Educators react to Tuesday’s presidential debate


by Colleen Flaherty/SlideRocket presentation by Johntel Greene

After this week’s presidential debate, Education Votes spoke with educators from across the country to get their reactions to the candidates and their respective views on education.

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

“Governor Romney did not tell the truth about education in the debate. His plans indicate he would decrease the amount of Pell Grants available and raise student loan interest rates. I believe he is trying to appear as if he cares about the American middle class, but is in fact an elitist snob who believes children get the education they can afford,” said Ohio educator Stacy Recker.

The inconsistencies between Romney’s extreme makeover at the debates and his “severely conservative” platform on the campaign trail have left some voters wanting.

“I was shocked at the first debate at the 180 degree change of Mr. Romney. If we cannot trust him to tell the truth trying to get elected, how can we trust them to tell the truth once he is elected?” said Lillian Flemming of Greenville, South Carolina.

“It is impossible to know Mitt Romney’s stand on anything because he changes his comments based on the level of conservatism of his audience,” said Michigan teacher Karen Zyczynski.


Massachusetts special education teacher Tracey Platt reacted to Romney’s education proposal of converting Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act into a national voucher program.

“As a special educator who works in a district and in a school that receives Title I funding, I know turning these programs into voucher programs would negatively impact the education of most children who receive special education and Title I services. Turning IDEA and Title I into voucher programs would pull money and other resources away from our neediest public schools.”

Other educators were concerned about Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts.

“Nothing he has done or said makes me trust that he won’t do the same thing at the national level. As governor, he gutted investments in education – which meant fewer teachers and more crowded classrooms – in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Colorado educator Barbara Clementi.

Reader Comments

  1. Aside from the GOP’s overt attacks on public education in favor of “competition” in the private sector, the real danger the GOP presents is in their economic vision for the USA, as witnessed in their economic and tax policies over the past 30 years.

    Since 1980, the middle class has been decimated and jobs have been offshored to bypass the high wage of the USA commoner for sweat-shop labor forces in a “global economy.” For an inside perspective on the “offshoring” of middle class jobs, see the fate of the common sense, much needed Bill S3816 (2010), “Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act” It includes generous tax incentives for small businesses and USA corporations who keep jobs home and hire USA workers, but would rescind loopholes in the tax code that provide “corporate welfare” for some of the most prosperous “multinational” corporations this world has ever seen. To me, it sheds light on the influence and effect BIG $$$ exerts on our legislature, as well as where our elected officials stand on “offshoring.” (See what the Bill contained and how they voted).

    In my view, the biggest issue that the USA must address to be able to sustain and provide our middle class with the world’s highest standard of living is to reinvigorate the middle class with decent paying jobs. Our next 20 years must reverse the trends of the last 20. The advancement of the unbridled Corporate State must be addressed, which will mean replacing Free Trade Agreements with Fair Trade Agreements, de-incentivizing the offshoring of jobs by repealing the $20-30 BILLION/yr that exist in the tax code for offshoring corporations, and grant generous incentives in the tax code for corporations and small businesses that keep jobs home and hire USA workers.

    An extremely successful ploy of the GOP (keep in mind, I voted GOP for 30 years) that has steered the conversation to their advantage, but couldn’t be further from the truth, is the mantra from the right claiming that Obama incites “class warfare” and desires a “redistribution of the wealth” to the poor (socialism). It has convinced many, but it is nothing less than deceptive. Here’s why…

    Real output in the (non-farm) business sector increased by 140% between 1980 and 2010. Real compensation per hour (includes wages, benefits, pensions, and insurance) increased by only 38% (granted: automation accounts for some of this). In the post WWII world, between 1947 and 1979, Americans shared equally in the increase in output that took place. In those 30 years, the income of the bottom 20% increased by 116% and the top 20% by 99%, and the three middle quintiles within that range.

    Then the world flipped! From 1980 to 2007 the rich took practically all of the increase in income. Over those decades, the bottom 20% got only a 15% increase, and the middle three quintiles got an average increase of about 25%. The top 20% received an income increase of 95% and the top 1% saw an increase of 261%. During the boom years of the middle 50s and 60s the nation’s wealthiest 10% received 33% of the nation’s personal income; by 2007, they received 50%.

    The most obvious way that the GOP has robbed the middle class to redistribute wealth upward has been the changes they have wrought in the tax code. Marginal rates have been slashed from 70% to 28% and capital gains tax has been cut to less than half the rate of the upper middle class income tax rate.

    A more subtle way they have accomplished this was through the redistribution of wealth of the USA manufacturing sector to the finance sector. The new game on Wall Street, coincidentally, isn’t USA manufacturing like it was before the Free Trade Agreements (especially) with China. It should come as no surprise that China’s gigantic manufacturing sector is now the heavy favorite on Wall Street ($600 BILLION annual trade deficits), a shift that benefits only China, the investment industry, and the top 20% who make most of their money in the financial/investment industry and whose tax burden is the slightest in the land through capital gains rates of less than 14%.

  2. There is a difference between “knowing” what Gov. Romney would do in terms of the Department of Education and its programs and policies, and being familiar with what his positions in this area actually are. Might I suggest, Lee, Michael, and Robert, that you go to the Romney website and read what he is suggesting about his approach to Education rather than accepting blindly what the NEA tells you to think. I am another (retired) public school teacher who will be voting for Gov. Romney.

    1. James, you are right. Everyone should read Romney’s education proposal. There you will learn that Romney will convert Title I and IDEA into a national voucher program. You will also find Romney’s proposal to eliminate teacher certification requirements. And Romney also proposes that banks be reinserted as middle men in federally guaranteed student loans, ensuring they make millions in profits while less money is available for students.

    2. Thank you so much for posting this. I too shall vote for Romney, primarily because he is pro-life and will protect the unborn, and end Obama’s evil reign. Thank you, again.

  3. I do not understand how ANYONE that is middle class or below can even think that they are Republican??? That party does not help anyone that is not rich!

  4. Glad to see a few NEA members defending the Republicans. I am a retired life member. As and administrator and teacher, I had just as much success grant writing to secure funds for my students with Republicans administrations as with as with Democrats. Educators teach their students to be critical thinkers. I do not endorse a mindset of teaching “Democrats only” it is not educationally sound. Our president’s apologetic attitude towards the exceptionalism of America, his foriegn policy,economic policies, health care policies and energy policies are somewhat embarrasing. Clearly I will be voting for my former Governor, Mitt Romney and suspect that at least a third of our NEA members will also.

  5. While I am no fan of Race to the Top, nor Arne Duncan, I do strongly believe that Mitt Romney would be disastrous for public education. I will be voting for the President.

  6. Becky, you are absolutely right about President Obama. As an educator, I disagree with the president on a number of education issues. But elections are about choices, and in this election President Obama stands heads and shoulders above Mitt Romney. Romney doesn’t believe class size matters, he would convert special ed and Title I into a massive voucher program, and his funding cuts would eliminate Head Start enrollment slots for tens of thousands of children. In addition, he wants banks to serve once again as middle men for federally guaranteed student loans, reducing the amount of money available to students. President Obama, on the other hand, saved the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators, led the fight to stop the student loan interest from doubling, and made historic investments in public education. I urge you to look at the total picture when you make your choice.

  7. Isn’t this a good time to hold President Obama’s “feet to the fire” and truly analyze his role in education policy. To me the Race to the Top was more No Child Left Behind. More failed policy similar to earlier Bush & Senator Kenedy rhetoric.
    Secretary Duncan seldom speaks like he understands what educator’s are dealing with.
    Come on NEA. Blindly endorsing Obama just because he is a Democrat really bothers us dues paying members. Have a healthy examination of what Obama has done to help me and my students.

  8. Here we are in November, just around the corner from January, 2013. It is almost time for NEA members to agree to have their dues deducted by their school systems. I hope that NEA is prepared for the sound of thousands of Republicans voting with their feet and deciding, “Not this year, NEA.” NEA is literally running Republicans away from this organization.

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