Education Alternatives: The Romney Plan

I seem to be on an Education kick lately documenting and protesting the failure of basic education.  The farce with the SC “teacher” claiming a person could be arrested for disrespecting Obama is hard to beat. When I read that story I immediately thought, “How can Obama be disrespected when we have no respect for him at all? Subtracting from zero is still zero.”

If you have read any of my education posts you know that I think we have been disserved by the state and federal education departments and more so by the NEA and AFT. The education “system” no longer has a primary interest in insuring our children can read, write coherently with good grammar, be able to perform basic math and algebra, and have a basic understanding of history and our state and federal constitutions.

What we have instead are organizations whose primary interest is preserving their positions—not individual teachers, preserving the institutions, the government agencies, the existence of the education unions, and their pet programs. The irony is those pet programs usually have nothing to do with education.

Mitt Romney is the apparent ‘Pub candidate for President. He has released his plan to reform education. It appears that Romney’s plan is to provide parents with options…and alternatives to public education.  I can hear the unions scream now.

Mitt Romney today released his plan to reform America’s ailing education system. It goes big on school choice and parental empowerment and calls for increased transparency of results. Along the way, it admonishes education unions — and rightly so — for standing in the way of reform. — National Review

Romney’s plan includes the following.

  • “Proposes making federal education funding for low-income children and children with disabilities portable, effectively voucherizing Title I of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).”
  • “Expand D.C.’s embattled Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides vouchers to low-income children in the nation’s capital.”
  • “To receive the full complement of federal education dollars, states must provide students with ample school choice. In addition, digital learning options must not be prohibited. And charter schools or similar education choices must be scaled up to meet student demand.”

The Romney agenda hits the nail on the head in terms of the stranglehold special-interest groups — i.e., teachers’ unions — have on education. As Romney pointed out, the NEA alone contributes more to political campaigns than Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, and ExxonMobil combined.

Overall, the Romney plan is choice-driven and tilts heavily in favor of empowering parents. In contrast, President Obama’s “blueprint” for federal education would concentrate more control at the U.S. Department of Education and put the desires of special-interest groups ahead of the needs of families. — National Review.

The Romney plan is a good start.  Everything listed should be on his to-do list. However, I’m disappointed that his focus is on the institutions and says nothing about the actual curriculum. Classes in “self-esteem”, social engineering programs are not needed. In many schools, social engineering has usurped meaningful education. 

When schools promote students automatically without regard whether the student has actually achieved the necessary skill level for promotion, something is drastically wrong. Reforming the institutions are necessary. But if the end product—educated children with the necessary basic skills for life, is not changed as well, the entire effort is wasted.  My concern with Romney’s plan is that it is incomplete.

As a businessman I would expect Romney to understand that a business plan that does not include improving the product is doomed to fail. Education is too important to be allowed to fail as it has since the passage of LBJ’s Great Society.

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