Obama vs. Romney: Two visions for education


By Amanda Litvinov

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Find out more about the candidates’ positions: Visit the EdVotes Election 2012 page. Click here ›

Ours is not an Etch-a-Sketch era. Running for the office of president in the age of YouTube—when every campaign speech and “informal” stop at the local diner is caught on camera—means now more than ever, every word counts. And all those documented words sure can clarify things for voters.

Listen to the candidates talk about education and two distinct visions quickly emerge: President Obama positions public education as the cornerstone of a thriving middle class and healthy economy, while Candidate Romney often refers to education as the exclusive domain of those with the means to attain it.



Of course stump speech proclamations are one thing—the supporting evidence is in the candidates’ proposals and policies.

“The proof is in black and white. Romney and Ryan want our students to get ‘as much education as they can afford,’” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “They can’t just shake the Etch-a-Sketch and make the facts and figures in Paul Ryan’s budget plan disappear.”

The Ryan/Romney budget plan would slash education funding by $115 billion over ten years–hurting the neediest students, causing class sizes to increase, forcing elimination of programs aimed at providing a well-rounded education, and actually reducing the number of  educators in classrooms.  The Romney/Ryan plan also would push 2 million kids out of Head Start and slash Pell Grants for more than 9 million students seeking a college education.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made it abundantly clear that they support the interests of corporate America and the wealthy over America’s students,” said Van Roekel.

In sharp contrast, President Obama’s annual budget proposals have consistently increased funding for education, and his college tax credit has helped more than 9 million students and families pay for college. The president also recently pledged to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade in order to prepare students for the 2.7 million new technology jobs expected to open up by 2018.

Find out more about the candidates’ positions: Visit the EdVotes Election 2012 page.

Reader Comments

  1. I am supporting Governor Romney. Public education was important enough to him that it became a priority for Massachusetts. I feel that the current economic plan doesn’t help the middle class, but rather the lower class. We have people that are now the 3rd and 4th generations on government assistance programs. That attitude of “it is someone else’s responsibility to take care of me and make sure I have what I want” has trickled into every facet of our society. It is seen in the classroom, on jobs, and with college. I believe that we need to get back to providing help to those who truly need help and forcing everyone else to pull his weight. How am I, as an educator, supposed to motivate a student who has the newest phone, buys whatever he/she wants at the grocery store, lives in free housing, pays reduced utilities, eats 2 meals a day 5 days a week free, drives around in a new, expensive car, goes to the doctor whenever he/she needs an excuse, gets whatever prescription drugs desired at a discounted cost, etc. to work hard so they can have what they want in life? Is it possible that this area of budget spending has been ignored because it could cost a lot of votes? It is time that the middle class starts holding the government responsible instead of being used as a pawn in an election because we are the ones paying for it. If the middle class has seen improvement with Obama’s administration, it hasn’t been where I live. I am very disappointed with NEA’s blatantly biased comments and am reconsidering membership because of it.

  2. In reading comments from Darrell I am truly hoping that he is NOT a teacher. The poorly written comments are lacking in punctuation and contain so many grammatical errors that it hurt my eyes to read them. Perhaps a product of an overcrowded classroom. Yes, (class) size does matter!

    1. …or perhaps someone whose first language is not English, yet has worked hard to become a fairly fluent writer. Open your mind and your heart will follow.

  3. I have been a member of the NEA for 7 years now and I am very happy with their negotiations and what they have done for myself and educators everywhere. However, I find it disturbing that they are trying to persuade us to vote for Obama. I will not support Obama and they are twisting the words of Gov. Romney. Now I am not a big fan of Romney, but I don’t appreciate the fact that the NEA is pushing for a candidate to be voted in. Obama has NOT fulfilled his promises to education and the change he pushed 4 years ago has happened, but for the worst. I hope the NEA will eventually try to not persuade it’s members.

  4. I have taught in public schools full time for over 18 years, and have been a member of NEA for the entire time. While I agree with many principles of NEA, I do not agree with their choice of candidates. President Obama has not fulfilled his promises to increase jobs. I have no further to look than my own household and friends to see this. Four more years of the same will not help this middle class family. Education, like many other systems, has become too bureaucratic. This expanding bureaucracy has spread the education budget too thin. We don’t need Washington tell us how to educate our students. The one thing Obama has accomplished, that most Americans didn’t want, was national health care. I would vote against him, just based on that. There is no way that we will get to go to the doctor as often as we want, or get the health choices we desire for long under a government plan. I prefer the excellent plans I’ve had as benefits in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. Benefits I chose and worked towards. I still believe in democracy, not socialism. I still believe that within each young person’s life, education can lift them out of poverty. Do I believe we should have equal money and benefits? No. That is socialism. It hasn’t worked elsewhere, and it won’t work in America. Let’s give someone else a chance. Why do some think it is a bad thing that Romney is a business man? I think we need some real good business people in our government. Thanks for listening.

  5. “President Obama positions public education as the cornerstone of a thriving middle class and healthy economy, while Candidate Romney often refers to education as the exclusive domain of those with the means to attain it. ” Educating our children is one of the most important things we can do. Not just to benefit the communites we live in but to socialize and develop productive citizens. The GOP agenda wants to ultimately get rid of public education (K-12) and privitize it, virtually making it impossible for those who cannot afford to pay, to forgo education. The facts speak for themselves. As an educational professional we can see these trends and are constantly lobbying and fighting for the basic educational rights for children. Unfortunately, Education has become not just about the ABC’s & 123’s. Our Public education institutions have become a place where politicians, academics, members of clergy and business leaders see public schools as a logical site for the assimilation of immigrants and the social engineering of citizens and workers. In this, the curriculum has expanded to include Nutrition, Immunization, Health(Vision & Hearing testing), Phys.Ed.,Science,School Transportation,Vocational Ed.,Business Ed.,Art & Music, Speech,Kindergarten,School Lunches,Math,Safety,Driver’sEd.,Sex Ed.,AP Programs,Head Start, Title I, Title IX,Etc…..up to almost 50 more strands! This is a huge issue that encompasses not just one thing but many socio-economic areas and the answers are not clear. If you benefited from a public education, it is your civic duty to support a program that also benefits the children of America, because believe me, most of the people who are writing in this blog are probably not millionaires and will be relying on these children as our doctors, lawyers, nurses, dentists, teachers, police, politicians…

    1. Do you really think the GOP wants to privatize K-12 Education? Successful businesses got where they are because they had an uneducated workforce? Local control and less bureaucracy are the answer not federal mandates.

  6. I will support Mitt Romney, not Obama, in this presidential election. Obama encourages the continuance of a socialist welfare state which relies on government; and makes Blacks and Hispanics seem as though they are worthless, non contributors to this great nation. Furthermore, it seems they are takers who will continue taking from the taxpayers instead of finding employment. What’s wrong with working at McDonald’s if that’s the only job available; It’s an honest job? Also, this Obamacare is killing what’s left of our economy! I am one middle-aged Black woman who will not be voting for Barack Obama!!!

    1. Mitt Romney is a business man that only understands NUMBER! If the numbers affect him then he fills bankrupt. Not good for the nation. Look up how many companies he filled with. (taxbreak) It is President Obama! He is not pushing welfare. I retire from the military and my retirement check is tax at 28% and I served 27 years. Romney paid 14% on 20 million. Romney says he will bring it down but his goes down to 10% and me to 20%. Check the math, please. President Obama is pushing for to stop tax break for people in America that make more than $250,000. People look at the fact. Romney has person interest in company that sell stuck to the military. Paul Ryan said he received millions of dollars from the VP Biden for a company during the VP debate. Look up that company. People, please do your research. Look at all three debates at least three times. And last if the health care is so bad why do Mass has the same plan but on a smaller level?

  7. The biggest fallacy is to think that Wash. DC , which is 450 miles away, cares that much or has the resources to satisfy what we need to provide a good education for our young-
    sters. When you think about it, government in Wash. DC should be limited to just the basic needs.
    Work with local government to achieve the needs which are most necessary ; and, then, state government to complement those needs. The Feds should be concerned about the Common Good of this nation and the Defense of this nation against our enemies.PERIOD
    The sooner this comes to be, the Better.

    1. First Wash DC is different miles for different locations. What about the children that live in DC? Are they different? Second every person in America is equal to the same education and the government regulates the policies for that state. If that state does not abide the rules then that resource are pulled from that state. With no government then state would have different school for different race, gender, and religious. Basically, only strong white man would be getting a good education. It takes education to make America. This is a common good and education is the best defense.

    1. Gov. Romney does not need anyone to twist his words. He’s during a GOOD job of that by himself. Stop and think about how many times this candidate has not “spinned” but told down right bald faced lies. It is a may be called mis-speaking when it happens on occasions, but when it becomes consistant, it must be called what it really is.

  8. The only way to fix the education mess in our country is to equalize the amount of money spent on every child for their education. There should not be “better” schools, “better” school districts. Every child has the right to have the same education as every other child – regardless of zip code!

    1. Susan, When did you come to this nation of laws from your Socialistic homeland? We have not heard such malarky as this in a very long time. Would it that you are not a
      teacher and spreading this philosophy throughout the classroom and the system.

  9. The only thing that has allowed people to get out of poverty and climb the class ladder has been through education. The reason our system is broken now is because of the continued destruction of our education system and a dumbed down electorate.

  10. Our educational system is broken so is our economy. I will have to agree with Gov.Romney in that people are going to have to do the best they can do with what they can afford. Borrowing money for education right now is foolish as the jobs aren’t there to support you after your done. For those kids who need extra help parents may have to step up like the used to and help their own children. There is a wealth of information out there as to how to do that. Educationing our children should not rest soley on the backs of the taxpayers. In our quest to control every outcome we have become broken. Maybe progression is learning from our mistakes and changing our course.

    1. I have to completely agree with you Patch! I feel that having a degree no longer sets you apart from everyone else, mostly because EVERYONE can get a degree. Having a college degree is a privelage NOT a right!!! Children have a RIGHT to education which is k-12! I worked extremely hard in highschool and my parents made huge sacrifices to get me to college. We pay enough taxes as it is, and if we continue to hand out degree’s like they are a right, they will continue to be almost worthless!!

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