[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.vert.debate.both2.jpg width=292 height=320]Sean Cavanagh
John McCain and Barack Obama have voiced concerns about U.S. students’ middling performance in mathematics and science, echoing the views of many business executives and scientists. But fiscal realities may limit what they could do to address the issue as president.
Both candidates agree that improving the math and science teaching corps will be a key to meeting those challenges, and they’ve proposed new federal financial incentives aimed at luring more people into the profession and encouraging them to stick with it.
Sen. Obama’s math and science proposals are more ambitious, and almost certainly would be more costly, several observers said. The Illinois Democrat has called for an estimated $18 billion in new federal spending on preschool and K-12 programs in all subjects and areas, while Sen. McCain has proposed freezing most discretionary spending until he could conduct a full review of all federal programs. ("U.S. Education Budget Roiled by Financial Crisis," Sept. 29, 2008.)
Sen. Obama calls for creating 40,000 “teaching service scholarships,” worth up to $25,000 each, for those willing to teach in high-need schools and subjects, such as math and science. He says teachers would also benefit from a tax credit of $4,000 for college, and from his support for teacher-training “residency” programs, one of which is located in his home city of Chicago.
Sen. McCain, meanwhile, has said he would channel a portion of federal teacher-training funding toward bonuses for teachers who agreed to work in math or science and in hard-to-staff schools. The Arizona Republican also pledges to boost support for online education programs that focus on math and science.
“We need to provide more incentives and ability for math, science, and engineering students,” Sen. McCain said in an Aug. 20 campaign speech in Las Cruces, N.M. “We are falling behind in that area. Everybody knows that..."
Editor's Note: Teachers College Presents “Education and the Next President”
Tune in Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. Eastern Time, for this live webcast of a debate between Linda Darling-Hammond, education adviser to Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan, education adviser to Republican nominee John McCain. Don’t miss this important election event. Register free here.
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