Mitt Romney on Education

Last Updated : Jul 12, 2012

Summary

Governor Romney has supported charter schools and merit pay for teachers. He also supports standardized testing, merit based scholarships for students, and english immersion. He believes that states should control the funding, scope, and structure of education, but that the federal government has a role to play in education. One area that he cites for this is in standardized testing.

Record as Governor

In 2004, Governor Romney outlined that state's future education policy in 5 bullets. He wanted to fully fund full day kindergarten, grant $20 million for after school programs, make parent prep programs mandatory, set aside $5 million for grants for programs to deal with poorly disciplined students, and increase efforts to remove poor performing children who were disrupting the classroom. In addition, Governor Romney proposed a college program that gives students who score among the top one-quarter in the MCAS four years at the University of Massachusetts or any state or community college, tuition free, and those who score in the top 10 percent will be given four years of free tuition and a $2,000 annual payment to help pay for fees. This "Adams Scholarship" program did eventually go into place for top 25%. However, the scholarship does not cover fees and other items.

2008 Presidential Campaign

During the 2008 election cycle, Governor Romney participated in several forums, debates, and interviews that focused on education. At a speech in Lexington county, Governor Romney touted two facets of his education program as governor: english immersion and merit based scholarships. He stated that the previous practice of allowing students and parents to select to be educated in another language put that child at a disadvantage. Forcing the children into english only classes forced them to learn english, which helped them on tests, in other classes, and in the work force. Governor Romney also noted his program of merit based scholarships for those in the top 25% of their high school.

At a Presidential Debate in South Carolina, Governor Romney was asked about any positions that he had changed over time. He answered that question by stating that when he ran for the Senate in 1994, he advocated for ending the Department of Education. However, as Governor he saw that the federal government could reign in teacher's unions in some cases and work for the students. He also stated that he supported standardized tesitng as a method of determining school performance. The cumulative effect of these views was that he supported No Child Left Behind when it was initiated and he still supported it.

Late in 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by Big Think. When discussing education, he stated that he fought for testing for kids before they get out of high school, to make sure that kids are taught in English, and for school choice. He states that the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill saying "no more charter schools," and he vetoed that. He also touted the performance scholarships again. In addition to these things, he stated that he proposed that families earning $200,000 a year and less be able to save their money and pay no taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains. Doing this, he claimed, would allow parents to better save money for college.

In December of 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by the Des Moines Register in preparation for the Iowa Caucus. He again stated that although education was best controlled at the state and local level, there were areas where the federeal government played a positive role. These areas included standardized testing and helping to reign in teacher's unions. He also cited school choice as one reason Massuchetts was doing so well in education. He went on to say that he was proposing a $5,000 bonus to teachers in math and science, a $5,000 bonus for a teacher that can teach AP, and a $5,000 bonus for teachers who are deemed by their peers and by their principles to be in the top 10% of their schools.

2012 Presidential Campaign

In June of 2011, Governor Romney stated at a campaign event that one of the reasons that Massachusetts has been successful in education was the large catholic school system that assisted children with scholarships. He was asked about his previous support for No Child Left Behind in a forum held by former Governor Mike Huckabee in 2011 and reitereated his position that the federal government could be a force for good in education by reigning in unions. However, he also added that he looked forward to the day when the federal government was no longer required to handle those things.

In May of 2012, the Romney campaign issued a 35 page white paper on the topic of education. Much of the document addresses what Governor Romney sees as the failures of the Obama administration. The plan consists of four main sections; three of which deal with K-12 education and the fourth deals with higher education.

K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation

Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them. Romney’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

  • Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend. Make Title I and IDEA funds portable so that eligible students can choose which school to attend and bring funding with them. This plan will allow the student to choose from any district or public charter school, or a private school where permitted by state law, or to use funds toward a tutoring provider or digital course.
  • Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives. Require states to adopt open-enrollment policies for students receiving Title I and IDEA funds, and to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.
  • Build On The Success Of Effective Charter And Digital Schools. Amend the federal Charter School Program so that successful school management organizations can receive funding to replicate their efforts, serve more students, and take their programs to scale.
  • Expand The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program To Serve As A Model For The Nation. Reverse President Obama’s efforts to eliminate this popular and effective program. Increase funding and raise caps on participation to allow more families to benefit.

 

K-12: Ensuring High Standards And Responsibility For Results

Currently, there is little easily-available data for parents about their children’s schools. Providing better information for parents will empower them to hold districts and states responsible for results and, when combined with increased parental choice, give them more control over their children’s education. Romney’s reforms will improve transparency and give parents the information they need:

  • Reform No Child Left Behind By Emphasizing Transparency And Responsibility For Results. 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.

 

K-12: Recruiting And Rewarding Great Teachers

A school is only as strong as its teachers, but the most promising teachers often find it difficult to reach the classroom door or receive recognition for their efforts once inside. Romney’s reforms smooth the path for talented individuals to join the profession and shape the next generation.

  • Attract And Reward Great Teachers Through Increased Flexibility And Block Grants. Consolidate the numerous and overlapping federal teacher quality programs. Offer states flexible block grants if they adopt policies to advance and reward teacher quality, such as eliminating or reforming teacher tenure and establishing evaluation systems that focus on effectiveness in advancing student achievement.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Certification Requirements That Discourage New Teachers. For instance, the federal “highly qualified teacher” requirement, while well-intentioned, only serves to reinforce hurdles that prevent talented individuals from entering the teaching profession in the first place.

 

Higher Ed: A New Vision Of Affordable And Applicable Learning

America’s traditional community and four-year colleges are the heart of our nation’s higher education system. However, a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities. Meanwhile, other models of advanced skills training are becoming ever more important to success in the American economy, and new educational institutions will be required to fill those roles. Romney’s reforms spur the access, affordability, innovation, and transparency needed to address all of these challenges:

  • Strengthen And Simplify The Financial Aid System. Consolidate duplicative and overly complex programs within the Department of Education. Focus the Department on giving students and families with financial need the appropriate information about completion and persistence, loan repayment rates, future earnings, and other indicators to intelligently weigh the risks and benefits of the many options available to them, rather than limiting choices through punitive regulations.
  • Welcome Private Sector Participation Instead Of Pushing It Away. Reverse President Obama’s nationalization of the student loan market and welcome private sector participation in providing information, financing, and the education itself.
  • Replace Burdensome Regulation With Innovation And Competition. Encourage market entry by innovative new education models, emphasize skill attainment instead of time spent in the classroom, and support research and development. Repeal confusing and unnecessary regulations that primarily serve to drive costs higher, and replace them with common-sense reforms that ensure appropriate student outcomes.

 

2004 State of the State - Legacy of Learning

On January 15, 2004 Governor Romney issued his state of the state address for Massachusetts. In that speech, Governor Romney discusses his 5 point plan for education. This plan includes fully funded full day kindergarten, $20 million for after school programs, mandatory parent prep programs, $5 million for grants for discipline programs, and efforts to remove poor performing children. In addition, Governor Romney proposes a college program that gives students who score among the top one-quarter in the MCAS will be given four years at the University of Massachusetts or any state or community college, tuition free, and those who score in the top 10 percent will be given four years of free tuition and a $2,000 annual payment to help pay for fees.

 

Lexington County Speech

In February of 2007, Governor Romney spoke about his education policies in Massachusetts. He noted the english immersion program, and the merit based scholarship for those graduating in the top 25% of their high school class.

 

South Carolina Debate

In May of 2007, Governor Romney participated in the South Caroline debate. He stated that he supported the No Child Left Behind Program.

 

Big Think Interview

In November of 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by Big Think. On the topic of education, he spoke about initiatives that he had proposed to allow those graduating in the top quarter to attend college free of charge, the need for english immersion, and support for school choice and voucher schools. He also states that people making less than $200,000 per year should be allowed to save for college tax free.

 

Des Moines Register Interview

In December of 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by the Des Moines Register and spoke about the role of the federal government in education, standardized testing, and performance pay.

 

Manchester Town Hall

On June 3, 2011 Governor Romney gave a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was asked about state control of education versus federal control, and testing standards.

 

Huckabee Forum

In December of 2011, Governor Romney participated in a forum moderated by Mike Huckabee. He was asked about his previous support for No Child Left Behind and what his administration's role would be in education. He reitered his opinion that the federal government had a role to play in reigning in teachers unions.

 

2012 Education Plan

In May of 2012, Governor Romney's Presidential campaign issued a 35 page white paper on the topic of education. It was titled "A Change for Every Child : Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education." The Executive Summary of this paper is shown below.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

As president, Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. He will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. These policies will equip state leaders to achieve the change that can only come from commitment and action at the local level. He will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation and that, when they graduate, they can find jobs that provide a rewarding return on their educational investment.

K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation

Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them. Romney’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

  • Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend. Make Title I and IDEA funds portable so that eligible students can choose which school to attend and bring funding with them. This plan will allow the student to choose from any district or public charter school, or a private school where permitted by state law, or to use funds toward a tutoring provider or digital course.
  • Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives. Require states to adopt open-enrollment policies for students receiving Title I and IDEA funds, and to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.
  • Build On The Success Of Effective Charter And Digital Schools. Amend the federal Charter School Program so that successful school management organizations can receive funding to replicate their efforts, serve more students, and take their programs to scale.
  • Expand The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program To Serve As A Model For The Nation. Reverse President Obama’s efforts to eliminate this popular and effective program. Increase funding and raise caps on participation to allow more families to benefit.

 

K-12: Ensuring High Standards And Responsibility For Results

Currently, there is little easily-available data for parents about their children’s schools. Providing better information for parents will empower them to hold districts and states responsible for results and, when combined with increased parental choice, give them more control over their children’s education. Romney’s reforms will improve transparency and give parents the information they need:

  • Reform No Child Left Behind By Emphasizing Transparency And Responsibility For Results. 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.

 

K-12: Recruiting And Rewarding Great Teachers

A school is only as strong as its teachers, but the most promising teachers often find it difficult to reach the classroom door or receive recognition for their efforts once inside. Romney’s reforms smooth the path for talented individuals to join the profession and shape the next generation.

  • Attract And Reward Great Teachers Through Increased Flexibility And Block Grants. Consolidate the numerous and overlapping federal teacher quality programs. Offer states flexible block grants if they adopt policies to advance and reward teacher quality, such as eliminating or reforming teacher tenure and establishing evaluation systems that focus on effectiveness in advancing student achievement.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Certification Requirements That Discourage New Teachers. For instance, the federal “highly qualified teacher” requirement, while well-intentioned, only serves to reinforce hurdles that prevent talented individuals from entering the teaching profession in the first place.

 

Higher Ed: A New Vision Of Affordable And Applicable Learning

America’s traditional community and four-year colleges are the heart of our nation’s higher education system. However, a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities. Meanwhile, other models of advanced skills training are becoming ever more important to success in the American economy, and new educational institutions will be required to fill those roles. Romney’s reforms spur the access, affordability, innovation, and transparency needed to address all of these challenges:

  • Strengthen And Simplify The Financial Aid System. Consolidate duplicative and overly complex programs within the Department of Education. Focus the Department on giving students and families with financial need the appropriate information about completion and persistence, loan repayment rates, future earnings, and other indicators to intelligently weigh the risks and benefits of the many options available to them, rather than limiting choices through punitive regulations.
  • Welcome Private Sector Participation Instead Of Pushing It Away. Reverse President Obama’s nationalization of the student loan market and welcome private sector participation in providing information, financing, and the education itself.
  • Replace Burdensome Regulation With Innovation And Competition. Encourage market entry by innovative new education models, emphasize skill attainment instead of time spent in the classroom, and support research and development. Repeal confusing and unnecessary regulations that primarily serve to drive costs higher, and replace them with common-sense reforms that ensure appropriate student outcomes.

 

References

[1] Website: Stateline.org Article: Massachusetts State of the Commonwealth Address 2004 Author: NA Accessed on: 06/13/2011

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