Education won’t get much more than lip service in an election that is mostly centered on the economy, but both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have very distinct visions for education reform. And while it’s not a primary issue in this race, many groups — parents, college students, and veterans — are more directly impacted by the plans to reform education than any other issue.
We looked at each side’s vision for the future of education, and the stark picture from each side couldn’t be more different.
Here are the plans, in the candidates’ own words.
The Obama Plan
The president stands by his Race to the Top initiative, which has raised standards in 46 states for college and career readiness. He’s pursuing 100,000 new science and maths teachers over the next decade.
The president also says his plan caps repayments on federal student loans at 10% of income, doubled funding for Pell grants, and expanded Head Start to include 64,000 children. The president also spent $2 billion investing in community colleges.
Finally, the president says he has gone a long way to repeal many parts of the No Child Left Behind law, which was criticised as restrictive and created incentives for schools that didn’t benefit students.
The president also takes pride in the passage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, “which has helped more than 800,000 veterans and their families pursue and education.”
The Romney Plan
Romney takes a much different direction than the president on education reform, with an emphasis on reforming No Child Left Behind and also investing in charter schools.
Romney’s plan is based on the idea that some students are trapped in bad schools, and wants to make alternatives possible like charter schools and digital schools. He wants to expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship program — the first federally funded school voucher program, which paid for scholarships for DC area children to attend private schools — to a nationwide program.
Romney wants to maintain No Child Left Behind, and emphasise transparency through public report cards and expanded parental school choice. Romney also wants to maintain good teachers by allocating block grants to the states and removing “unnecessary certification requirements that discourage new teachers.”
Romney blames rising tuition on “a flood of federal dollars” and wants to increase private sector participation — for-profit colleges — to address those challenges.
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