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In Mass. Senate Race, Approaches On Education Differ For Brown, Warren

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(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (AP) — When it comes to education policies, Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren both agree that improve public school systems need to be improved and college must be more affordable. But that’s where the agreement ends.

Warren, a longtime Harvard University Law School professor, has trumpeted affordable and high quality education as a key issue in her campaign ads and speeches.

“Our kids are crushed by debt and they didn’t go on a shopping spree; they got an education,” she says in a campaign ad.

In the television spot, Warren urges Washington to financially invest in education, rather than focus on giving tax breaks to rich Americans.

She also believes in spending on early childhood education programs, school lunch programs and closing the achievement gap in public schools.

“We need to see education as an investment in our future, from strengthening early childhood education programs to ensuring that college students aren’t drowning in debt after they graduate,” Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney said in a statement.

Brown has also spoken out against the current state of education, calling for changes to the No Child Left Behind law, greater transparency and support for charter schools.

But, unlike his opponent, the Republican believes schools should disclose their spending, which he said would increase competition.

Parents and students “should be able to see where a university spends money and how much the highest paid faculty members are making to increase competition and provide incentives to keeps costs low,” said Brown campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre in a statement.

In May, Brown introduced two pieces of legislation that sought to extend low rates for federal Stafford student loans for another year and to force nonprofit colleges and universities to list certain tax information on their websites. Both bills await committee action.

Brown voted in favor of similar loan rate extension legislation included in a transportation bill, which was signed into law in late June, after opposing previous Democratic proposals to extend the low rate.

Marre said Brown supports greater transparency and accountability from administrators and school districts, as well as teacher evaluations based on student test scores. He also supports amending No Child Left Behind to include more flexibility for states that have done well, which Warren also supports.

But while the two share similarities in some of their education policies, Brown has criticized his opponent, whom he often refers to as “Professor Warren,” for earning a hefty salary at Harvard, while speaking out against the cost of college tuition.

According to tax forms Warren and her husband, also a Harvard professor, reported income totaling nearly $3.4 million over tax years 2008-2011. Warren topped her earnings in 2009, earning as much as $347,933.

Undergraduate tuition for the university was just under $55,000 for the 2012-2013 school year, but with the school’s multibillion-dollar endowment, more than 60 percent of students receive an average of $40,000 in financial assistance.

Warren’s campaign defended professor salaries, saying “there are a number of factors that come into play in determining the costs of tuition.”

“Scott Brown would rather attack Elizabeth than defend his votes to cut Pell Grants and allow interest rates to go up on student loans,” said Warren campaign spokeswoman Julie Edwards. “Attacking Elizabeth is not going to make college more affordable.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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