by Félix Pérez
Did Mitt Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch makeover burst into full public view last night?
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Viewers of the first presidential debate might have been confused at the Romney who was on stage versus the one who’s been out on the campaign trail. Gone were the claims that class size does not matter, that the nation does not need more teachers and that educator-led unions are the villains of public education.
“I don’t know who was there (at the debate), but it wasn’t the Mitt Romney by his past actions and words,” said Arizona high school math teacher Dennis Van Roekel.
He supports vouchers for private schools. He says class size doesn’t matter. He says kids ought to have all the education they can afford. And then he says if the cost of college is too high, ask your parents for a loan. That’s the Mitt Romney who’s been campaigning for president, and the one who was there last night said things totally different. He used Etch-A-Sketch to create a new president, said Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association.
Educators React to Presidential Debate
“I’m not going to cut education funding.”
“I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier.” The Ryan plan, written by Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, would cut education funding by $115 billion over 10 years and eliminate more than 190,000 Head Start slots.
While in his first year as governor of Massachusetts, Romney imposed the second-largest cuts to schools nationwide, while cutting taxes for 278 of the wealthiest people in the state.
“I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.”
“All the talk about ‘we need smaller classroom size’…that’s promoted by the teachers unions to hire more teachers.”
“I don’t have any plan to cut . . . grants that go to people going to college.”
The Romney-Ryan budget plan would cut Pell Grants to 9.6 million college students by more than $1,000 in 2014, and, over the next decade, more than 1 million students would lose this aid entirely.
“The place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is.”
Romney’s tax proposal would force a $2,000 tax hike on average middle-class families with children, while the wealthiest five percent of Americans would get a tax cut of $87,000.
Even with all his changes, though, there was one issue on which the reinvented Romney didn’t walk away from the old Romney: private school vouchers. Last night, Romney touted his plan to turn Title I and special education funding into vouchers.
“I happen to believe, I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I, I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice.”