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Education Reporter

Obama Wants To Spend $2 Billion on Education in Other Countries
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On the campaign trail in September, President-elect Barack Obama promised to spend $2 billion a year to educate children in other countries. Obama identified an international "education gap" between the United States and third-world countries. "Above all, we must do our part to see that all children have the basic right to learn," said Obama. "There is nothing more disappointing than a child denied the hope that comes with going to school, and there is nothing more dangerous than a child who is taught to distrust and then to destroy."

The United States Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established 2015 as the goal year for universal free education. Obama did not specify how the $2 billion would be spent, but he did mention the year 2015, which implies that the money would be redistributed through UNESCO.

Obama's proposal borrows from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Education for All Act, which she introduced in 2004 and 2007. Clinton has estimated that universal worldwide education for all children not currently in school would cost between $5 and $10 billion a year.

The proposal also lines up with the Democratic Party platform for 2008, which promised to "create a $2 billion Global Education Fund . . . with the goal of supporting a free, quality, basic education for every child in the world." The platform affirmed, "we need stronger international institutions."

With Barack Obama poised to become president, the United States may be headed toward unprecedented levels of international involvement and foreign aid. As a new senator, Obama sponsored legislation to align the United States with the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. The Democratic platform for 2008 promised to "double our annual investment in meeting these challenges to $50 billion by 2012."

Some commentators have speculated that these promises may be the first to go overboard, however, as Obama takes office in the midst of a serious economic downturn. The Democratic platform also made lavish promises to children at home — or rather, to their parents who may want help paying for day care. "We will make quality, affordable early childhood care and education available to every American child from the day he or she is born," the platform declared.

The platform stated, "we will provide all our children a world-class education, from early childhood through college." Obama's plan for college affordability involves a $4,000 tuition tax credit for almost all Americans entering college, in exchange for public service of some sort. In all, Obama's education proposals would cost an additional $18 billion a year.

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