Where candidates for Mass. governor stand on education

BOSTON (AP) — Education is always a critical issue in campaigns for governor in a state that prides itself on a knowledge-based economy. This year is no different.

Democratic and Republican candidates for governor have outlined plans ahead that they say will help improve and expand access to education and keep Massachusetts among the top rung of states in the national rankings.

Charlie Baker

Baker, a Republican and former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, said he would create an Excellence School District to enable and encourage dramatic improvements in the state’s lowest performing schools.

Baker said he would also work with state lawmaker to increase the number of charter schools and remove restrictions on the number of students who can attend them in the lowest performing districts.

“We can have great schools across the commonwealth that ensure opportunity for every single child, no matter where they live,” Baker said.

Baker said a four-year, full-time college program is increasingly unaffordable for middle-class and working families and he would work to make higher education more affordable, and better connect students to jobs.

Martha Coakley

Coakley said she, too, wants to ensure universal access to high quality early education, beginning with universal access for children in the state’s older, financially strapped municipalities known as Gateway Cities.

Coakley, the state attorney general and Democrat, also said she wants to expand learning time to allow for more one-on-one instruction and enrichment programs like art and music, expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, especially computer science, and better align training at vocational schools and community colleges with the state’s workforce needs.

“We have a responsibility to help every child in Massachusetts reach his or her full potential,” Coakley said.

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