That’s exactly what happened during Tuesday’s foreign policy debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. Education, a topic that is rarely mentioned during such public debates, was discussed numerous times during the last debate between the two candidates.
While the candidates spent most of the 90 minutes focused on issues abroad, significant references were made to domestic policy, including education. The most heated exchange came when moderator Bob Schaffer asked both candidates to explain how they see our role in the world. Below are excerpts from both candidate’s answers which referred to education:
Romney: “You can’t have kids coming out of
college, half of whom can’t find a job today, or a job that’s commensurate with
their college degree. We have to get our economy going.”
“…we’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers union’s going to have to go behind.”
“… let’s take an example that we know is going to make a difference
21st century, and that’s our education policy. We didn’t have a lot of chance
to talk about this in the last debate. You know, under my leadership, what
we’ve done is reformed education, working with governors, 46 states. We’ve seen
progress and gains in schools that were having a terrible time, and they’re
starting to finally make progress. And what I now want to do is to hire more
teachers, especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen
behind when it comes to math and science. And those teachers can make a
Now, Governor Romney, when you were asked by teachers whether or not this would help the economy grow, you said, this isn’t going to help the economy grow. When you were asked about reduced class sizes, you said class sizes don’t make a difference. But I tell you, if you talk to teachers, they will tell you it does make a difference.
And if we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of support that they need for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly skilled workforce. And the kinds of budget proposals that you’ve put forward — when we don’t ask either you or me to pay a dime more in terms of reducing the deficit, but instead we slash support for education, that’s undermining our long-term competitiveness. That is not good for America’s position in the world. And the world notices.”
- Gov. Romney: “…about education, because I’m — I’m so proud of the
state that I had the chance to be governor of. We have, every two years, tests
that look at how well our kids are doing. Fourth graders and eighth graders are
tested in English and math. While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth
graders came out number one of all 50 states in English and then also in math,
and our eighth graders number one in English and also in math — first time one
state had been number one in all four measures. How did we do that?
Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.”
- President Obama: “But that was 10 years before you took office.” “… And then you cut education spending when you came into office.”
- Gov. Romney: “The first — the first — and we kept our schools number one in the nation. They’re still number one today. And the principles that we’ve put in place — we also gave kids not just a graduation exam that — that determined whether they were up to the skills needed to — to be able to compete, but also, if they graduated in the top quarter of their class, they got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.”
- President Obama: “That happened — that happened before you came into office.”
- Gov. Romney: “That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. You got that fact wrong.”
Okay, maybe the candidates bickered more than debated education policy. But let’s be honest, it felt good to have education injected into the foreign policy debate!
Want more information about the education policy platforms of the two candidates and political parties? Check out CEC’s I Educate, I Participate: 2012 Presidential Election Voter Education Guide.which has the candidate’s positions on education, voter registration information, a polling place locator, classroom resources and more!