68 days from Election Day.
I feel like it’s time we talk about it.
Disclaimer: Many people have likely made up their mind, and many are not going to change their mind about who they would like to vote for. However I hope to make you at least think about your vote a little bit more than just what you’re being told on the big media giants, or what you hear on the radio.
Education is something that has not been talked about much in the election this year, the big topics have been more about jobs and the economy, or at least that’s been the talking points. Who has the right answer?
I’m not here to tell you who I’m voting for, but to lay out some information for you. There are other issues, I likely won’t cover, but this and subsequent posts are focused on education.
Part 1: Primary and Secondary Education
Since Secondary and Primary schools are hard to group separately I’ll talk about them as a group.
What they say:
“At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in the global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. It will help determine not only whether our children have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential or whether our workers have a chance to build a better life for their families, but whether we as a nation will remain in the 21st century the kind of global economic leader that we were in the 20th century. The rising importance of education reflects the new demands of our new world.”
- In his State of the Union address, President Obama challenged schools and states to keep good teachers on the job and keep students in school until they graduate or turn 18.
“Mitt Romney believes that the long-term strategy for getting America’s economy back on track is ensuring a world class education for American students. Global competitiveness begins in the classroom. In order to achieve this goal, students must have the skills to succeed in the workforce, ensuring that the promise of opportunity in this country remains strong.
Improving education in America is a priority for Mitt. He knows what can be accomplished when governors are empowered to reform their education systems, when education entrepreneurs are given the freedom to innovate, when teachers are rewarded for boosting student achievement, and when students are empowered to select a school or education program that meets their needs. Americans have long been known for their creativity, ingenuity, and bold vision for our country, and this attitude must apply to our education system.”
What they’ve done:
As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney has experience with Education. Much of what Romney currently leans on for education is his experience with the reforms of the Massachusetts charter school system. In this specific case he vetoed a bill that put a moratoriam on charter schools, this veto opened up the access of more charter schools and as he would tell you “more choices” and “better competition”. (The quotes are intentional, not as sarcasm, but rather because those are Romney’s actual words.)
Romney’s big plan is A Chance For Every Child.
If you’re looking for the Republican Mandate of what Education should look like, this is your plan.
The plan follows the main ideas:
- Increased Competition
- Setting High Standards for Students
- Clearing the way for new/better teachers
- Reform No Child Left Behind
The foreword of the Document is by Jeb Bush, and he opens it up well. However, it’s difficult for me to read in one paragraph J. Bush say, the education system has failed poor and minority students, and that there is no silver bullet; and follow up with the idea that “competition” will fix everything. Libertarians have been screaming for years that increased competition will fix education. I’m not convinced.
Setting higher standards is good, but standardized testing is one of the few ways we have to measure these higher standards and there is growing research about their inability to gauge the success of students after K-12.
Romney’s plan to add competition also extends to the teachers and setting standards that teachers must have their students reach. As Rick Perry has shown in Texas, this is a disastrous way to slowly erode your education system through drastic budget cuts and “creating teacher” competition. The plan also aligns ways for teachers without full accreditations to teach the ability to “compete” in the classroom. This also worries me.
Overall Mitt Romney’s Plan boils down to increase competition among teachers and schools, which Romney says will help “fix” the broken U.S. educational system.
Obama’s main experience with education has come in his tenure as POTUS.
His main legislation/plan in regards to K-12 education has been with the Race to the Top program. This program was implemented in 2010, and hasn’t really had any definite proof of it’s effectiveness, but the main areas it focuses on are:
- Increased Standards for Students
- Performance Based Evaluations of Teachers
- Reward High Achieving Schools
- Assist Low Achieving Schools
Summing it Up.
Education is not a topic that typically anyone is going to say is a huge factor, even if Obama saying he has a better plan for college availability people are more concentrated on economics and whether on not Paul Ryan looks good in a swim-suit. This is sadly the economic and political climate we exist in currently.
The Fact Is, Education is a huge economic factor to the viability of a nation and it’s future. Ignoring it, or marginalizing any part of it can have dire consequences. Primary and Secondary education is one of the most important things that will decide what the future of the U.S. will be. The major difference between the two candidates is the types of programs they would enact (Obama) or take away based on spending cuts (Romney).
Romney wants greater competition for schools just like he helped create in Massachusetts, but at what cost will this competition come?
Obama wants to reform out current schools with raising standards and increase availability for low-income students, but is our educational system past the point of reform?
I have to agree with Jeb Bush’s statement in the Romney plan stating there is no “silver bullet” to fix education, but I’m not sure either one of these plans are the best answer either. Education needs to be a primary issue for candidates because education is what rebuilds a nation, and fosters our future. That is something I believe Romney and Obama can both agree on.
We can’t expect our future to know the proper way to lead unless we help show them the way.
Education from an economic and political standpoint boils down to training students for the future workplace. Even from the level of elementary and secondary schools jobs and training for the future is the important thing, but much of that talk will be about higher education which I’ve reserved for Part 2, which will be coming soon.