Republican Candidates Share Educational Policies

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In four days, California voters will have the opportunity to vote for Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Arizona Sen. John McCain, both of whom share traditional Republican values when it comes to higher education.

Bush, whose state recently grappled with race and gender-based preferences much like California did, supports a system of "affirmative access." Campaign aides yesterday defined the state's policy in terms of the 10-percent plan used in Texas public university admissions. The Texas system is similar to California's 4-percent plan, which would guarantee UC admission to a given number of students from every high school in the state.

"He believes in not focusing on quotas, but working to improve aggressive outreach efforts," said Margita Thompson, Bush's California press secretary.

Thompson said Bush supports expanding federal tax-credit programs for college tuition by creating educational savings accounts so parents can save up to $5000 per child tax-free.

The governor is also a proponent of enhancing the federal Pell grant system of low-interest loans, calling it a tool that has been very effective in "opening the doors of opportunity."

McCain, who trails Bush by a slight margin in recent statewide polls, has propagated a set of policies nearly identical to Bush's.

A campaign spokesperson said yesterday the senator has a long history of advocating a decrease in higher education costs.

"He has supported making loans more affordable, increasing the allowance level of Pell grants, low-interest loans and loan forgiveness," said Deputy Press Secretary Heather Mirjahangir.

McCain also supports the federal government's current system of tax credits for college tuition and has included several proposals to expand the system in his campaign agenda.

On affirmative action, Mirjahangir said McCain, like most Republicans, does not favor the policy.

"The senator supports giving opportunities to students no matter what their background is," she said. "But he is opposed to discrimination of all kinds and is not for quotas."

Mirjahangir said McCain has always cultivated a strong relationship with Arizona's large Latino community, and that the relationship has not been affected by McCain's views on affirmative action.

McCain has also called for reform within the U.S. Department of Education, saying he would decrease the size of the department's administration so more money could flow directly to the states.

Like Bush, McCain's policy is based on expanding opportunity for students. But Mirjahangir said the senator's policy differs from that of other Republican candidates in that it allows states - not the federal government - to determine higher education guidelines.


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