Now that Mitt Romney has secured the Republican presidential nomination, he no longer has to convince a majority of Republican primary voters that he is a Neanderthal who believes the Earth really may be flat. Now, he feels the need to convince a majority of Americans that he cares what they care about – a quality public education system. (Call it an EtchaSketch moment.)
But he is falling flat on his face.
So far, Romney’s “education policy” consists of attacks on teachers’ unions and President Obama and endorsements of longstanding, pieinthesky proposals to privatize education through expansion of charters and diversion of tax dollars to private schools through “school choice” vouchers. He is perpetuating the myth that charter schools are the magic solution for educational ills when, in truth, charters on the whole are no better or no worse than traditional public schools. Instead of improving the public schools, Romney would tear them down in order to enrich charter and private school operators.
I don’t care how many presidential candidates, governors and entrepreneurial education “experts” (holding out their hands for tax dollars) laud these cherrypicking alternatives. The vast majority of children will continue to be educated in traditional public schools, and that’s where our tax dollars need to be spent.
Romney’s antipublic school stance now should be no surprise. As governor of Massachusetts, he cut education funding and student aid. He and Rick Perry share a dim view of the public schools and have little empathy for young people of modest means trying to make it through college.
Romney’s education budget cuts in Massachusetts had the same effect as Perry’s education budget cuts in Texas. Teaching jobs were lost, class sizes increased and educational quality suffered. As president, Romney would take the same ax to the federal public education budget.
Like Texas’ budgetslashing governor and legislative majority, Romney says he doesn’t believe that class size matters, despite an overwhelming amount of research to the contrary. (Check it out by clicking on the link at the end of this post.)
Class size does matter. And, so do elections. As president, Romney would be for public education on a national scale what Rick Perry is for public schools in Texas – bad news.