The Romney Education Plan
In May, Governor Romney introduced his education plan in a 35 page white paper. Unfortunately, that paper consists primarily (20 pages) of criticism of the Obama administration handling of education and not enough on the plan itself. It also fails to address the main problems in education.
Governor Romney's education profile shows his past positions on education. Despite criticism he has taken for supporting No Child Left Behind, he has remained consistent in his views in this area and makes common sense arguments. His primary view has been that education is best handled by state and local governments that are better able to adapt to local needs and resources and address local concerns. This is balanced by a role for the federal government in reigning in teacher's unions and helping to establish metrics for teachers and schools through standardized testing.
The plan can be described in four parts (my words, not Romney's). First, the plan allows students and parents the right to choose their own school through a voucher system in which federal and state funds are tied to the student and they select the school they want to attend. Second, it establishes a report card A-F rating system for all schools which then assists the parents in selecting the best school. Third, it attempts to make K-12 better by removing some certification requirements for new teachers and opens the door for merit pay and other items to attract better teachers. Finally, it reintroduces a private loan system for college. This was removed as part of the Obamacare legislation and interest on student loan debt is part of how that plan pays for itself.
Overall, the plan is pretty good. If Governor Romney is only able to establish a voucher system, then that alone will go a long way towards improving education. However, core problems still remain unaddressed.
One of the primary components of Obamacare was a metric established that insurance companies must spend at least a certain amount of their funds on health care and less on profit and bureaucracy. This same system should be established in schools so that more money is spent on teachers and facilities for students and less on administrators.
While Governor Romney supports standardized testing for students, he (and no one else) addresses the need to ensure that teachers are competent to teach the subjects assigned to them. Teachers should be required to pass yearly tests in the subject they teach with termination being the result of repeated failings. After all, if a teacher can't do algebra, he/she can't teach it. A basic comprehensive test of grammar and math skills should be required for all teachers with additional testing given in the field they teach. Pay for all teachers that perform well in teaching and testing could then be increased.
Finally, a chief problem with K-12 in many states is illegal immigration. The simple and unfortunate fact is that illegal aliens move into poor districts which are already overburdened. The added burden of educating in a new language combined with lessening the amount of funds available per student strains the school districts that can least manage the stress.
The increased number of low skilled workers introduced through illegal immigration also drives down wages for laborers in the US and increases the number of US citizens seeking an education to obtain the pay level needed to live in the US. This additional percentage of students seeking college combined with the children of illegal aliens has driven up the cost of college significantly in the last two decades.
Education will not be fixed in this country until immigration is addressed and illegal immigration is ended. Governor Romney has hinted at passing the DREAM Act and other forms of amnesty if elected. This could make education difficult to address in many states for a number of years.
The full plan is available in the profile linked above in the article. The executive summary is also shown there.