Today at the National Council on La Raza, John McCain is giving a speech outlining his plan for addressing the education challenges Hispanics face in the United States:
Today, studies show that half of Hispanics entering high school do not graduate with their class…We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition; hold schools accountable for results; strengthen math, science, technology and engineering curriculums; empower parents with choice; remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward superior teachers, and have a fair but sure process to weed out incompetents.
The problem is not with his words. But a look at John McCain’s record and policy proposals — including draconian spending cuts needed to pay for his corporate tax cuts — have disturbing implications for Hispanic students (and, really, every student). Here are some highlights from a new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund:
—McCain Would Imperil Education Funding: McCain’s massive budget hole would require deep cuts in education funding, as much as a forty percent reduction in non-defense spending. And McCain’s record shows he is willing to let education priorities fall by the wayside: he has consistently voted against resources for higher teacher quality, Hispanic drop-out prevention, and after-school programs that improve student performance. He has also consistently undermined effective efforts at accountability by refusing to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act.
—McCain Would Slash Head Start Programs: McCain has promised a discretionary spending freeze that would slash cut funding for Head Start by over $968 million. And the massive deficits his tax plan would rack up could increase pressure for across-the-board cuts that would slash Head Start’s budget by an additional $1.6 billion, and drop over 170,000 children from the rolls. Hispanic students make up 34% of all kids enrolled in Head Start, and the programs have been shown to dramatically reduce the gaps in test scores between Latino students and non-Hispanic Whites.
—McCain Would Keep College Out Of Reach: Federal Pell Grants have been called the “first course of action for Hispanic students from low-income households.” Half of all Hispanics who attend four-year colleges receive Pell Grants to help pay for school, compared to 16 percent-to-17 percent of whites, and 37 percent-to-45 percent of African Americans. But Sen. McCain voted with the Bush Administration to cut the value of Pell Grants, and has consistently voted against expanding access or increasing their value. McCain also skipped his vote and denounced the DREAM Act which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented young high school graduates, brought to the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday, who are pursuing a college education or military service.
—McCain Would Cut Community College Funding & Vocational Training: The majority of Hispanic students in higher education are “enrolled in two-year institutions, while the majority of white, African American and Asian/Pacific Islander students are enrolled in four-year institutions.” And yet, McCain voted for cuts to vocational education funding, and voted against letting the value of Perkins loans (the “largest direct aid initiative to community colleges”) increase with college costs. Furthermore, his plan for a discretionary spending freeze would cut $1.7 billion from community learning centers, and $3.7 billion from career and technical education grants.