Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren Draw Sharp Lines on Education

There’s less than a month and a half left to go until Election Day, and the race occupying the attention of Massachusetts residents isn’t the one between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney — Massachusetts is a reliable Democratic vote in 2012 — but between first-term Senator Scott Brown and his opponent Elizabeth Warren. And as the campaign season is winding down, one of the main issues separating the two candidates has been their views on education.

Warren, who has a long background in academia and is a Professor at Harvard University School of Law, has recently released an ad calling on Washington politicians to increase government investment in education. In the ad she said that helping students who are burdened by high levels of student debt should be a priority over another round of tax breaks for America’s wealthy.

Warren has also expressed support for increasing funding for early childhood education programs that she believes are a key to solving the problems plaguing the country’s education system.

“We need to see education as an investment in our future, from strengthening early childhood education programs to ensuring that college students aren’t drowning in debt after they graduate,” Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney said in a statement.

Both candidates believe that America’s schools are on the wrong path — especially since the passage of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, a cornerstone education initiative of the administration of George W. Bush. Unlike Warren, however, Senator Brown believes that the key is not continually increasing spending, but instead forcing schools to disclose how they spend their budgets, which he hopes would foster competition. His drive for more fiscal transparency is also wedded to his strong support for school choice in the form of state-funded charter schools.

Parents and students “should be able to see where a university spends money and how much the highest paid faculty members are making to increase competition and provide incentives to keeps costs low,” said Brown campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre in a statement.

During the last Senate session, Brown introduced a piece of legislation aimed at bringing his goal of transparency closer to reality. The bill would force public colleges and universities to make certain tax information public on their website. The proposal is currently awaiting a committee hearing.

Brown has also been a supporter of expanding the the low rates currently charged for federally subsidized Stafford student loans, which were scheduled to double at the end of this year. He has also submitted a piece of legislation which would preserve the low Stafford rates for an additional year.

Brown has frequently criticized Warren for speaking through her hat on the issue of high college tuition, since she received a very generous salary from her professorial job.

According to tax forms Warren and her husband, also a Harvard professor, reported income totaling nearly $3.4 million over tax years 2008-2011. Warren topped her earnings in 2009, earning as much as $347,933.

09 20, 2012
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