Stocker: Democrats will better invest in education


Alexi Stocker, Columnist

Education policy affects us, as Northwestern students, in both obvious and subtle ways. From Pell Grants to graduate school, higher education is never far from NU students’ minds. And, even though our own K-12 days are over, within the next two decades many of us will start families and engage the world of preschool, primary and secondary education as parents.

Let’s start from the very beginning: preschool. The primary Democratic contenders are firm believers in accessible early-childhood education. Hillary Clinton announced her support for universal preschool back in June 2015, and Sen. Bernie Sanders sponsored a 2011 bill for universal preschool. Expanding access to preschool education yields impressive results: both low and middle-income students benefit from increased preschool access, resulting in long-term economic benefits as high as $10 for every $1 spent. Universal preschool addresses socioeconomic classroom segregation at the earliest level, and its benefits accrue to all students, from the lowest to highest performing. But despite these benefits, the Republican presidential candidates have either denounced universal preschool as government overreach or stepped back from previous positions of support.

President Obama’s Race to the Top awards states for innovative methods in saving troubled public schools, developing education standards and training effective teachers and administrators. Race to the Top has been a success, delivering results in states across the country. Race to the Top was even a hit with some conservatives, including former Florida governor and current GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush.

Democratic approaches to higher education are crucial to increasing social mobility in the United States. Hillary Clinton’s debt-free college plan and Sen. Sander’s college tuition reform plan — which includes free tuition at public colleges and universities — are necessary steps in this country’s progression to a more egalitarian society. Student loan debt places a massive financial burden on recent college graduates, consuming as much as 10 percent of their gross income. Excessive student debt prevents many college graduates from accruing the benefits of their education, lowering consumption and investment, thereby dragging down the economy.

The preamble of the 2012 Republican Platform declares the American Dream a “dream of equal opportunity for all.” Without equal access to education, from preschool to college, equality of opportunity can never be a reality. Republican education policies threaten to make equality of opportunity little more than a dream. The Democratic Party offers education policy that works toward that vision of equality of opportunity, investing in our nation’s future.

Education policy matters both to our present and future selves. As NU students today, and as future parents, Democratic education policies are the best choice for this country. NU students should vote Democratic for education policy that increases social mobility and builds up our economy.

Alexi Stocker is a Weinberg senior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.