4 Bold Education-Related Promises from Presidential Candidates

This year has brought out many interesting candidates for the 2016 presidency, including Hillary Clinton, and Jeb Bush. It is not surprising that these presidential hopefuls are already making lofty claims related to education. Here are just four of those promises, ranging from the hopeful to the outrageous.

  1. Bernie Sanders wants to make four-year college free. Sanders proposed something almost unheard of from any candidate: free college tuition to students who attend four-year colleges and universities. Sanders wants to encourage future labor participation and to combat the ever growing problem with student loan debt.

In his press release about his college tuition bill, Sanders also said that he believes passage of this legislation will help place the United States back at the top of the world in the percentage of people who graduate from college.

According to the Boston Globe by way of commondreams.org, the class of 2015 will carry a student loan debt of $56 billion and is “the most indebted class in history.”

Sanders’ bill has a close to zero percent chance of passing. Still–one has to admire his way of thinking. Student loan debt is out of control and so is the price of tuition at many of the country’s best colleges and universities. For lower income students, they are usually preyed upon by for-profit institutions with promises of attaining a college degree and future job placement.

  1. Jim Webb emphasizes adult education. Webb isn’t necessarily known for his stances on education but Forbes.com has compiled a small list of where the former senator stands on matters regarding education.

He’s a proponent of “second chance education” as well as adult education. In talking about the latter, Webb said that he wants “to place renewed emphasis on our public education system, including the often overlooked area of adult education.”

His idea of ensuring that most adults are able to read beyond an eighth grade level is good, and it matches well with Webb’s want to give young adults another shot at attaining a good education.

Regarding second chances, Webb says that just “75% of the kids in this country finish high school.” Fixing that problem is ambitious and will take years of political capital to adjust.

  1. Bernie Sanders wants to erase student loan debt. Sanders would work to forgive some student loan debt if elected president. In a speech he gave to students at the University of Iowa back in February, Sanders said that the federal government has made billions of dollars off of student loan interest payments in the last 10 years.

“We must end the practice of the government making billions in profits from student loans taken out by low and moderate income families. That is extremely regressive public policy. It also 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,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ numbers are correct by the CBO’s standards but have been openly challenged. According to the Washington Post, the math is fuzzy and there is no true way of knowing if the federal government is making a true profit off student loan payments.

Either way, numbers show and prove that the federal government has to pivot towards a new process for collecting payments from student loans or risk creating a new set of economic problems.

That, more than anything, seems to be part of the point that Sanders is making. He also acknowledges that if students weren’t forced to pay back so much of the loan or if the interest rates were lower, they would then have the ability to reinvest into the economy by purchasing a new car or a new home.

  1. Hillary Clinton wants to take on early childhood education. According to Bloomberg.com, Clinton visited a YMCA in New Hampshire to talk about her desire to increase funding for head start and other early childhood programs.

During her speech, Clinton took the opportunity to chide Republicans on their lack of interest in improving early childhood education.

“Republicans took care of those at the top and went after the kids. Republicans aren’t just missing the boat on early childhood education, they’re trying to sink it,” Clinton said according to Bloomberg.com.

In addition to fully funding early childhood programs, she wants extra tax breaks for “people who are taking care of kids” and wants to ensure that “every 4-year old has access to high-quality preschool” within 10 years.

Certainly striking a more progressive tone this go around, Clinton is likely trying to shore up the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. With Senator Elizabeth Warren turning into a certified political rock star over the past couple of years, Clinton has to do all that she can to appease the part of the party’s tent that supports Warren.

What do you think of the presidential hopefuls’ plans to improve education in America?

Check out all of our posts on Hillary Clinton here.

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