Just this past Wednesday, Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, announced his new education agenda at the Latino Coalition’s economic summit in Washington. This was one of the first times the topic of education has emerged during the course of Republican campaigning and primaries.
Romney referred to the education of minority students as “the civil rights issue of our era”, and then he promised to increase teacher quality in 10 federal agencies by consolidating $4 billion in expenditures. The money would be sent to each state as block grants.
Romney called teachers’ unions “the clearest example of a group that has lost its way” and said that President Obama had quavered regarding the issue of unions because the unions were powerful in the Democratic party. He went on to say, “President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses — and unwilling to stand up for our kids”.
Romney then promised that he would take on teacher’s unions.
Romney also spent some time talking about providing parents with more choices regarding schooling for their children. One of the biggest differences that Romney mentioned that contradicted existing policies included allowing disabled students and poor students the ability to attend any public school of their choice in their resident state, with the addition of, “or a private school where permitted by law”. Federal funds would also come with the student to the chosen school, rather than leaving the funding behind at the old school, where the student no longer went.
Including private schools in this message suggests that Romney may be considering a voucher program, in which public funding would pay for the private tuition. Although this concept has long been controversial, Republican lawmakers in Louisiana and Indiana have recently embraced the idea.
Different From Obama
The Times mentioned that Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (education policy group), said that these concepts shift away from President Obama. Finn added, however that “it catches up the federal policy to what is already state policy”.
Romney concluded his ideas on education: “For too long, we’ve merely talked about the virtues of school choice without really doing something about it”.