Home > Uncategorized > Presidential Politics: No Discernible Difference

Presidential Politics: No Discernible Difference

May 30, 2012

Washington Post writer Jay Mathews reaches the same conclusion as I did regarding education policy as it applies to the Presidential election: Romney and Obama are mirror images of each other. In an article published on May 27 Mathews notes:

Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have been happily copying each other since a group of Democratic governors (including Bill Clinton) started the school accountability movement in the 1980s and several Republican governors (including George W. Bush) joined in.

He notes that Obama and Romney both champion charter schools, school choice, and “unions-as obstructionists” rhetoric. the only difference is in the parties’ positions on vouchers.  To Mathews’ credit, he accurately points out the key flaw in vouchers:

Instead the two parties pound each other with an education issue that makes them look tough to their most partisan supporters. That convenient weapon is vouchers, tax-supported scholarships for students who want to attend private schools. Obama has cut funds for a voucher program in the District so Romney embraces it. “I will be a model for parental choice programs across the nation,” he said in the speech.

The split doesn’t affect the bipartisan approach to schools much because vouchers have no chance of ever expanding very far. There aren’t nearly enough available spaces in good private schools to meet the demand. Any significant growth in vouchers would lead to heavy government interference in private schools and kill any allegiance conservative Republicans had to it.

To date I have been very disappointed with the Obama administration’s approach to “school reform”, whose centerpiece, Race to the Top, uses standardized achievement tests as the primary (if not sole) basis for school and teacher accountability. I’m hoping that the latest wrinkle in RTTT means some REAL reform in education.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: