Out of Touch and Turning Back the Clock: Romney on Education

It was hard not to be taken aback earlier this month when presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his top supporters, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, again demonstrated how out of touch they are with ordinary Americans by voicing their desire to cut back on police, firefighters, and teachers. But the 3 million teachers, cafeteria workers, librarians, and other educators I work with weren't surprised.

That's because Mr. Romney has already revealed how little he understands about the issues that are important to the rest of us. Take his education agenda, for example. Today, few topics unite liberals and conservatives, but almost everyone seems to agree that George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has failed. There's almost unilateral agreement that NCLB's focus on standardized testing and punishing is wrong; it hurts our schools and our children.

Not only is Romney's education agenda short on details and long on inflammatory rhetoric, but the main proposal seems to be turning back the clock and resurrecting flawed policies from the George W. Bush administration. Romney has even surrounded himself with education advisers from the Bush era.

It's clear that Romney is out of touch with the concerns of middle-class families — his education plan ignores what they want and need for their children, and demonstrates total disdain for public schools and educators. When he made a speech about education, Romney blamed teachers but said nothing about any meaningful plan for building student success, engaging parents, guaranteeing equity, or addressing the special needs of students living in poverty.

Romney hasn't said much about his education record as governor of Massachusetts either — probably because he did little to improve education in the state. In fact, he cut early education and pre-k funding, vetoed $10 million for kindergarten expansion, questioned the benefits of early education, and suggested Head Start was a failure.

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