Mitt Romney’s plan to federalize education reform

“What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”

– Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in his foreword to Mitt Romney’s “white paper” on education.

Promises such as that have become boiler-plate in Republican campaigns, which take as a given that there is no problem that cannot and should not be attributed to meddling by the federal government.

However, in reading Romney’s 35-page education white paper (more on that later), I was struck by the contradiction between that boiler-plate promise and the long string of new requirements that Romney would place on state and local governments.

They include, and I quote (emphasis mine):

“Require states to adopt open-enrollment policies for students receiving Title I and IDEA funds, and to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.” (Note: This part of the Romney plan would create a federally funded school voucher system, using federal tax dollars. Is a federal voucher system an enumerated power in the Constitution?)

– “To expand the supply of high-performing schools in and around districts serving low-income and special-needs students, states accepting Title I and IDEA funds will be required to take a series of steps to encourage the development of quality options:

First, adopt open-enrollment policies that permit eligible students to attend public schools outside of their school district that have the capacity to serve them. Second, provide access to and appropriate funding levels for digital courses and schools, which are increasingly able to offer materials tailored to the capabilities and progress of each student when used with the careful guidance of effective teachers. And third, ensure that charter school programs can expand to meet demand, receive funding under the same formula that applies to all other publicly supported schools, and access capital funds.”

– “Replace federally mandated school interventions with a requirement that states create straightforward public report cards that evaluate each school on its contribution to student learning.”

“States must have in place standards to ensure that every high school graduate is prepared for college or work and, through annual testing, hold both students and educators accountable for meeting them. The results of this testing, for both their own children and their schools, must be readily available to parents in an easy-to-understand format.”

“… states seeking block grants will be required to establish evaluation systems based in part on effectiveness in advancing student achievement, reward effective teachers and principals with additional compensation and advancement opportunities, eliminate or reform teacher tenure, streamline the certification process for becoming a teacher, and prohibit seniority-based transfer and dismissal rules (including Last In, First Out layoffs).”

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that those sound very much like “prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”

They sound as if Washington will be dictating how teachers will be hired and fired and also how they will be compensated, evaluated and promoted. They sound as if Washington would dictate how and even whether teacher tenure is granted. They sound as if Washington will require states to promote vouchers and charter schools. They sound as if Washington will dictate standardized testing of students and how those tests will be used.

We can debate the wisdom of such steps, and as I noted above, I intend to come back to the white paper and to Romney’s speech this week on the topic, because it contains some important material. But for the moment, let’s just acknowledge the basic hypocrisy involved in claiming to reject federal mandates on Washington and then proposing an entire new slate of those very mandates.

The idea of a federal voucher alone makes this a Washington intervention of historic proportions.

– Jay Bookman

230 comments Add your comment

240 more days

May 25th, 2012
4:02 pm

And while we’re on the topic of political outrages done to veterans, don’t forget that President Bush kicked all Category 8 veterans out of the system in 2005 (me included) and that the GOP tried to cut VA funding in HALF the following year.

If your health or problem is not service related, and/or you make more monry than the VA allows for “free medical care” then you don’t deserve it. The orignal content of the VA medical program was for service related health issues.
If your problems are service related, it is due you and the others, but not if not service related.

larry

May 25th, 2012
4:02 pm

Several of us have read that various GM dealers were claiming that they were closed down purely due to politics while O’s administration picked and chose winning dealers based on political contributions and party affiliation. Just more blatant corruption and crony capitalism.

What you have read is the dumbest thing i have read. I live in a small town here in NE Georgia that has TWO, yes TWO GM dealerships and neither one was even targeted to be closed down. And the men that own them are both card carrying Repubs. So that just blows that statement completely out of the water.

josef

May 25th, 2012
4:03 pm

ZamVet

It’s not complicated at all. Ask any teacher. “Just get the f out of the way and let me do the job you hired me to do.”

getalife

May 25th, 2012
4:04 pm

You know it is bad when Exxon makes an ad supporting Education spending.

Thulsa Doom

May 25th, 2012
4:05 pm

josef,

Well actually that’s the other reason though a lesser reason to me. I would like to see what subjects folks actually studied. How much math and science did he take? Did he take any business courses? How did he do in history? And not just Obama but any candidate really.

Thulsa Doom

May 25th, 2012
4:07 pm

Larry,

One anecdotal example does not a story make. There is a reason why a couple hundred dealers disagree with you. Let’s find out from them.

josef

May 25th, 2012
4:08 pm

THULSA

I’ve worked in the private and the public classroom. They produce much the same product. In the public school, the teacher bows to the government fat cow. In the private sector the teacher bows to the private fat cow. You honestly think you can flunk l’il lazy dumb ass junior whose Mama and Daddy are paying THAT much in tuition and leaving THAT much to endowment? Yeah, dream on…
And the same thing is at work in flunking l’il dumb ass junior in the public school. When Uncle Sam is paying THAT much and giving THAT much in endowment? Yeah, dream on…

Moderate Line

May 25th, 2012
4:09 pm

larry
May 25th, 2012
4:02 pm

Several of us have read that various GM dealers were claiming that they were closed down purely due to politics while O’s administration picked and chose winning dealers based on political contributions and party affiliation. Just more blatant corruption and crony capitalism.

What you have read is the dumbest thing i have read. I live in a small town here in NE Georgia that has TWO, yes TWO GM dealerships and neither one was even targeted to be closed down. And the men that own them are both card carrying Repubs. So that just blows that statement completely out of the water.
+++++
I do not know whether there was any targeting but a sample of two doesn’t really prove anything.

josef

May 25th, 2012
4:10 pm

RHULSA

“And not just Obama but any candidate really…”

Me. too. You think I’m going to hire a teacher without looking at his or her transcript? I don’t think so.

Thulsa Doom

May 25th, 2012
4:11 pm

“Where are those great investigative reporters of yesteryear ? You know, the “Woodward and Bernsteins” of today !”

They are kinda like the anti war protesters, code pink, the anti- Patriot act folks, and of course the anti-Gitmo folks. They all kinda just disappeared once O came into office. Funny how that happened.

larry

May 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

There is a reason why a couple hundred dealers disagree with you.

If the case was as you stated, wouldnt the two dealers here in town, who are card carrying Repubs, be one of the dealers they would try to close down.

Like i said, it doesnt carry water.

getalife

May 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

“Just get the f out of the way and let me do the job you hired me to do.”

Teachers vs government takeover.

I will support the teachers on this one.

JamVet

May 25th, 2012
4:13 pm

josef, LOL!

Again my academic career took place in a two room school house through grade six, grades seven through eleven in a Kansas town of 8,000 people and I graduated from a high school in Nebraska with about 200 classmates.

So I cannot even relate to the modern day monstrous bureaucracy and the many levels of politics involved.

It sounds hellish.

I just hope that there is some sizable number of kids out there who are determined to learn everything they can, no matter who or what obstacles are placed in their way.

Because really, isn’t that how life works anyway?

Thulsa Doom

May 25th, 2012
4:16 pm

josef,

Keep in mind that my sis is a teacher. My point is not about teachers themselves or the product they produce. After all I went to public school and had all of one crappy teacher in my 12 years. Not bad.

The teachers in public school at least when I went by and far did an excellent job. My indictment is not of them but of the bureaucracy, the U.S. dept of education, the inability to fire really bad teachers because of union rules in decaying big city school systems, etc. And my point to Adam is that generally speaking you don’t have these mountainous layers of bureaucracy such as the federal dept of education which in my opinion do nothing but add to the cost of education. And believe me. I hear it from my sister in law all the time.

Generation$crewed

May 25th, 2012
4:19 pm

Doggone/GA
May 25th, 2012
3:26 pm

NO Their Parents can afford it.

My parents made plenty of money to be able to pay for our college. But they told each of us if we wanted to go we needed to figure out how to pay for it.

All 3 of us boys went and graduated.

However in monetary terms I was getting far less help from my parents than many who were on full Pell.

Are you calling for forcing parents who can afford to pay for their children to go to college?
Even if the student earned the money thru a merit based program?

Thulsa Doom

May 25th, 2012
4:19 pm

Larry,

Not if the town is big enough to easily support both of them profitably. The complaint of some of these dealerships is that profitable dealerships that overlapped with less profitable but politically aligned dealerships were let go. That is the point. Whether its true or not we will find out.

Look before I leap...

May 25th, 2012
4:23 pm

“1-Several of us have read that various GM dealers were claiming that they were closed down purely due to politics while O’s administration picked and chose winning dealers based on political contributions and party affiliation. Just more blatant corruption and crony capitalism. ”

Then you and your buddies should be more careful about what you read. And the charges involved Chrysler dealarships, not GM.
This has been debunked again and again and again.

Even FoxNews came to the same conclusion:
“FoxNews.com: A preliminary study by FOXNews.com found that the data do not support the charges. Among the dealerships set to close, 12 percent of a random 50 selected for review donated to Republicans and 8 percent to Democrats. Of the dealerships remaining open, 14 percent of a random 50 selected donated to Republicans and 10 percent to Democrats. In both samples, the average size of donations was similar for both parties.”

Jm

May 25th, 2012
4:23 pm

Moderate line 3:49

That was a one line subtle smack down

Well done

davetv

May 25th, 2012
4:24 pm

MrLiberty @ 3:45 pm

If I didn’t make it clear- I only meant that we should strive to spend our taxes more like Subway rather than the way it is now. Drop the federal tax and increase state and local taxes. No total tax increase or decrease. Do that for a year or two and see how much more efficient the money can be spent when we have a body who has to look us in the eye and explain why he spent our money the way he did. For example, if our state decided we needed high-speed rail but all the money had to come out of the state budget (which took it away from job programs, street paving, etc) then they had better have the support of the people of the state and they’d better do it efficiently as possible and they better hire local folks to build it. If we don’t want high speed rail or money is wasted on it then we know where to protest and we know who to vote out of office. The way it is now, we get a “grant” from the fed govt. and we spend most of that on some study and then go into cost overruns and then nobody rides on the light rail. Oh well, it’s not like it was our money.

davetv

May 25th, 2012
4:35 pm

Supose there was a study that showed how much money is spent per child in public vs. private schools and also compared graduation rates, SAT scores, employment rates, etc.?

What if said study showed that private schools spend less per child yet produced better results?

Would those of you blathering on about government education being efficient change your minds about the subject? Would you shut your trap?

davetv

May 25th, 2012
4:36 pm

oops “suppose”

davetv

May 25th, 2012
4:51 pm

According to the U. S. Department of Education Institute of Education Services, Digest of Education Statistics 2009, the average tuition charged for all private schools in 2007-2008 was $8,549. The average elementary school tuition for that period was $6,733, while the average tuition for a private high school was $10,549.

Public school systems spent an average of $10,499 per pupil in fiscal year 2009, a 2.3 percent increase over 2008, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Public schools in New York spent more than any other state or state equivalent, with $18,126 per pupil in 2009. The District of Columbia ($16,408), New Jersey ($16,271), Alaska ($15,552) and Vermont ($15,175) had the next-highest spending.

Brosephus™

May 25th, 2012
4:59 pm

HDB

I’ve seen the panic when a shipment isn’t released fast enough. I can only imagine how much more intense it is when it involves purely financial transactions.

Look before I leap...

May 25th, 2012
5:18 pm

“I’ve seen the panic when a shipment isn’t released fast enough. I can only imagine how much more intense it is when it involves purely financial transactions.”

I worked for a major computer workstation manufacture in the Bay Area in the late 80’s.
We manufactured the systems in Milpitas but the monitors were made and shipped by Sony in Japan.
The monitors came in by ship, our dock agent verified the shipments, we wired payment and the monitors were released. Someone screwed up in Treasury one day and the wire did not go out. The monitors sat on the dock all weekend.

They had to fire people in waves the following Monday because we did not have enough security personnel to escort them all out of the building at the same time.

Brosephus™

May 25th, 2012
5:59 pm

Look before

Wow!!! I’m not surprised.

[...] offense against RomneyCNN (blog)On Education, Romney Seeks Distance from Obama — and BushTIMEAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Boston Herald -BusinessWeekall 3,179 news [...]

independent thinker

May 25th, 2012
7:16 pm

Best plan that is not discussed here is the profit making schools run by Romney’s son – No chance he would benefit from the latest Repub plan to get someone close’s hand in the cookie jar? Ever here of Halliburton or Carlysle group?

TGT

May 25th, 2012
9:05 pm

Speaking of education, looks like Massachusetts liberals could use a little more (or at least some conviction): Even though it has been clearly shown that Elizabeth Warren lied about her Indian heritage, a recent Suffolk University poll reveals that, Seventy-two percent of likely voters were aware of the recent controversy concerning Elizabeth Warren’s heritage. Of those, 49 percent said Warren was telling the truth about being part Native American; 28 percent said she was not telling the truth; and 23 percent weren’t sure.

It looks like the libs are so desperate that even when their candidate has been shown to have been lying for nearly 20 years to advance her career, they shrug their shoulders and look for the D on the ballot. After all, she’s still pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-man-made global warming, etc., right?

Mary Elizabeth

May 26th, 2012
10:30 am

“. . .let’s just acknowledge the basic hypocrisy involved in claiming to reject federal mandates on Washington and then proposing an entire new slate of those very mandates.

The idea of a federal voucher alone makes this a Washington intervention of historic proportions.”
==================================================

The federal government has been involved in education in the states since the Brown v The Board of Education decision, by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the previous “separate but equal” concept of public education existed. Federal government intervention changed that unjust system of educating our young, throughout the nation.

I have no problem with the establishment of a U.S. Department of Education in which education is given a concentrated focus throughout the nation and, in fact, that could be a beneficial focus, if handled appropriately. (It sprang from the previous Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare.) What I do have a problem with is the privatizing of education, throughout the nation and states, instead of maintaining public education. In a capitalistic country such as ours, it is the public sector which helps to balance the avarice of the private sector’s need for profit. With profit as the main incentive in education, that would mean that children would, ultlimately, be used for profit and teachers would be viewed as commodities to acquire that profit. Public education keeps that from happening. At its best, public education is based on service, not on profit. Public education should be improved from within; it should not be dismantled for private education.

Now to the hypocrisy within this plan. One must look beyond surface “spin” of reality, constantly, it seems, if one is to see into the real truth behind what Republicans claim to be true, and what is true, in reality.

The real truth, as I see it, in this educational plan of Romney’s, is to privatize public education throughout the nation. The powerful and very wealthy who financially back Romney’s campaign for president support this plan for privatizing public education in the states and across the nation. (ALEC has it as a major goal.) This will mean using public tax dollars for private interests and personal financial gain. (Savvy and unethical politicians have been stealthily getting away with using public tax dollars for their own private financial self-interests and personal financial gain for decades, but this practice should not continue, and it certainly should not exist within the arena of education.)

More specificially, if the federal mandate gives states educational power (to continue taxing its citizens within its state for educational purposes) but also gives states authority to use vouchers for private education, such as in private charter schools, then business magnates (on the national level) will come into the states and create their private charter schools, using state public tax dollars, through vouchers, to give them their profits.

I could write a chapter on how this turning of public education to private education, via public tax dollars, will hurt education throughout this nation, but I will simply say that it would be a sacrilege to every ideal Thomas Jefferson ever had regarding liberty, freedom of thought, and education in America. Heaven help this nation if Romney is elected President of the United States, for this reason alone, if for no other.

Adam

May 29th, 2012
7:51 am

Thulsa: Lets look at just one sector of the economy to see which provides a better product shall we. How about education? Sooooo Adam. Both the private sector and the govt do education. Which one produces a better product?

Sooooo Thulsa, why don’t you go ahead and show me a FACTUAL study that shows that either does better, statistically, than the other. Since your contention is that private education is better, it should be NO PROBLEM to back that up with facts, right?