Sunday, May 27, 2012

Romney on Education

I just read the Romney campaign's "white paper" on education.  Absolutely nothing in it surprised me.

Central to Mitt's K-12 "reform" are vouchers.  He praises George W. Bush's DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which Barack Obama allowed to lapse.  It provided federal funds to allow poor DC children to attend "private" schools.  Needless to say, the only "private" schools poor families could afford, given the size of the scholarships, were religious schools — resulting in direct federal subsidies of religious education.

While the Romney model includes a lot of talk of poor children leaving poorly performing schools, reading slightly between the lines we imply that his idea is that every child should be able to take his or her share of public spending on education to the school of his or her parents' choice.  In some states, which offer "scholarship" programs for children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense, children are learning that Earth is 6000 years old, and that the fossil record reflects the aftermath of Noah's flood.  (I can't be entirely sure, but it looks like those stay-at-home moms "home schooling" their kids might also be able to suckle at the public teat.  It's certain, though, that those entrepreneurial types offering online "schooling" would qualify.)

Romney would provide block grants to states that eliminate teacher tenure and seniority rules.  He wants to remove teacher certification requirements, which might impede "talented" individuals from entering the field.  Needless to say, he is just as enamored of testing children to evaluate their teachers and schools as all the other clowns tumbling out of their clown cars into the political arena.  Of course the questions might be a little different.
Which of these is the approximate age of the Earth?
a. 4.5 billion years
b. a million years, give or take a million
c. 6000 years
d. a little older than grandma
As far as higher education is concerned, Romney's main concern is to re-privatize the college loan program.  Things were much better, after all, when the banks serviced loans made with federal money — with no bank funds at risk — and collecting all the fees and interest.  Romney's Wall Street buds clearly regretted losing that cash cow.

Finally, Romney calls for (you guessed it) deregulation of colleges.  The main thrust of that would be eliminating the Obama regulation that for-profit schools provide prospective students with data on what proportion of their graduates find gainful employment, in the field for which they trained, upon graduation.  Clearly, such regulation stifles entrepreneurs like those who created the "Draw Me" Matchbook School of Art and Late-Night Cable HVAC University.

Granted, I think Obama's basketball buddy Arne Duncan is a perfectly awful Secretary of Education.  On the other hand, things could get worse — much, much worse.

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