TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

I also have a one-point plan, like I do on Iraq, on No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. It's a mess; it's a disaster.


What I would also do is have -- you know, we are 29th in the world in math and science. We need to have 100,000 new math and science teachers. We have to be number one again.

I would have preschool for every child. I would have full-day kindergarten. I'd revise our high school curriculums -- science, math, languages, civics, and an arts-in-the-schools programs to unlock our kids...



RICHARDSON: ... when they -- science and math...


STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to health care now. It sounds like -- and let me just sum this up -- no one on the stage is for merit pay for teachers, specifically.

(UNKNOWN): I am.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You are? OK, thank you.

(UNKNOWN): Well, and, George, I...

GRAVEL: Can I expand upon that since I've said I'm for merit pay?


GRAVEL: Don't leave me hanging.


GRAVEL: No, stop and think: They're all talking business as usual, politics as usual.

This country, we're so proud. We think we're number one.

GRAVEL: He just gave you a statistic of how bad we are.

I'll give you another one: We're 46th in literacy in the world -- in the world. Thirty percent of our children do not graduate from high school. What does that mean for the future of this country?

And all we get are the same old nostrums, that we need competition in education. Stop and think: Here, Iran -- not Iran -- Spain, Norway, Finland -- these countries, they're not the superpower of the world, but they pay for their children, from childhood to Ph.D. levels.

Why can't Americans put education as the top priority? And you can't do it when you want to expand, as he wants to expand, 100,000 more troops. Who are we going to nuke, who are we going to fight next?


Go ahead.



OBAMA: I want to be clear, George. I actually think that we can implement a performance-based system that teachers buy in to. But I don't think it can be imposed on teachers. I think it has to be one that is developed with teachers so that they have a sense -- Bill is exactly right.

Teachers, across the board, have to be paid more. My sister's a teacher, and I know how hard they work and what they go through.

But we've got to give them a pathway so that they can make more money, as they are developing more experience, as they are putting more into the classroom.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kucinich, Senator Biden, both on this quickly.

KUCINICH: Let me be the one who tells you how we're going to do this. I've sponsored a universal pre-kindergarten bill that will be paid for by a 15 percent cut in that bloated, wasteful Pentagon budget, which will yield $75 billion a year that we will put right into education.

We will create a universal pre-kindergarten program with a qualitative emphasis for education -- not quantitative so we make our children good little test-takers, but qualitative so our children learn real skills, learning skills, language, arts, and help them grow.

Learning theorists know this. Child psychologists understand this. Piaget talked all about this. Let's give our children the chance to grow, but let's put the money there. And I know where to get it...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden...

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