Dole's views on education harmful to nation's children

In the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, Bob Dole stressed the necessity of the family unit, stating that it alone is responsible for the well-being of a child. But recently Dole has shied away from this issue in search of bigger game.

This begs the question: What exactly are family values and what makes the issue such a vital one in this year's campaign?

The answer to this question is relatively simple. The issue of family values is one that encompasses the entire upbringing of our children. So what could be more important than the way a president confronts the growing problem of educating our society's y outh?

In order to tackle the issue, each presidential hopeful needs to focus on education, a main component of a child's upbringing. Bob Dole has done nothing to help education. During the Clinton administration, Dole voted to cut three key bills that would hav e addressed this growing problem.

First, he voted against the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. This bill would have provided $400 million in aid to our nation's school systems.

The next item on Dole's hit list was The National Service Trust Act of 1993, which would have given educational grants to potential students who do a certain amount of community service.

And if that was not enough, Mr. Dole voted against the Retain Higher Level of Education Funding bill proposed in 1996. This would have allowed consideration of an amendment that would fund educational programs at the same level they were funded at in 1995 , instead of at the 25 percent reduction proposed by the Republican Congress. The kicker is that these three programs would not have increased the deficit under President Clinton's proposed budget.

Dole has even proposed cutting the Department of Education altogether. He justified this by stating, "Students' achievement levels have continued to decline and now 25 percent of all high school graduates are illiterate." This approach tries to mask the p roblem and strike fear into the hearts of all education supporters (ironically, something that Dole accused Clinton of doing in regards to Medicare), instead of actually trying to solve this issue.

Clinton, however, has tried to improve the problem. His recently proposed education package has taken great strides to promote safer schools, higher academic standards and improved access to college.

A bill that President Clinton plans to sign this week, The National Service Trust Act of 1996, represents a nearly $11 billion effort to help poor students and others in grades K-12. The importance of this bill cannot be overestimated.

For instance, in high school I had a friend named "John" who did not have the perfect "nuclear family." I met John at a basketball camp held at St. Louis University in the summer of 1993. He lived in East St. Louis, Ill., when it had the second highest pe r-capita crime rate in the nation (Washington D.C. was the highest). His mother worked two jobs just to keep food on the table, and his father had left when he was just a child.

According to Dole, this kid would just be another member of the welfare dependent society, but John persevered. He worked a job at night, finished high school with a 3.8 GPA and was a highly touted member of the basketball team. He also participated in t he many "Midnight Basketball" programs offered to help keep kids off the street.

He learned from his teachers, coaches and counselors that doing well in school was much more important than using drugs or engaging in drive-by shootings with the local gang, and he is now enrolled at the University of Michigan.

While John's battle did lead him to success, the war still rages on. There are many other "Johns" in society that would be deemed hopeless by the Dole administration. Dole has actively campaigned against programs like "Midnight Basketball" in his televisi on ads.

The key to solving the problem of education is not giving these kids vouchers so they can choose which slum-ridden school to attend, as Dole proposes. The solution is to put money into education so poorer communities can keep the kind of teachers, coaches and counselors that were so influential in John's situation.

The issue is not whether the president inhaled marijuana 20 years ago, it is how the new administration will try to improve education for students like John. Dole's stance on cutting the Department of Education and other important programs fuels the fire for critics to question his ability to move this country forward into the next century.

This sentiment is represented in a statement made by President Clinton in a recent debate in San Diego, "I can only tell you that I don't think Senator Dole is too old to be president. It's the age of his ideas I question."

Arlie Rahn is a systems engineering junior and a Wildcat sports writer.