Rose: This is a user question from William C. Spruiell about education. He says, "If we want to compare school performance, we need a common set of national standards for measuring the performance, but we have a tradition of local control of schools, which means curricula and standards can vary enormously from place to place. How would you go about dealing with these conflicting desires?"
Kucinich: My election will mean the end of No Child Left Behind as a way of achieving the education of our children, because the fact of the matter is, No Child Left Behind has made testing the end-all and be-all of education. Of course, you have to have tests, but you to realize that some school districts, the students have already started out behind. I want a universal pre-kindergarten program so that every child age 3, 4, and 5 will have access to full-quality day care so that they'll learn reading skills and social skills and learn the arts and languages to help them grow so they're ready for the primary schools. And I'm also planning on a universal college education plan where every young American would be able to go to college or a public college or university tuition-free. We have to make education a priority, but all this debate about education and testing is almost beside the point. Our young people are falling farther and farther behind based on where we stand with other nations. We have to start focusing on education. We only spend a fraction of the money on education that we spend on arms buildups. Under a Kucinich administration, education becomes one of the top domestic priorities. We put money into it. We cause the government to be vitally involved in it. And we make sure our children have the love of knowledge. All this stuff about test-taking, we make children good little test-takers under No Child Left Behind. It's the wrong approach to education.
Rose: What's the federal government's responsibility?
Kucinich: Great. It's a great responsibility the federal government has. I'll tell you how I'm going to get the money to fund a No Child Left Behind--excuse me--I'll tell you where I'm going to get the money to fund a universal pre-kindergarten program. A 15 percent cut in the bloated Pentagon budget will yield $75 billion a year that will pay universal pre-kindergarten, as well as more money to fund elementary and secondary education. The government has a major responsibility. After all, an educated populous is core, central to democracy. Charlie, as you walk up the stairs of the Capitol on your way into the House of Representatives, way over the top of that entrance to the House is a statue of a woman whose arm is outstretched, and she is protecting a child who is sitting blissfully next to a pile of books. The title of that sculpture, which is right at the center of our national experience as we walk into the House: Peace Protecting Genius. The goddess of peace protects the child genius. Under a Kucinich administration, peace, strength through peace, focusing on education is going to give our children a chance to unfold in the joy that every child deserves.