Last night’s first presidential debate tackled many domestic policy issues ranging from taxes to healthcare, giving President Obama and Governor Romney the opportunity to share their views and address those of their opponent.
Importantly, the debate also allowed Americans to hear a bit about both candidates’ vision for education policy, a topic that ranks high on the priority list of Americans, but is rarely covered in great depth in debates. Last night was different. We heard both candidates talk about education, and Governor Romney even spoke directly about special education. We hope you tuned in, but in case you missed it here’s a summary of the education issues that were addressed:
- Special Education: Governor Romney renewed his vision to issue vouchers for all students with disabilities who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when he stated, “I happen to believe -- I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or -- or Title I -- these are disabled kids or -- or poor kids or -- or lower-income kids, rather. I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice. So all federal funds, instead of going to the -- to the state or to the school district, I'd have go -- if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their -- their -- their student.” President Obama did not directly address special education, but more information can be found in his platform, here.
- Education Jobs/Funding: President Obama highlighted his initiative to hire 100,000 new science and math teachers and criticized Gov. Romney for a plan he claims will cut the education budget by up to 20%. Obama stated, “You know, this is where budgets matter because budgets reflect choices. So when Governor Romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it, we're having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference.”
However, Gov. Romney stated, “I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. I'm planning on continuing to grow, so I'm not planning on making changes there.”
- Education Reform: President Obama touted his Administration’s Race to the Top initiative which has “prompted reforms in 46 states”, according to Obama. These reforms include connecting teacher evaluations to student achievement; adopting college and career ready standards (such as the common core state standards); supporting expansion of charter schools, etc. (read more here). Gov. Romney proposed to grade schools to allow parents and the public determine which schools are excelling and which are failing. This grading system would allow parents to make an informed decision regarding where they want their child educated. Gov. Romney also mentioned he supported some, but not all, of the reforms supported by Race to the Top.
- Accessing Higher Education: President Obama stated that he wants to create two million additional slots in community colleges to help train individuals to meet the needs of the labor market. Obama also stated that he has enabled millions of additional students to attend institutions of higher education by cutting $60 million once spent on banks and lenders as the middle man between the students and their lenders. Gov. Romney stated that he does not have any plans to cut grants going to support individuals going to college.
Hungry for more, non-partisan information about both presidential candidates?! CEC will be closely monitoring the actions of both campaigns and will provide education highlights on this blog! Also, don’t forget to view CEC’s Voter Education Guide which includes the platforms of the candidates and political parties, a polling place locator, and classroom resources to get students ready for Election Day!