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Obama Offers Education Plan

Sen. Barack Obama offered an $18 billion education plan during a speech today at a high school in Manchester, N.H., calling on government leaders, educators and parents to share responsibility for improving the nation's schools.

"I'm proposing a comprehensive plan to give every American child the chance to receive the best education America has to offer - from the moment they're born to the day they graduate college," said Obama. "As President, I will put the full resources of the federal government behind this plan. But to make it a reality, I will also ask more of teachers and principals; parents and students; schools and communities."

Obama vowed to overhaul No Child Left Behind and criticized his rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards for not pushing hard enough in the Senate to fully fund the 2002 program. His plan includes:

For early childhood education:
-- A "Children's First Agenda" that provides care, learning and support to families with children ages zero to five.
-- Early learning grants to help states create high-quality early care and education for all young children and their families, along with increased Head Start funding.
-- An increase in the child-care tax credit

For schools and teachers:
-- A Service Scholarship program to recruit top talent into the teaching profession, with placement in overcrowded growth areas or struggling rural towns, and in tougher subjects like math and science.
-- Higher accreditation standards for schools of education and a voluntary national performance assessment for prospective teachers.
-- A "Career Ladder Initiative" that allows districts to reward accomplished educators who serve as mentors; teachers in underserved areas; and teachers who advance their education.

On the testing front:
-- New forms of assessments to determine student proficiency in technology, science and other core areas, similar to a program developed in New Hampshire.

But Obama added, "there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one. There is no substitute for a parent who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, make sure their children are in school on time, and help them with their homework after dinner. And I have no doubt that we will still be talking about these problems in the next century if we do not have parents who are willing to turn off the TV once in awhile, and put away the video games, and read to their child. Responsibility for our children's education has to start at home."

--Shailagh Murray

By Washington Post editors  |  November 20, 2007; 12:22 PM ET
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