During a stop at her old elementary school in Lebanon, Mo., Claire McCaskill spoke today about the significant impact public education has had in her life and the crucial role it plays in the lives of Missouri families. A proud product of Missouri public schools, Claire believes that our public education system is foundational to the fabric of America and the key to helping middle class families grab the first rung on the ladder of opportunity. As Missouri’s Senator, Claire continues to make sure education is available to all Missourians, while Todd Akin has advocated for the elimination of the Department of Education and would end federally backed student loans and Pell Grants.
“America is the envy of the world because we have a public education system that rewards those who are willing to put in the work and create a better life for themselves,” said McCaskill. “If Todd Akin’s policies were in place, there’s no no way that I would have been able to afford college and law school. Akin’s extreme policies would fundamentally change the fabric of America and that is unacceptable. Todd Akin’s extreme policies would hurt our economy and would devastate Missouri’s families. I promise to fight on the side of Missouri families to make sure we make our public education strong and affordable.”
As Missouri's Senator, Claire's made affordable higher education a top priority and has been a strong advocate for students and middle class families. In 2007, she passed long overdue legislation that increased the number and value of Pell Grants. She also passed a measure that provides loan forgiveness to public school teachers after 10 years on the job.
Todd Akin has repeatedly said he does not believe the federal government should be in the business of helping middle and low-income students afford higher education, and has supported efforts to eliminate Pell Grants and other federal college affordability programs that are utilized by more than 185,000 students in Missouri.
At a debate hosted by the University of Missouri College Republicans in April, Akin refused to support a plan to keep student loan rates affordable, saying he preferred a plan that would eliminate federal student loans and make for-profit institutions the only option for students who need financial aid to attend college or trade schools. Akin said at the debate that the government should not be in the student loan business, and went so far as to say that student loans were equivalent to "stage three cancer."
Akin’s policies would also hurt secondary education in Missouri. He has said that he would completely eliminate the Department of Education which provides crucial funds that allow Missouri schools to operate. More than 900,000 children attend Missouri public schools and almost twenty percent of their funding comes from the federal government. He also voted against funding the Head Start problem which has been instrumental in improving early-childhood education.
The event is part of Claire’s final “Get Out the Vote” push to turn out voters in every corner of the state before the November 6 election and remind them of the clear choice in this election between Claire, a Senator on their side who has a proven record of working across the aisle to fight for Missouri and Todd Akin, an extreme candidate who wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, end federally backed student loans and abolish the minimum wage.
Akin Said That He Would Eliminate the Department of Education. Speaking at a Republican debate in Branson in January 2012, Akin said that he would vote to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Energy. As reported by the Associated Press, “Asked what federal agencies they would like to eliminate, Akin and Steelman said they supported getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education. Akin also cited the Department of Commerce as an ‘incredibly mettlesome’ agency ripe for elimination along with the Department of Energy though he said its supervision of the nation's nuclear stockpile was important enough that the duty would need to be carried out by some other agency.” [Associated Press, 1/31/12]
More Than 900,000 Children Attend Missouri Public Schools. According to the Missouri Department of Education, Missouri public schools served 919,067 students in the 2010-2011 school year. [Missouri Department of Education]
VIDEO: Akin Supported Eliminating Federal Support for Affordable Student Loans, Compared Student Loan Program to Stage III Cancer. During a debate hosted by the Missouri College Republicans in April 2012, Akin was asked whether or not he would support legislation that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for 7.4 million college students. Akin responded that the federal government should get out of the student loan business altogether, and compared the government's support for student loans to stage III cancer. "America has got the equivalent of the Stage III cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in," said Akin. "The government needs to get its nose out of the education business." [Missouri College Republicans Senate Candidate Debate, 4/21/12]
Akin Called For End To Federal Student Loans, Compared Government Involvement To "Stage Three Cancer." Reported the Columbia Tribune in April 2012, "The candidates also were asked about their stance on the federal student loan interest rate, which will double to 6.8 percent July 1 without Congressional action. . . . Akin said the government should be out of the student loan market altogether. 'America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,' he said." [Columbia Tribune, 4/22/12]
Akin Was One of Only 36 to Oppose Head Start Funding. Akin voted against the adoption of the conference report on the bill that would authorize $7.4 billion in fiscal 2008, $7.7 billion in 2009, $8 billion in 2010, and unspecified sums in fiscal 2011 and 2012 for the Head Start program. The measure would increase salaries of Head Start teachers and require that by 2013, at least 50 percent of Head Start teachers nationwide have at least a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education or a related field. The bill also would require the Health and Human Services Department to convene a panel of experts to devise a new application review system and update the current system of standards and assessment. The House adopted the report 381-36. [HR 1429, Roll Call 1090, R 154-36; D 227-0, 11/14/07]
Akin Voted Against School Construction Funding. Akin voted against passage of HR 3021, which authorized $6.4 billion in FY 2009 to modernize and make repairs to public schools, and $100 million per year from FY 2009 through FY 2013 for repairs to public schools damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The measure would allow funds to be used for repairs such as eradicating asbestos and lead-based paint, replacing electric wiring and plumbing, and purchasing technology, and require all repairs to be carried out according to green building standards. [HR 3021, Roll Call 379, R 27-164; D 223-0, 6/4/08]
Akin Voted Against School Construction Funding. Akin voted against the Rangel, D-NY, substitute amendment that would cost $110 billion in FY 2002 for individual and business tax reductions, additional unemployment and health insurance benefits and new spending on school construction, economic development, security enhancements and other domestic programs. It would offset $91 billion of the bill’s cost by freezing a reduction in the top individual tax bracket at 38.6 percent. The House rejected the substitute 166-261. [HR 3090, Roll Call 402, R 0-217; D 165-43, 10/24/01]