Mitt Romney once again asserts himself over someone who knows what they’re talking about on the topic of school–someone with experience in the field. During an Education Nation summit in NYC, Romney sat down with Brian Williams, NBC news anchor. There was a question-and-answer session, during which an elected school board member (and parent) cited a poll showing that teachers’ unions are popular. Romney cut them off with nothing but his opinion, saying, “I don’t believe it for a second.”
You can find the results of that poll here.
Mediaite reported the following;
“Fundamentally, choice is one of the ingredients of improving our schools, but the key is really the teachers in the schools we already have,” said Romney. He said that rewarding good teachers should be a priority, as well as “sometimes recognizing that the interests of the teachers unions may not be entirely coincident with the interests of the students.”
“In New York City, the parents here support the union to protect our kids, three to one, over the mayor and the chancellor,” the questioner replied. “That’s a recent poll. So, to say that the unions are holding back our kids, as a parent and as parents in polls said the opposite. They believe that, actually, the unions are fighting for our kids and that a lot of the reform has been holding back our kids and against our kids. This is not me, this is coming from a poll of parents. And the Chicago…”
“I don’t believe it for a second,” Romney said, cutting the questioner off. “I know something about polls and I know you can ask questions to get any answer you want.”
“Jeb Bush stood up to the teachers unions in Florida, and that made a difference,” Romney concluded. “I also believe that Arne Duncan, by standing up for the kids, has made a difference. We simply can’t have a setting where the teachers unions are able to contribute tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians, and then those politicians – when elected – stand across from them at the bargaining table supposedly to represent the interests of the kids. I think it’s a mistake.” [all emphasis mine]
Here’s the video:
The thing is, Romney wouldn’t know what the parents would want in any given situation. He’s so out of touch with America that it’s amazing that he even realizes there is a forty-seven percent. Even those comments were wrong, in fact! While forty-seven percent of Americans might not make enough money to pay income taxes, they certainly pay a variety of other taxes and are anything but freeloaders.
Some background on Jeb Bush’s school plan, for reference; Jeb Bush wants to put a system in place that assigns letter grades to schools (A-F with the mysterious missing E), offer students vouchers for private schooling, don’t let them into fourth grade if they don’t know how to read, etc.
Some parts of his plan are very good; evaluating teachers–and determining salary–based on performance instead of seniority is an interesting idea to be sure. President Obama, in fact, supports parts of the plan.
However, there is a definitive “state empowerment” conservative ideal in place as well, because hard-line conservatives feel that the federal government has too much control in schools. This shows the complete misunderstanding of the global marketplace that has become a mark of the Republican party; having country-wide educational ideals is more important than ever! The federal government controls educational standards because it Constitutionally has power over those areas that receive federal funding (vastly paraphrased).
Washington Post reports:
Through two foundations he leads in Florida and his vast political connections, Jeb Bush is advancing such policies in states where Republicans have sought his advice on improving schools. His stature in the party and widening role in state-level legislation make him one of the foremost GOP voices on education.
“He is the standard-bearer,” said Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education think tank. “Those governors who are going to have religion on education reform are looking to him to be their mentor.”
In other words, increasing states’ rights with regard to education may allow creationist pseudoscience–such as the inane “intelligent design” hypotheses that are nothing more than creationism renamed–to contaminate the minds of the next generation with regard to science.
This is the type of education Mitt Romney is after. If he is elected, this is the type of government we can look forward to.