Today in Des Moines, Iowa Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) unveiled his plan to give each child in America 16 years of free public education. Biden’s plan would give every child in America their regular K-12 education plus, two years of preschool and two years of higher education.

“My mother has an expression: ‘Children tend to become that which you expect of them.’ I want a country where we expect much from America’s children,” said Sen. Biden. “Every child must graduate from high school. Every qualified student should get a minimum of an associate’s degree.” Biden wants to make sure that students can afford college by providing a $3,000 College Access Refund that would be used to cover the cost of tuition and books for a two year program, or half the cost of a four year program. The Access program would also provide $9,300 of tuition assistance to poor students by expanding Pell grants to $6,300.

“Today just two-thirds of students entering high school graduate and about two-thirds of those go on to college,” said Sen. 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.”

Biden also said that he would hire 100,000 new teachers in order to reduce the average class size to 18 students. He would accomplish this by providing $2 billion in grants to states and districts to help them hire more, or attract better, teachers. I think that the Biden plan is a much better approach then President Bush’s No Child Left Behind. All that NCLB has done is force teachers to teach to a test, and turn students into better standardized test takers. I am not a fan of federal involvement in education, but I have no problem with the Feds turning money over to the local districts and letting them do what they want with it.

As far as the free two years of college is concerned, $3,000 doesn’t seem like much money for two years. Tuition alone at a less expensive school could cost this much a semester. The overarching point that the American educational system needs to be improved can’t be ignored. It still remains to be seen how Biden would pay for his plan, but education is an investment that makes our nation stronger, and I think it is time for some real programs, not just political shams like No Child Left Behind.

Biden’s education plan 

Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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