Much as Mitt Romney’s claims about the number of jobs he created and outsourced while president and CEO of Bain Capital continue to generate skepticism, his central assertions about his education record while governor of Massachusetts raise the question about whether his at-times selective and less-than accurate credit-taking reflect a pattern.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.com rated as “Half True” this statement from Romney made this month: “When I was governor, not only did test scores improve – we also narrowed the achievement gap.”
According to the fact-checking service, “State education figures over two years support Romney’s claim about learning gains, although it’s worth noting that some areas declined on his watch, such as the drop-out rate. And it’s always somewhat dubious to take a snapshot of statistics from only one or two years . . .”
It goes on, “What’s more, Romney, a single-term governor, should not get all the credit for improvement in the achievement gap, which is influenced by myriad factors. His statement is partially accurate but omits a lot of important information and overstates his impact.”
Massachusetts education leaders called on by PolitiFact were less generous in their assessment of Romney’s contribution to closing the state’s achievement gap.
“The most important point to make with Gov. Romney’s record is that the reform he initiated was part of a much larger and longer movement that existed in Massachusetts,” said Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center, an independent, nonpartisan education research organization.
Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, offered this pointed appraisal:
He had nothing to do with it. It’s the teachers in the classrooms who are making the difference.
What, then, are some verifiable education-related actions taken by Romney as governor?
- Romney proposed eliminating early literacy programs, full-day kindergarten, and class size reduction programs. [Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, March 5, 2003]
- Romney vetoed a universal pre-kindergarten bill and “questioned the benefits of early education.” [Massachusetts Telegram and Gazette, February 2, 2007]
- College fees soared 63% under Romney because of his cuts to higher education budget as governor. [Boston Globe, June 29, 2007]
To be sure, Romney’s education record is not all thorns and thistles. A closer look, however, reveals some worrisome facts that he won’t likely highlight in a campaign ad or speech.