Education Key in Presidential Race

Published November 1, 1999

“Improving education” will be “very important” to 80 percent of Americans in deciding how they cast their votes in the next Presidential election, according to a poll released in September by ABC and The Washington Post. Public concern about education has not been this high since the unexpected launch of the Sputnik I satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Another recent survey, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and the Gallup organization, found that parents with children in public schools increasingly are looking for a publicly funded alternative to the public school system.

Democrat candidate Al Gore’s proposal for improving education is to provide more financial resources to public education. He believes the voucher option would weaken public education by draining money from public schools and “creaming” the best students.

Gore’s primary opponent, Bill Bradley, isn’t a voucher supporter either. He believes “the jury’s still out” on whether competition from vouchers in Milwaukee and Cleveland has spurred the public schools there to improve.

Republican candidate Elizabeth Dole recently declared her support for K-12 education savings accounts, and she has proposed a $1,000 tax credit for individuals who donate to charitable organizations that provide scholarships for low-income children. Candidate Gary Bauer supports measures that would restore parental choice in education and is strongly opposed to having government officials decide which child is entitled to a choice of schools.