Posted In: Election 2012, Immigration

Romney outreach to Hispanics sidesteps DREAMer students, slams educator unions

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by Félix Pérez

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed Hispanics at two high-profile events this week, and despite being pressed on whether he would reverse a program that allows students who were brought here as children to live and work legally, Romney repeatedly declined to address the issue.

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During his appearance on Univisión, a Spanish-language television network, Romney did not offer a direct response to whether he would discontinue President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Deferred Action program halts for two years the deportation of qualified DREAMer students who arrived in this country as children, have done well in school, worked hard and played by the rules. The program does not create a pathway to citizenship or provide permanent legal status.

“This is something that’s going to have to be worked out by the Republicans and Democrats together,” said Romney. He likewise sidestepped the issue when addressing the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Romney has been criticized for promising to veto the DREAM Act, legislation blocked by congressional Republican leaders that would provide a path to legalization for qualifying students who enrolled in college or joined the military, and have been raised in the United States.

Doubling down on a recurrent theme from last month’s Republican National Convention and a line of attack increasingly used by Romney and his surrogates, Romney sought to drive a wedge between teachers and the unions they created to speak on behalf of their students and their profession.

Echoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s attack on teacher unions at the Republican convention, Romney said, “I think we have to change from a union-dominated setting to one where the very best and brightest are highly-compensated, they become mentor teachers.” He added, “I don’t want the unions telling us how we should attract people into a profession.”

Romney’s professed respect for teachers is at odds with his admiration for Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich, two governors who have slashed funding to schools and led efforts to take away the right of educators to speak out on behalf of their students through collective bargaining.  Both governors were given prominent speaking roles at Romney’s Republican convention.

Romney also reiterated his plan to divert federal education funding for use as vouchers for private schools, parochial schools, online schools, for-profit schools and other non-public schools.

Under my federal plan, I’m going to take dollars that normally are sent to states and school districts. I’m going to instead say, ‘That goes to the child to take to him or her to the school of their choice,’ vouched Romney.

Responding to a college student who asked what his plan was to ease student loan debt, Romney spoke about job creation. Missing, however, was any mention that the budget plan lauded by Romney and written by his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, would cut Pell Grants to more than 9 million college students by more than $1,000 in 2014. Over the next decade, more than 1 million students would lose this aid entirely.

Romney’s outreach to Hispanics comes amid the release this week of a damaging video of him, secretly taped, speaking at a fundraiser with wealthy donors. At the event, Romney said:

  • “My job is not to worry about” the 47 percent of Americans who “don’t pay income taxes” and believe they are “victims” entitled to government handouts.
  • He would have a better shot at beating President Obama if his parents were Mexican. “Had [my father] been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.”

Reader Comments

  1. Tom

    Mitt’s plan for to ease student loan debt is job creation. Is he talking about jobs like WalMart: the very people who are now running a program to help with feeding the world’s hungry? If that is his plan we are in dire straits. Walmart jobs pay so that part of an employee’s orientation is how to apply for food stamps and state sponsored health insurance. So Mitt wants to give more tax breaks to the Waltons so they can create more low pay/low benefits jobs. This “give to the Rich plan” has already been implemented once. Remember President Reagan’s Trickle Down Economics? Under that plan the disparity between low/middle income people and the top 0.1% really began to accelerate. But hey, it works for at least some, so its not all bad.

    Reply
  2. Bill White

    Mr. Romney lives a very different life from those of us in education. He doesn’t have to spend his own money when he convenes the “fat cat ” club. Teachers constantly spend some of our own money to supplement classroom supplies. Factor in our small/no raises for so many years and it’s easy to see why so many of us don’t see Romney as being capable of being President or of understanding the Middle Class!

    Mr. Romney thinks of himself, his wealthy friends, and even more tax cuts. That’s about it for Mitt!

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  3. TJ

    Republicans want to privatize education- period. They can write blank checks for wars but refuse to properly fund education. Mitt Romney knows NOTHING about public education and I wonder if he EVER set foot in a public classroom. Let’s demonize teachers and follow Mitt’s lead in bashing/disrespecting public employees with tired cliches. That will solve all the economy’s problems. Yes, the big bad teachers are ALL to blame. As for union ‘demagogery’- I’m proud to be in one and all the Fox, Rush, Tea Party, etc. with their class warfare nonsense, only strengthens my resolve and position. Obama-Biden 2012.

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  4. Mary

    Romney’s statement reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride. In the eyes of those who share this vision, the wealthy deserve special treatment, and not just in the form of low taxes. They must also receive respect, indeed deference, at all times. In the past, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses, knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide. The point is that what people are now calling Romney’s Boca Moment wasn’t some trivial gaffe. It was a window into the true attitudes of what has become a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy, a party that considers the rest of us unworthy of even a pretense of respect.

    The GOP wants to take our taxpayer dollars and keep them to themselves via charter schools. Jeb Bush wants to become a billionaire that way. If they are not careful, they will find that there are few teachers left after they try to beat them up the way they are doing these days.

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  5. Patty Cox

    How can any one listen to an individual who is running for President of the United States of America when he does not feel it necessary to answer to the question of where he keeps his millions? The rest of these discussions is a moot point. There cannot be trust of this individual, let alone a belief that he could have any idea what it will take to honor the programs that so many have relied upon. And if that means they are “victims” then what exactly has he said in all these months of running for president has he said that will give an individual like myself any idea of what he plans on doing to change things for the better? I have been listening but have not heard one idea!!!! How do we let this continue?

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  6. Ann

    Unfortunately, Romney has sidestepped the issues- in particular the DREAmer student program, and also much needed Pell Grants for students in the lower and middle-class to get an education. As a writer and now teacher, I believe unions are also needed because teachers are on the front lines of educating children. It has been my experience with public schools in Milwaukee that while there are many union officals who are supportive of teachers ( I don’t mean monetary wise), unfortunately a number of administrators ( not all I remember one outstanding associate principal) who really don’t carry out their jobs and entitle the students overstepping the teachers! It has led to chaos with not only teachers being seriously injured for life but security guards.. One assistant principal- when I was working inthe system until I resigned actually asked me to pass a student with a 15 percent average in my class who failed to show up for the final exam. Unbelieveable. Of course, I refused. I’d be happy if IF one of my children had done that if the teacher failed them, How was this student supposed to learn that there are consequences??? Yes, it’s true youth in city schools do have disadvantages, but it is a teacher;s job to also help support them as well as discipline them, not give them entitlement. This is a big problem in these schools with students being pushed throught the system and often there is favoritism,w hich I saw for teachers who go along with the administrators. Very sad. My God, I was ready for challenges, but when I had 18 year olds, of course a minority who couldn’t read or write I thought who could ever let this happen?? Truly, I don’t want to demean anyone, but whoever is responsible for pushing them through the system is unethical. Again, What do these students learn? Will it help them in real life? Romney doesn’t really understand education at all. Ac Milwaukee

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  7. Denise

    Unions allow the teachers to speak on behalf of the students, a luxury the teachers would not have if it weren’t for the unions.

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  8. Dan Caruso

    Well, James, at lest the words “corn” and “nut” in your blog appear to be accurate, as you are obviously one and full of the other.

    Reply
  9. Daniel W. Blackmon

    1) Romney’s failure to address the question directly is a transparent effort to duck the issue. One can only assume that his actual views would not be popular with his audience.
    2) The “union bashing” so popular in Republican circles is pure demagoguery. Teachers live the reality of education in our public schools every day of their lives. And no one became a teacher in order to get rich. Unions exist to protect teachers from being abused by School Boards and District Administrations. Anyone with any experience in public schools knows that School Boards will consistently and automatically exploit teachers every chance they get. Union members include both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.
    3) Reference was made to merit pay. The teachers I know do not object to merit per se. Show them a plan that is fair and practicable and they will support it. I have not yet seen one.
    4) Any serious attempt to improve our schools will require the active and willing support of the teachers, or that program is a waste of time. Teachers are the ones who deliver the product, not administrators, businessmen or legislators.
    5) Because teachers live education every day, they are well suited to judge whether a proposed reform is likely to be effective or not. They should be part of the process, not demonized as the enemy.
    5) A strong public education system is vital to the health of our democracy and our economic future. Denying schools needed resources is penny wise and pound foolish.

    Reply
  10. James Heath

    1. “This is something that’s going to have to be worked out by the Republicans and Democrats together.” Oh, my! What a terrible thing to suggest that the congressmen and senators elected by the people actually work together to pass legislation rather than acceding to the President’s preferred method of solving problems, dictating solutions. Hm…Didn’t our Revolution have something to do with finding that latter method a wee bit objectionable?
    2. ” Romney sought to drive a wedge between teachers and the unions they created to speak on behalf of their students and their profession.” First, no he didn’t. Second, there’s already a huge rift there for teachers who have trouble stomaching union demagoguery Third, the unions weren’t created to speak on behalf of students. Check your history on that one.
    3. Just a thought. If cutting some of the money from the Dept. of Education’s budget isn’t okay, where is it you think cuts ought to be made? And if no cuts, do you believe in the notion that increasing taxes on the “millionaires and billionaires” is akin to a never emptying chest of gold pieces?
    4. Check our my blog: cornvillenutmeg.wordpress.com.

    Reply
    • TJ

      You have clearly demonstrated your lack of knowledge of the public educational system as well as teacher unions, in general. Continue your vitriol, misplaced anger and your covetous nature while 99.9% of us change lives each day, love what we do and try to solve the world’s problems in the classroom-DESPITE you. Good Day, sir.

      Reply
    • Ann Tattersall

      Why does James Heath hate teachers so much? Why does he hate disadvantaged students so much? Why does he hate Latinos so much? Why does he hate women so much? Why does he hate poor people so much? Obviously, he’s another one of the 0.001% of white males who own this country, so he is a criminal, a rapist, a plunderer and, incidently, a liar. He belongs in prison for the rest of his life.

      Reply
  11. A. Barry

    I believe that these articles are an attack on Romney and that he needs a chance just like Obama got. Obama only started this dream act to help him get the Hispanic votes. The budget is bad no matter how you see it. And cuts will have to come to all areas in the United States. The unions aren’t for teachers to speak out for the students, it is for their own benefits and positions. These unions are hurting the schools and only help keep terrible teachers in their jobs.

    Reply
    • TJ

      you need educated about “terrible teachers” keeping their jobs. your jealousy prevents you from understanding what tenure actually is and does. I would explain it to you but you are probably holding your breath until you get your way- whatever that us. God help us and save from you and your children- if you actually have any.

      Reply

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