From her days as a staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) working as an advocate for children with special needs to her leadership of the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, Hillary has been a passionate advocate for providing greater educational opportunities to all children. Her work for CDF helped pave the way for the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the first time children with special needs were guaranteed the right to a free, appropriate public education. Her work in Arkansas led to tangible results: teacher salaries doubled, class size fell significantly, learning standards and assessments were implemented, and students were given much greater access to higher-level science and foreign-language courses. Hillary also brought Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, a model parent education program, to the state in order to better prepare all children to start school.
As the nation's First Lady, Hillary promoted the Prescription for Reading program, encouraging pediatricians to "prescribe" that new parents read to their children. She helped create Early Head Start in order to prepare students from low income backgrounds for school. She also spearheaded the administration's efforts to grow an after-school program from a pilot program of $1 million to a $1 billion program, serving children in all 50 states. As a senator, Hillary worked to reform and fully fund No Child Left Behind. She helped enact legislation to recruit and retain teachers and principals to high-need areas. She has been committed to strengthen and fully fund our special education system. She also helped fight off efforts by the Bush administration to slash afterschool funding by 40 percent. As president, Hillary will fight for each and every child in America to have access to the highest quality schools so that they can fulfill their potential and reach their dreams.
Ready to Lead
Early Childhood Education
Hillary knows that parents are our children's first teachers, and the early years have a tremendous impact on their lives. That is why she will invest heavily in proven strategies to get all children ready for school, including:
* Nurse home visitation programs to help new parents develop parenting skills.
* Quality child care and Head Start.
* Pre-kindergarten for all four-year olds.
Hillary also knows that we have to improve our K-12 system in order to ensure that every child is prepared to compete in an increasingly global economy. As president, she will:
* End the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.
* Meet the funding promises of IDEA to ensure that children with special needs get the attention and support they deserve.
* Recruit and retain thousands more outstanding teachers and principals, especially in urban and rural areas.
* Cut the minority dropout rate in half.
* Create "Green Schools" in order to reduce energy costs and eliminate environmental hazards that can hinder children's development.
* Expand early-intervention mentoring programs to help one million at-risk youth aspire for college and job success.
* Identify at-risk youth early on and provide $1 billion in intensive interventions, such as early college high schools and multiple pathways to graduation, to get them back on track.
* Double the after school program to ensure that 2 million young people have a safe and stimulating place to go between 3 and 6 p.m.
* Invest $100 million in a new public/private summer internship program.
* Provide opportunity for 1.5 million disconnected youth in job programs linked to high-growth economic sectors.
In the 21st century, a college education is more important than ever. Hillary believes it's time for a new bargain with the American people -- a bargain that gives all Americans willing to work hard the tools they need to get ahead. Her plan will make college more affordable and accessible so that every American who has earned it and wants to go has the chance to get a college degree. As president, she will:
* Create a new $3,500 college tax credit.
* Increase the maximum Pell Grant.
* Strengthen community colleges through a $500 million investment.
* Create a graduation fund to increase college graduation rates.
* Increase to $10,000 the college scholarship for those who participate in AmeriCorps full-time for one year.
* Get rid of the red tape in financial aid.
* Hold college costs down and hold colleges accountable for results though an online college cost calculator, a college graduation and employment rate index, and truth in tuition disclosure.
* Challenge selective colleges to expand access for students from low-income communities.