Every election year there is a swing in ‘hot button’ issues. Some of these change over time, some of them do not. This time around, the big topics of conversation are the usual suspects: immigration, healthcare and education. No matter what year it is, these are always central point of focus for presidential hopefuls looking to take the big chain in the Oval Office.
Of course, here at Degree Pivot we are most interested in education and what the election winner will be planning for students across the US and her territories. But this time around, the future of education is more uncertain than ever.
To get a look at what might be in store, we should look at our two primary candidates and what they have said about education in America.
GOP hopeful Romney has seen quite a bit of controversy in the last couple of months when it comes to his position on education. He has made it clear that he doesn’t support lowering university costs, nor providing aid to lower income families. Instead Romney “wants to empower families to save for their children’s education by making money earned on savings interest, capital gains and dividends tax-free for all middle class taxpayers.”
His plan is centered almost entirely around middle class families. It would allow them tax-free savings interests, dividends and other financial methods that he says would make it easier for them to save for their children’s future. However, this does not address rising university costs, lower income families, or the struggle with middle class families in a troubled economy.
Outside of university issues, he has been very clear about his policies on K-12 education. His primary concern is student choice, testing and No Child Left Behind. All three he supports, and he wants to see more charter schools, better teachers and fair pay for educators.
He has not presented a plan for funding this, however. With many schools closing down around the country, teachers being underpaid and overworked and classrooms too full, this is a major point he should address soon.
President Barack Obama is more or less sticking with his plans on education that were implemented during his first term. Many of which are yet to mature, such as the new assessments to better target student needs that will be ready in 2014. So, to give him a fair look it would be more prudent to see some of what he has already done, and what direction education would continue to take under his leadership.
First, he is a supporter of public choice in schools, as Mitt Romney is. He, like many Democrats, did not support school vouchers for private school attendance. However, he supports charter school and believes more should be opened to provide adequate competition for public schools, and to provide more choice to parents.
With No Child Left Behind, he has been clear about his dislike of the program. There were a number of problems in inner cities in particular, due to testing above learning becoming protocol to maintain funding. He promised to overhaul the program, but was unable to do so in a single term. Instead, he offered grants that allowed tens of thousands of teachers to be retained, and to keep schools open.
If given a second term, it is unlikely that he will kill the bill altogether. But changes are certain, and more grants money would probably be awarded to continue to aid teachers facing layoffs.
It is in university funding that you see the most difference between the two candidates. Obama offered a tax credit that refunded $4,000 of tuition to all Americans, and he cut out all banks from the loan process. Instead, all cash was given directly from the federal government. Romney has been critical of this, yet is provided billions of dollars for education, much of which went to Pell Grants and other assistance programs for students at various income levels.
There was also his policy on the DREAM Act, a first step towards offering education and citizenship to the US born children of illegal immigrants.
Looking at the facts, it is clear that President Obama is much more dedicated to education than Romney. I don’t think this is due to him not wanting the country to be educated. I think it is due to the widening class system in America.
Romney is very rich, and he has many times shown his ignorance of anyone who does not have money. His insistence that his university program will benefit the middle class is proof of that. His total lack of interest in the lower income bracket shows where he sees the place of the workforce.
But then, that is just one lowly blogger’s opinion.