Romney floats radical education idea

Education policy had a few moments in the Obama-Romney debate last night.

President Obama said education would be gutted, if Republican challenger Mitt Romney is elected, Ed Week reports.

“I’m not going to cut education funding . . . and grants that go to people going to college,” Romney said.

Obama touted his plan to hire an additional 100,000 math and science teachers.

Romney countered that Obama’s $90 billion invested in green energy (“You pick losers.”) would have paid for two million teachers.

Obama linked his education reform agenda to Common Core Standards, which are supposed to be a state effort, Ed Week notes.

Obama, who doesn’t refer to Race to the Top much on the campaign stump, invoked his signature education-reform brand three times in the debate as having “prompted reforms in 46 states.” (Clearly a reference to the common core, without naming the common-standards movement, which is a politically dicey thing for the federal government to support these days.)

Both candidates said improving education is a key to economic prosperity.

 Romney “floated the most radical, furthest left idea” in education in his debate with President Obama, writes Dana Goldstein on Slate. Romney called for letting poor and disabled schoolchildren use their federal education funding to cross district lines to attend a better school.  The idea is included in his education policy white paper released in May.

“Historically, affluent and white parents and school districts have gone to great lengths to keep poor, nonwhite kids out of their own kids’ classrooms,” Goldstein writes.

  The Obama administration’s signature school reform program, Race to the Top, did nothing to encourage school integration or allow children to attend schools outside of their home districts—an important right, since many failing schools are located in districts where almost every school is underperforming, and those that aren’t have overflowing wait lists.

Romney hasn’t explained how his proposal would work and the chances it would happen are slim, she predicts.

What would President Romney do on education? Rick Hess looks at Romney’s record as governor of high-scoring Massachusetts.

Romney’s education record as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007 looks a lot like President Obama’s has. Romney inherited a strong reform tradition — built around standards, testing, and accountability. He maintained and strengthened this commitment by adding a science test to the state’s accountability system and supporting high school exit exams. He also pushed a controversial plan to mandate parenting classes for parents in low-performing districts seeking to enroll their kids in kindergarten.

In terms of school choice, Romney vetoed a bill to place a moratorium on opening new charter schools, and the number of charter schools increased modestly, from 46 to 59. He unsuccessfully championed merit pay for the top third of performers and for math and science teachers, offering bonuses of up to $5,000. He pushed for addressing low-performing schools with strategies that are quite similar to those favored by the Obama administration, including making it easier to replace principals and teachers in such schools or turning them into charters.

President Romney probably would push an Obama-like reform agenda, “but would do so with a lighter touch, less spending, and more emphasis on choice,” Hess predicts.

About Joanne


  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    So President Obama adopted Governor Romney’s education policies and Governor Romney’s medical insurance policies? I’m tempted to say something snarky.

  2. The suburban parents with good schools would be out of their minds to vote for vouchers, when at the same time Washington is making it nigh impossible to suspend or expel black males even if they richly deserve it.

    • I doubt a lot of the troublemakers have parents who would go to the work of getting their child to a school for which there is no bus service.

  3. Goldstein is delusional. Romney is calling to give control back to the states. If a school wants a poor kid and his federal money, fine. They are going to be able to say no. Andd they will all say no.

  4. tim-10-ber says:

    We can easily regionalize government schools…consolidate school boards, eliminate tons of administration expense…put the money into transportation and teachers…go for it…

  5. lightly seasoned says:

    Mandatory parenting classes to enroll in public schools? Yikes.

  6. Historically, affluent and white parents and school districts have gone to great lengths to keep poor, nonwhite kids out of their own kids’ classrooms,” Goldstein writes.

    Is she referring to this century or is she just another liberal pining for the halcyon days of segregation?

  7. Either way, we’re doomed. Both Romney and Obama will let the USA collapse before they threaten their ego-driven reputations – which shouldn’t be so threatened, except that most Americans are so dumb and selfish that making sacrifices now to save our future just doesn’t compute with the majority of the population these days. See you in 3rd world USA in a generation, when both our education system, and our overall economy collpases – taking our society with it.

    • Florida resident says:

      Indeed, dear Elim Garak !
      We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism,
      by John Derbyshire:

      $0.12 + 3.99 S&H on

    • I’m curious what sacrifices you’re referring to: The sacrifice of paying more in taxes across the board, or the sacrifice of cutting entitlement programs and making hard budget cuts? Or the sacrifice of hard work and delayed gratification? Or something else entirely?

      But I agree with you–we are doomed. I just heard this yesterday in an interview of George Gilder: “When the family falls apart, we’ll need a welfare state to take care of the women and a police state to take care of the men.” I think we’ve already crossed the point of no return.