There was a debate last night between Obama’s education advisor, Jon Schnur, and Romney’s education advisor, Phil Handy. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/10/_in_a_substantive_one-hour.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
Education Week covered it. In brief, what was said:
“On the issue his campaign has been most silent on — the fate of the waivers the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan have granted so far from NCLB—Handy didn’t outright say Romney would get rid of them. But he broadly hinted at it.”
The waivers are “not about flexibility. They’re very prescriptive. We think they have led to a very unfortunate result: … many of these states are setting different accountability standards for different constituencies of children,” said Handy, a former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education. “I think it’s wrong.” What he’s referring to—different school performance standards for different groups of kids—is becoming a big policy issue in many states, and a messaging problem for the Obama administration.
…Another area that Handy shed light on was Romney’s plan to send Title I and special education dollars directly to parents as vouchers so they can use them at the school of their choice. Handy acknowledged that, since the federal government only pays an average of about 10 percent of a child’s K-12 education, Romney’s voucher plan would have to start small. States would be encouraged to match those dollars, and seven to eight would probably do so right away, he said.
“The federal government’s role should be to get this choice started,” Handy said.
…Handy’s points on school choice illustrated his overarching themes of the night: that the federal role in education should be limited to providing choice and transparent data on the quality of schools. And, it became clear, the role is also to not add to the deficit under a Romney presidency.
Handy reiterated a surprising pledge Romney made in the first presidential debate—that he wouldn’t cut education funding. Handy said the crux of the funding crisis is over entitlement programs such as Social Security. “You can easily hold public education harmless without impacting the creation of more deficits,” he said.
But Romney won’t invest more in education either, Handy said. That includes in areas such as common assessments to match the common core, or in early education. “You just can’t keep adding to the deficit,” Handy said.