The Gazette - Biden Promises New Education Era
By Rod Boshart
DES MOINES - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged today to usher in a new revolutionary era for U.S. education by expanding preschool options, easing college costs, and hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes and paying them more.
The Delaware senator told students, faculty and supporters during an appearance at Des Moines East High School he wants to give every child in America access to 16 years of public education by providing two years of preschool to every child and at least two years of higher education.
"Today just two-thirds of students entering high school graduate and about two-thirds of those go on to college," said Biden. "We are losing too many children in this country, wasting too much talent, leaving so much potential untapped.
"We know what we need to do: First, stop focusing just on test scores. Second, start education earlier. Third, pay educators more. Fourth, reduce class size. Fifth, make higher education affordable," he added.
Biden said his education initiative would cost about $30 billion - a total than is less than what America currently is paying to support three months' worth of the resource-sapping war in Iraq. He said he has the most viable plan for ending
the conflict and drawing down U.S. troops.
At a minimum, Biden said he would make sure that all students can afford at least two years of college by providing a $3,000 refund -- equivalent to a $12,000 deduction -- that would cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a two-year
college and cover more than half the cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college. He would provides low-income students with up to $9,300 of tuition assistance annually through the expansion of Pell Grants to $6,300.
Biden also said he would hire 100,000 new teachers to reduce the average class size to 18 students, particularly in the early grades, by providing $2 billion a year in grants to states and school districts to help them hire more teachers and provide incentives to attract new teachers.