Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obama v. Romney on Education

review by Jack McKay

Obama on K12 Education
Obama considers the Education Department's Race to the Top competitive-grant program, which encourages state-level school reforms, to be one of his crowning domestic-policy achievements. His budget for fiscal year 2013 includes $850 million for the program, down from its $4.35 billion level in the 2009 economic-stimulus bill. He has also pushed for tougher teacher evaluations based on student test scores, a controversial requirement for some Race to the Top funding. He backs theCommon Core State Standards Initiative, an effort to set uniform career- and college-readiness standards in all schools.
Romney on K12 Eduction
Expanding school choice, measuring school performance, and implementing teacher evaluations are the three legs to Romney's K-12 plan. School choice is the boldest of his promises. He wants to require states to give disadvantaged students open enrollment at any school, public or private; the plan would upend the current system in which communities dole out federal dollars to schools with the highest percentage of low-income or disabled students. He would require states to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools and to issue simple report cards on each of their schools. Romney's plan would eliminate the current law's "highly qualified" teacher-certification requirement and make block grants available to states that work to improve teacher effectiveness. 
Obama on Higher Education
Obama says that the United States should lead the world in college graduation rates by 2020. He has pushed to expand the size of, and access to, Pell Grants for students from low-income families, increasing the maximum per-student amount. Recently, Obama shifted attention to student loans, spending a week this spring advocating congressional action to prevent the 3.4 percent student-loan interest rate from doubling. Obama has launched an aggressive campaign promoting community colleges. He has also hit high tuition rates and warned universities that their federal funding could be reduced if they don't rein in costs.  
Romney on Higher Education
Romney's has promised to reintroduce private banks to the student-loan market, undoing a centerpiece of Obama's education plan that Romney says "nationalized" the market. To offset "massive increases" in the size of the Pell Grant program, Romney says he will refocus those funds on only the neediest students. He plans to scale back the Education Department's data-collection requirements and instead partner with the private sector to measure institutional success. Romney promises to unwind "complicated and unnecessary" regulations.  

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