2012 Election Education Issues

09.26.12 | Ralph Kerr | Comments[0]

            Education is not one of the major issues in this year’s election given the state of our economy and foreign policy. This does not mean however the educational issues are not important. Voters should be aware of the very different points of the view the two candidates for President have related to education.

            One of the reasons that education generally plays a lesser part in the discussion during Federal elections is because education is viewed primarily as a State issue. Historically the Federal government has played a minor role in funding education, namely between 7% and 10% of the total dollars spent on education. As a result States have insisted, and with some appropriate reasons, that the Feds leave educational policies to them. This has changed somewhat during the term of President Obama as he has sent billions of dollars to the States to save teachers jobs, and created the Race to the Top Program which forces States to compete against each other for grants.

            On the eve of this year’s election here is where the two presidential candidates stand on important issues in education.

            President Obama believes that giving education additional money, particularly for additional teachers will improve education. In 2009 this philosophy resulted in States and local schools districts receiving enough money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to retain approximately 300,000 educator’s jobs. In 2010 another $10 billion was given to retain approximately 130,000 positions. Unfortunately when this money ran out the following year many of the educators were let go. The skeptical among us might also think that more money to help retain teacher’s jobs may also make the teachers unions work harder to assure the President’s re-election. 

            The President has proposed a $30 billion investment in modernizing America’s schools and community colleges in the American Jobs Act, which is still awaiting congressional action.

The President also continues to call for higher standards for teachers and better assessments for students. His development of the Race to the Top program has been instrumental in achieving some of these goals already.

            Finally the President wants, “smarter data systems to measure growth and success and help educators improve instruction.”

            Governor Romney doesn’t see more money as the solution for improving education. He believes that better utilization of the funds already being given will improve education. In fact under his plan to cut domestic spending, education would see a reduction in funds.

            The Governor is calling for more rigorous academic standards and higher expectations for students along with more accountability on the part of administrators, parents and teachers.

            Governor Romney supports increasing the opportunities for special education and poor students to attend a wide variety of school choice options. Currently these opportunities are often limited to children of parents with means and no special education needs.

            The Governor favors abstinence education that teaches abstaining from sexual activity until marriage over what are often called “family planning” classes.

            Governor Romney also supports technical education, family literacy programs and English immersion rather than bilingual education. He also wants to change the designation of “highly qualified teacher” from referring to the degrees the teacher holds to take into account the academic results of the students in the teacher’s classroom. 

            As stated earlier these priorities and differences between the presidential candidates certainly don’t rise to the level of differences in fixing our economy or dealing with foreign policy issues but they are still important.

            I encourage all readers to consider these and others issues in this campaign then most importantly vote for the candidate of your choice.   

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