BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: In Depth: US Elections: Issues
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Campaign issues: Education
What they say
BUSH GORE
$5bn literacy programme Extra 70,000 teachers
Vouchers for poor families in failing schools No vouchers but testing for teachers
School testing set by states, reduce federal funding for failing schools
Mandatory school testing - close consistently failing schools then reopen

Education is expected to play a far larger role in the 2000 election than in 1996, when it was hardly mentioned as a campaign issue.

Over the last presidential term concern among American voters has grown over the state of the nation's public (i.e. state) schools.

That concern was heightened by a recent survey in which nearly two thirds of employers reported that a majority of high school graduates did not have the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.


I will shine a spotlight of shame on failure

George W Bush
Republican candidate
In an effort to turn the decline around, there has been a general move across America to set specific academic standards for pupils and schools, with penalties for schools that do not meet them.

The reform drive is part of a move to impose greater accountability on the education system.

There are political divisions over the issue, with Democrats favouring national standards whilst conservative Republicans favour local and state control.

But the main division between the parties is over the issue of "school vouchers".

Free choice

Republicans generally embrace the concept, which involves giving vouchers to parents that can be used to help pay for education in private schools.

This comes down to the traditional Republican principle of choice, bringing the elements of the free market into education as an incentive for under-achieving schools to improve.

Democrats generally oppose the idea, saying vouchers weaken public schools by withdrawing funding.


I want to bring revolutionary change to our schools. I want to work with parents and teachers to use new technology to tailor learning to each child

Al Gore
Democratic party candidate
They also point to the risk that children will be sorted by race, income and religion, with the poorest ending up in an underclass of under-funded schools.

The public is roughly evenly divided on the issue, although interestingly two thirds of minorities favour the idea as they tend to suffer most from bad inner city schools.

This poses some political problems for the Democrats, pitting one of their groups of supporters - minorities - against another - the teachers unions, who oppose vouchers.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

Inauguration:

Bush presidency:

PICTURE GALLERIES

Texts and transcripts:

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
ELECTION FACT FILES
Who's who
What's at Stake
State Profiles
Parties
Calendar
Links to more Issues stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Issues stories