by Félix Pérez
Warning! You are about to enter a time warp.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney trotted out his education platform this week — nearly six months after the first presidential primary in Iowa — and if you closed your eyes, you would have thought you had been transported back in time and were listening to former president George W. Bush.
Romney said he would:
- Convert the largest federal program dedicated to low-income students (Title I) and children with disabilities and special needs (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA) into a national voucher program.
- Expand the Washington, D.C., voucher program that President Barack Obama has moved to eliminate.
- Repeal the law signed by President Obama that eliminates banks as middle men on federally guaranteed student loans and uses those savings to increase Pell Grants, strengthen community colleges and make it easier for students to repay their federal student loans.
- Eliminate teacher certification requirements.
If you liked President George W. Bush’s education legacy, you’re going to love Mitt Romney’s education vision for America if he’s elected president,” said Arizona high school math teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Not only did he recycle many of the key education players from the Bush administration but he’s also pursuing some of the failed policies that hurt students and schools.
Van Roekel’s reference to “key education players” was Romney’s introduction this week of his education advisers. They include Rod Paige, the Secretary of Education under George W. Bush who called the National Education Association a “terrorist organization”; Tom Luna, the Idaho superintendent of public instruction who was the architect of bills to increase class sizes, reduce the teaching force, replace teachers with mandatory online classes and erode educator rights; and Nina Rees, who as President Bush’s Secretary for Innovation and Improvement pushed passage of the No Child Left Behind Act and schemes to direct public school funds to private schools.
A day after unveiling his education proposal, Romney was challenged in a discussion with Philadelphia teachers for his assertion that class size does not make a difference for students.
Music teacher Steven Morris, seated across from Romney, responded, “I can’t think of any teacher in the whole time I’ve been teaching, for 10 years, 13 years, who would say that more students [in the classroom] would benefit. And I can’t think of a parent that would say I would like my teacher to be in a room with a lot of kids and only one teacher.”
Learn more about where Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama stand on issues that matter to educators, working families and the middle class. Go to EdVotes’ Election 2012 page. Receive EdVotes’ weekly email.