Mitt Romney’s New Research on Education Reform   Leave a comment

This week, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney published an article on Education Reform.  I have been reading it and am disappointed that it never mentions Common Core at all.  Here’s the full document.

http://www.mittromney.com/sites/default/files/shared/120523-Education%20White%20Paper%20FINAL%20for%20PDF.pdf

The words “common core”  or “Common Core State Standards” are absent from this document.  In other words, Romeny has no comment on whether they are good or bad, either academically or in terms of the sovereignty of states.  Strange, since Common Core is the top program being implemented –almost nationally– right now.

The forward to Romney’s document is written by Jeb Bush, which might explain the lack of comment on Common Core.  Bush does say, “What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”  Amen.

Yet, his statement is odd –this is from Jeb Bush, a strong proponent of Common Core. Truly, Common Core is a “prescriptive top-down mandate,” with its rules being handed down to states as if they were laws, by the trade group that copyrighted the standards, the NGA.  I do not know why Jeb Bush is for the Common Core.  Obviously, and unfortunately, Romney trusts Bush.  He let Bush write the forward to Romney’s white paper on education reform.

An Education Week report links to a letter that Mr. Bush sent to a subcommittee slated to discuss of legislation opposing national standards. Mr. Bush urged members to not even talk about it, because apparently, even considering that the Common Core might have dangerous downsides should be avoided, even among people who believe in individualism and liberty.

Most state legislators have no idea what’s going on with national standards:

“Legislators have heard of it, but not a whole lot of states engage legislators in discussion of the common core,” said [John Locke Foundation education analyst Terry] Stoops, who describes himself as a common-core opponent. “Some wanted to know more about it, because state education agencies or state boards of education didn’t give them much information, if any, on the common core.”

If this is accurate, it confirms exactly what I’ve been saying for months: Despite being told that the national standards drive is “state-led,” the people’s representatives have been frozen out of it… it suggests that national-standardizers’ strategy of sneaking standards in is working… The legislators need to be educated on what these standards entail, how they have been left out of the process by their state education boards, and the enormous amount of debt this will cost their state.”

The underlined portion, above, comes from the Missouri Education Watchdog site, and explains why perhaps Mitt Romney does not yet understand what Common Core is all about or have any comment about it.  Let’s all tell him what we think!

Jeb Bush supports Common Core so much that Bush does not even want legislators to debate it.  Why? I want to know.

Romney’s white paper concludes:

“Unfortunately, like a man with a hammer that sees every problem as a nail, President Obama’s policy response to every education challenge has been more federal spending. Increased spending on our K-12 public schools has failed to produce results, and increased spending is already one of higher education’s greatest problems. … he has succeeded only in pushing state budgets closer to the brink and pushing student budgets over it, all while handsomely repaying teachers unions for their political support. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney understands that more spending is the last thing our schools need. As a former governor with one of the most successful education records in the nation, he understands the challenges that states face and the futility of attempting to spend their way out of them.”

So, what’s in Romney’s thirty four page report, between Jeb Bush’s intro and Romney’s conclusion?

  • A Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA… [Details, please.]
  • To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. [This is fine if it’s not a federal or consortium-triangulated, national testing system. But we have no guarantees anymore, now that each state built its inter-facing longitudinal data system.]
  • Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts parents and students’ interests ahead of special interests. [Sounds good.]
  • What we need is leadership from state and federal policymakers to free public education from a paralysis that keeps our schools and students from reaching their full potential. [AGREED.]
  • Both parents and taxpayers should have detailed and timely information on school and district spending to ensure accountability for the use of public funds. [AMEN]
  • Romney will pursue genuine reforms that unleash the forces of innovation on our institutions of higher learning, pressing them to improve their education models and forcing them to compete against new entrants with entirely different models.
  • Less regulation, more innovation:  the hallmark of the U.S. economy is its constant ability to innovate, to develop and deliver new products and services, and to offer ever-increasing quality to consumers at an ever-lower cost.
  • A Romney Administration will eliminate unnecessary data collection requirements
  • Parents will have the information they need to hold school administrators accountable and make the right decisions for their children.
  • States will remain in control of implementing reforms.
  • These reforms will transform the teaching profession from one burdened by bureaucracy, focused on certification, and evaluated based on years of service to one that attracts the best and the brightest, builds crucial skills, and rewards effective performance.
  • A Romney Administration will work closely with Congress to strengthen NCLB by reducing federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to provide transparency and accountability. The school interventions required by NCLB will be replaced by a requirement that states provide parents and other citizens far greater transparency about results. In particular, states will be required to provide report cards that evaluate schools and districts on an A through F or similar scale based primarily on their contribution to achievement growth.  [I don’t like this one because I don’t like NCLB].
  • As a result of NCLB, standards, assessments, and data systems are light-years ahead of where they were a decade ago. [Really? Umm…]

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