it widens because we do not start school earlier. We do not give single mothers in disadvantaged homes the opportunities that they need in order to know what to do to prepare their children.

You’ve got to start off and focus on the nurturing and education of children when they’re very young, particularly children from disadvantaged families. You’ve got to invest in starting kids in preschool at age four. And you’ve got to make sure you have smaller classrooms & better teachers in the disadvantaged schools.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Pay teachers more to get better educational results

Q: Compared to Japan, China & India, we have fewer young people getting science & engineering degrees. How are you going to reverse this brain drain?

A: Change the fundamental way we educate our children. There’s two things everyone knows: the smaller the class size, the better the outcome; and the better the teacher, the better the outcome. In those very nations named, a teacher makes as much as an engineer. If we want the best students in the world, we need the best teachers in the world.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

FactCheck: Japan pays teachers more, but not India & China

Biden may have made an overbroad claim about teacher pay. Asked why China, India & Japan have more students than the US pursuing degrees in science & engineering, he said: “In those very nations, a teacher makes as much as an engineer.” Perhaps that’s true, but his campaign couldn’t document it fully. Biden aides cited an article from a 2005 issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine saying, “In Japan, teacher salaries are comparable to those of engineers.” But the story makes no mention of China or India.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 South Carolina Democratic debate Apr 26, 2007

NCLB needs more resources, but also is fundamentally flawed

Q: What do you plan to do about No Child Left Behind? Do you believe that this issue is simply one of never having provided the resources to carry out the original mission of the program or are there other fundamental flaws inherent in a program with so much emphasis on teaching to the test?

A: Both. I sleep with a teacher every night -- my wife. She taught high school -- had three remedial classes and two advanced classes. Those kids in the remedial class went from sixth grade to 10th grade, and they were still penalized. Those kids in the advanced class, she didn’t have to do a thing with. They passed the test. There is something fundamentally wrong with it. And we’ve underfunded it by about $70 billion. We know the problem:

  1. Classrooms are too big; we need smaller classrooms, period.
  2. A lot of teachers are going to be retiring. We need a program where we attract the best and brightest students coming out of our colleges to be teachers, and pay them.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Princeton was last Ivy holdout to admit women & minorities

SEN. BIDEN: I want to set the record straight on Princeton. Many of us are perplexed by your answers regarding CAP, the organization. The thing that puzzles me is that it was, I thought, a pretty widely known debate that in the Ivys, the one last holdout, fighting to not admit as many women and fighting not to admit as many minorities, was Princeton. And there was a whole battle over it, as you heard referenced in terms of the Wall Street Journal and mailings to alumni. When you listed CAP, was part of your rationale for listing that on the application that you thought that would appeal to the outfit you were applying to, the people looking at your resume?

ALITO: Well, Senator, as I’ve said, I don’t have a recollection of having anything to do with CAP. So all I can say is that I put it down on the ‘85 form and, therefore, I must that been a member at around that time. By the time I entered Princeton, there were many minorities in my class. It went coeducational while I was there.

Source: Sam Alito Senate Confirmation Hearings Jan 11, 2006


Joe Biden on Voting Record

Voting for No Child Left Behind was a mistake

Q: Everyone else on this stage who was in Congress in 2001 voted for No Child Left Behind. Would you scrap it or revise it?

It was a mistake. The reason I voted for it, against my better instinct, is I have great faith in Ted Kennedy, who is so devoted to education. But I would scrap it--or I guess, theoretically, you could do a major overhaul. But I think I’d start from the beginning. You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need to start kids earlier. It’s all basic.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Voted YES on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted YES on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted YES on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors.

Vote to authorize a federal program aimed at reducing class size. The plan would assist states and local education agencies in recruiting, hiring and training 100,000 new teachers, with $2.4 billion in fiscal 2002. This amendment would replace an amendment allowing parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-103 on May 15, 2001

Voted YES on funding student testing instead of private tutors.

Vote to pass an amendment that would authorize $200 million to provide grants to help states develop assessment systems that describe student achievement. This amendment would replace an amendment by Jeffords, R-VT, which would allow parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-99 on May 10, 2001

Voted YES on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction.

Vote to reduce the size of the $1.6 trillion tax cut by $448 billion while increasing education spending by $250 billion and providing an increase of approximately $224 billion for debt reduction over 10 years.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-69 on Apr 4, 2001

Voted YES on Educational Savings Accounts.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit tax-free savings accounts of up to $2000 per child annually to be used for public or private school tuition or other education expenses.
Reference: Bill S.1134 ; vote number 2000-33 on Mar 2, 2000

Voted YES on education savings accounts.

This Conference Report approved tax-sheltered education savings accounts.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)36; NV)5
Reference: H.R. 2646 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2646 ; vote number 1998-169 on Jun 24, 1998

Voted NO on school vouchers in DC.

This legislation would have amended the DC spending measure, imposing an unconstitutional school voucher program on the District.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)58; N)41; NV)1
Reference: DC Appropriations Act; Bill S. 1156 ; vote number 1997-260 on Sep 30, 1997

Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education.

Vote to retain a provision of the Budget Act that funds abstinence education to help reduce teenage pregnancy, using $75 million of the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program.
Reference: Bill S 1956 ; vote number 1996-231 on Jul 23, 1996

Voted NO on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer.

Cut off federal funds to school districts that deny students their right to constitutionally protected voluntary prayer.
Reference: Bill S.1513 ; vote number 1994-236 on Jul 27, 1994

Voted YES on national education standards.

Approval of national education standards.
Status: Bill Passed Y)71; N)25; NV)4
Reference: Goals 2000: Educate America Act; Bill H.R. 1804 ; vote number 1994-34 on Feb 8, 1994

Rated 91% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

Biden scores 91% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Education: Joe Biden on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010