Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Republican Party's Education Platform

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 11:00 AM

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A week ago I wrote about the Democratic party's education platform, which became significantly more progressive than the 2012 version as it moved from the first draft to its final form. The Republican party's education platform is pretty similar to its 2012 version, with a few changes around the edges. It added a condemnation of the move to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice, and it says an understanding of the Bible is "indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry" and encourages the study of the Bible as an elective part of the literature curriculum in high schools.

This paragraph sums up the general educational view presented in the platform.
After years of trial and error, we know the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement: Choice in education; building on the basics; STEM subjects and phonics; career and technical education; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, it must be a key element in our efforts to provide every child equal access and opportunity. We strongly encourage instruction in American history and civics by using the original documents of our founding fathers. 
A few specific recommendations in the Republican platform are supported by many Democrats, like its condemnation of Common Core, its concern over "excessive testing and 'teaching to the test'” and its concern about the collection and sharing of "vast amounts of personal student and family data, including the collection of social and emotional data." The two parties differ on most other issues.

Though it doesn't say the Department of Education should be abolished, the Republican platform calls for a smaller role for the federal government. Federal money should come in the form of block grants, it says, with fewer federal regulations "which have interfered with state and local control of public schools."

It supports all forms of "school choice."
We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits.
It calls for abstinence education rather than "family planning programs." It also opposes "school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception."

The Republican education platform echoes the stated views of most Republican officials fairly accurately, while the revised Democratic platform is more representative of the progressive wing of the party represented by Bernie Sanders' candidacy (Hillary Clinton has gradually moved in that direction as well) than the policies advocated by the Obama administration.

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