Dennis Kucinich on Education

Democratic Representative (OH-10)

Cut the Pentagon budget 15% for tuition-free college

If we cut the Pentagon budget 15%, $75 billion will go into a universal pre-kindergarten program so our children ages 3, 4 and 5 will have access to full-time day care and more money would go into elementary and secondary education. Our college-age students need to know that with a Kucinich administration they’re guaranteed a two- or four-year college, tuition free, and it’ll be paid for by the government investing in our young people. That’s the kind of approach I’ll take to education.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

End No Child Left Behind; end testing as be-all & end-all

Q: Don’t we need a common set of national standards for measuring school performance?

A: My election will mean the end of No Child Left Behind as a way of achieving the education of our children, because the fact of the matter is, No Child Left Behind has made testing the end-all and be-all of education. Of course, you have to have tests, but you to realize that some school districts, the students have already started out behind. We have to make education a priority, but all this debate about education and testing is almost beside the point. We only spend a fraction of the money on education that we spend on arms buildups. Under a Kucinich administration, education becomes one of the top domestic priorities. We put money into it. We cause the government to be vitally involved in it. And we make sure our children have the love of knowledge. All this stuff about test-taking, we make children good little test-takers under No Child Left Behind. It’s the wrong approach to education.

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

Free education from pre-kindergarten to college

Q: What could you do to curb the high Hispanic dropout rate?

A: There is a serious link between diminishing opportunities for education and poverty later on in life. I would do this. First of all, to institute a universal pre-kindergarten program so that every children aged 3, 4 and 5 would have access to full day-care and prepare them for the primary schools. Secondly, I would fund that with a 15% cut in the bloated Pentagon budget. The minute that you start talking about funding education people say, “How are you going to pay for it, ” but the fact of the matter is, the money’s there, we have to put the emphasis on where we get it. It begins with funding elementary and secondary education by reorganizing the No Child Left Behind Act, and it also means having free college for all American young people because we have the resources to do it. What do we stand for if we don’t stand for the education of our children? What do you think? Should we have free college?

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

Fund universal pre-K with 15% cut in Pentagon budget

Let me be the one who tells you how we’re going to do this. I’ve sponsored a universal pre-kindergarten bill that will be paid for by a 15 percent cut in that bloated, wasteful Pentagon budget, which will yield $75 billion a year that we will put right into education.

We will create a universal pre-kindergarten program with a qualitative emphasis for education -- not quantitative so we make our children good little test-takers, but qualitative so our children learn real skills, learning skills, language, arts, and help them grow.

Learning theorists know this. Child psychologists understand this. Piaget talked all about this. Let’s give our children the chance to grow, but let’s put the money there. And I know where to get it, and I’m ready to take that action.

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

Teach sex ed in schools; including AIDS prevention

Q: The kind of AIDS prevention outreach is no longer eligible for Ryan White funding if it includes frank talk about gay people. Will you reinstate AIDS prevention as a category in Ryan White funding?

A: First of all, the answer to your question is yes. This is a very serious health issue. And through our education system, a president must help the country, and help our children, in particular, learn the kind of conduct that promotes health. And that also means sex education. Now, some parents may not want that, and they should have the right to opt out. But the truth of the matter is that we need to have sex education. We also need a president who is ready to embrace people with AIDS in a real, meaningful way that says that, look, we want you to receive all the care that you need by having a not-for-profit health care system.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Sent kids to public school; apply that to all kids

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

A: My daughter, Jackie, went to the Columbus public schools and got a great education. And I want to make sure that that commitment that sent her to public school is a commitment that will cause all American children to be able to go to great public schools.

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

Stop funding war, start funding education; 15% DoD reduction

When we shift the paradigm of this country away from war, then we start to have the resources which must be there for education, for universal pre-K, for fully-funded elementary education, for college for all. Spending between $1 & $2 trillion on this war, that is money out of the educational lives of our children. We need to remember the connection.

I’m ready to see at least a 15% reduction in that bloated Pentagon budget, stop funding war, start funding education. That’s where we get the money.

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

Constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal opportunity

Q: Is race still the most intractable issue in America?

A: Racial inequality is real; it affects every area of our lives. Now, it’s interesting the philosophy that’s guiding leaders in the executive and the judicial branch of government, because they go out and tell people, “Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps,” and then they steal their boots.

We need to have a policy in education which first of all is guided by certain fundamental rights--[I support the] bill that makes having an equal opportunity for education a matter of a constitutional privilege. And it is imperative that we have a constitutional amendment guaranteeing educational opportunity equality.

Next, in the meantime, universal free kindergarten. Every child age 3, 4 and 5 should have access to full, quality daycare. Eliminate those disparities that we see early on in school. And finally, we need to assure that every child should have a chance for a quality college education as well.

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

Quality education is a core American right

Since education is the only proven way to reduce poverty, it is unacceptable that a child’s education be dependent on where they are born or the financial status of their family. The federal government spends only 2.9% of its budget on education. This must change. Quality education is a core American right and value. Schools need money to decrease class size, increase teachers’ salaries, renovate decaying facilities, and for pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.
Source: 2006 House campaign website, www.kucinich.us , Nov 7, 2006

Vouchers divert public money away from public schools

Q: Do you support allowing parents in areas that are poor or with bad schools to use tax money to help send their children to private schools?

A: No. Sending a few kids somewhere else at the public’s expense and leaving the other children in a crumbling school even shorter on funds than before is no solution at all. Vouchers divert public money away from the vast majority of public school students. In most cases, these are the students who need it the most. As president, I will lead in the fight to improve public schools, and oppose alternatives that divert attention, energy, and resources from efforts to reduce class size, enhance teacher quality, and provide every student with books, computers, and safe and orderly schools.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “School Vouchers” , Jan 25, 2004

Stop making us a nation of test-takers: free education

Q: You voted for the testing standards of No Child Left Behind. Would you throw it out now?

KUCINICH: Yes, I would. I would replace it with is a new educational structure where the focus would be on helping to bring forth the creativity of our children in stressing arts and language, music; to invite the participation of educational philosophers and psychologists and administrators and teachers and parents and children; to take a new focus on our education, to stop this incessant direction of trying to make us a nation of test-takers, of putting the pressure on teachers to teach to the test, and then school districts depending on the results of those tests for their funding. No Child Left Behind has not worked out the way that anyone thought it would. It’s become an unfunded mandate. I would have a universal pre-kindergarten program where children can go to school beginning at age 3, a fully funded elementary and secondary education act, and free college tuition for all America’s young people.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College , Jan 22, 2004

Establish universal pre-kindergarten programs

Young children who have access to a quality pre-kindergarten education benefit with higher academic achievements, increased graduation rates and decreased juvenile delinquency. [Kucinich] introduced legislation that will expand full-day, full-year quality education programs to all children over the age of three. The Universal Pre-Kindergarten Act will provide funding to establish universal pre-kindergarten programs that build on existing pre-kindergarten initiatives.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Keep public education separate from private education

Good public education has to be supported allowing for all citizens to make this an even better society, while private education must continue to operate free of government regulations.
Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1996

Voted NO on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted YES on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted NO on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance.

Amendment to preserve the authority of the US Supreme Court to decide any question pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill underlying this amendment would disallow any federal courts from hearing cases concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. This amendment would make an exception for the Supreme Court.

Proponents support voting YES because:

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.

If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.

Opponents support voting NO because:

I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.

By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.

Reference: Watt amendment to Pledge Protection Act; Bill H R 2389 ; vote number 2006-384 on Jul 19, 2006

Voted YES on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges.

This vote is on a substitute bill (which means an amendment which replaces the entire text of the original bill). Voting YES means support for the key differences from the original bill: lowering student loan interest rates; $59 million for a new Predominantly Black Serving Institution program; $25 million for a new graduate Hispanic Serving Institution program; provide for year- round Pell grants; and repeal the Single Lender rule. The substitute's proponents say:
  • The original bill has some critical shortcomings. First and foremost, this substitute will cut the new Pell Grant fixed interest rate in half from 6.8% to 3.4%, to reduce college costs to those students most in need.
  • It would also establish a new predominantly black-serving institutions programs to boost college participation rates for low-income black students, and a new graduate Hispanic-serving institution program.
  • As we saw from 1995 to 2000, the questions employers were asking was not your race, not your ethnicity, not your religion, they wanted to know if you had the skills and talents to do the job. Most often today, those skills and that talent requires a higher education. A college education is going to have to become as common as a high school education.
    Reference: Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act; Bill HR 609 Amendment 772 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 30, 2006

    Voted NO on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

    Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

    Voted YES on requiring states to test students.

    No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

    Voted NO on allowing vouchers in DC schools.

    Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer federally-funded vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.
    Reference: Amendment introduced by Armey, R-TX; Bill HR 4380 ; vote number 1998-411 on Aug 6, 1998

    Voted NO on vouchers for private & parochial schools.

    Vote to pass a bill to allow states to use certain federal funds designated for elementary and secondary education to provide scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Riggs, R-CA; Bill HR 2746 ; vote number 1997-569 on Nov 4, 1997

    Reduce class size to 18 children in grades 1 to 3.

    Kucinich co-sponsored an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

      Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grants program to:

    1. recruit, train, and hire 100,000 additional teachers over a seven-year period ;

    2. reduce class sizes nationally, in grades one through three, to an average of 18 students per classroom; and

    3. improve teaching in the early grades so that all students can learn to read independently and well by the end of the third grade.
    Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1036 on Mar 14, 2001

    Teacher development grants to improve math & science classes.

    Kucinich co-sponsored the National Improvement in Mathematics and Science Teaching Act:

    Title: To improve the quality and scope of science and mathematics education.

      Summary: Directs the Secretary of Education to:

    1. make grants to States for improvement and recruitment of quality teachers in science and mathematics education;

    2. make grants to States for professional development of mathematics and science teachers;

    3. establish 15 John Glenn Academies, for summer workshops and intensive, year-long fellowships for 3,000 individuals to prepare them to meet State certification requirements;

    4. establish and operate a National Clearinghouse of Best Practices to coordinate successful and proven professional development opportunities for teachers;

    5. make grants to improve science and mathematics education, and encourage more students to enter the fields of mathematics, science, and technology;

    6. make grants to promote both achievement equity and gender equity in mathematics and science education;

    7. establish a tax credit for businesses that employ science, mathematics, and technology teachers in summer fellowships related to their fields of teaching; and

    8. establish a fair market value tax deduction for charitable contributions of science, mathematics, or technology equipment to public elementary and secondary schools.
    Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR117 on Jan 3, 2001

    Opposes requiring schools to allow school prayer.

    Kucinich co-sponsored a bill weakening the requirements on voluntary prayer:


    To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve the quality of public education and raise student achievement by increasing investment, strengthening accountability, raising standards for teachers, improving professional development and teacher compensation, rewarding successful schools, and providing better information to parents, and for other purposes.
    H.R.340: SEC. 10410. SCHOOL PRAYER.
    Any State or local educational agency that is adjudged by a Federal court of competent jurisdiction to have willfully violated a Federal court order mandating that such local educational agency remedy a violation of the constitutional right of any student with respect to prayer in public schools, shall be ineligible to receive Federal funds under this Act until such time as the local educational agency complies with such order.
    Opposing legislation H.R.1:
    No DOE funds shall be available to any educational agency which prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis. [This is weakened in HR340 by requiring a federal court ruling on each school district before the removal of DOE funds.]
    Source: H.R.340 01-HR340 on Jan 31, 2001

    Rated 90% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

    Kucinich scores 90% 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

    $25B to renovate or repair elementary schools.

    Kucinich signed Fix America's Schools Today Act (FAST)

    Source: HR2948&S1597 11-HR2948 on Sep 15, 2011

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
    OH Gubernatorial:
    John Kasich
    OH Senatorial:
    Josh Mandel
    Michael Pryce
    Rob Portman
    Sherrod Brown

    Retiring to run for other office:

    Running for President:
    TX-14:Ron Paul(R)

    Running for Mayor:
    CA-51:Bob Filner(D)

    Running for Governor:
    IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
    WA-1:Jay Inslee(D)

    Running for Senate:
    AZ-6:Jeff Flake(R)
    CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
    FL-14:Connie Mack(R)
    HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
    IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
    MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
    MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
    ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
    NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
    NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
    NY-9:Bob Turner(R)
    WI-2:Tammy Baldwin(D)
    Lost Primary 2012:
    IL-16:Donald Manzullo(R)
    NJ-9:Steven Rothman(D)
    OH-2:Jean Schmidt(R)
    OH-9:Dennis Kucinich(D)
    PA-4:Jason Altmire(D)
    PA-17:Tim Holden(D)
    TX-16:Silvestre Reyes(D)

    Retiring 2012:
    AR-4:Mike Ross(D)
    AZ-8:Gabby Giffords(D)
    CA-2:Wally Herger(R)
    CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
    CA-18:Dennis Cardoza(R)
    CA-24:Elton Gallegly(D)
    CA-26:David Dreier(R)
    CA-41:Jerry Lewis(R)
    IL-12:Jerry Costello(D)
    IL-15:Timothy Johnson(R)
    IN-5:Dan Burton(R)
    KY-4:Geoff Davis(R)
    MA-1:John Olver(D)
    MA-4:Barney Frank(D)
    MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
    NC-9:Sue Myrick(R)
    NC-11:Heath Shuler(D)
    NC-13:Brad Miller(D)
    NY-5:Gary Ackerman(D)
    NY-10:Ed Towns(D)
    NY-22:Maurice Hinchey(D)
    OH-7:Steve Austria(R)
    OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
    PA-19:Todd Platts(R)
    TX-20:Charles Gonzalez(D)
    WA-6:Norm Dicks(D)
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