Bill Clinton won his second term among other by using education as one of his key campaign issues. In 1996, he beat Senator Robert Dole who actually had backed nearly all of Clinton’s education proposals during his first term. Clinton campaigned against major efforts by the Republicans to shut down the Department of Education and shift the budget for public schools to personal packages for private institutions. In fact, during this election campaign, it was the last time the Republicans would make a call for lower funding for public education. The Republican party not only lost many votes with the American business environment that had backed the reforms but also with a huge number of voters.
After he was re-elected, Clinton used his first State of the Union address to propose comprehensive educational projects. He proposed voluntary national testing in fourth-grade reading as well as eighth-grade mathematics, and he proposed after-school teaching programs as well as a budget increase to finance 100,000 new teachers to reduce the size of school classes.
The years after the 1996 election, the Conservative party was battling against nationwide testing, as they believed that this was giving too much control and influence to the federal administration, despite the fact that the first President Bush had presented a comparable strategy only a few years before.
The Republican party was attempting to bring education and learning as an election topic in 1998 and 2000, and although they endorsed more and more money for education, they opposed numerous requirements and testing procedures that would lead to accountability for more financing. The Department of Education was very cautious not to fight against individual states while pressure was growing in Congress to alleviate IASA and Goals 2000, so they basically authorized all state applications of compliance with IASA or gave the states extra time to comply.
As a result of the rejection of NESIC by the US Congress, there no longer was a proper institution to assess requirements, so if a state would follow the appropriate procedure for matching the requirements of IASA, it would certainly be certified. Nevertheless, by 2000 you could still find only seventeen states that fully complied with IASA regulations, and IASA had been ratified six years before.
Bill Clinton recognized that education was the best feasible investment in the future and in people.
Developed middle-class entitlement: 2 years’ college
Bill Clinton succeeded in gaining consent for a number of new, and pretty substantial, social educational programs that always had been the centerpiece of his wishes. He organized new tax credits for higher education of more than $30 billion, and actually, this program turned the first two years of college into a middle-class entitlement. It was fantastic to see that by 1999, over a stunning ten million of the almost 14 million Americans that were eligible, had taken advantage of this specific program.
This achievement was totally ignored by Clinton’s critics. Some critics said that this wasn’t any big piece of legislation, but merely scraps off the table and that it wasn’t anything like the GI Bill of Rights. But actually, the college tax credit plan that was introduced in 1997 was much more substantial than the GI Bill of Rights, which basically related to veterans returning from World War II.