In the first presidential debate Wednesday night, President Obama and Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney immediately dove into an often neglected topic on the campaign trail: education. The issue came up early and often, starting when both candidates mentioned education in their opening statements. Obama called for increased investment in public schools; Romney said the […]
In the first presidential debate Wednesday night, President Obama and Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney immediately dove into an often neglected topic on the campaign trail: education.
The issue came up early and often, starting when both candidates mentioned education in their opening statements. Obama called for increased investment in public schools; Romney said the U.S. needs to have “the best schools in the world.”
Obama repeatedly hammered on the idea that he has supported education spending, while charging that Romney would reduce resources for schools in a quest to reduce the deficit. To emphasize his point, Obama told the story of a Las Vegas teacher who had 42 students in her classroom for the first two weeks of school and 10-year-old textbooks to teach them with.
“That is not a recipe for growth,” Obama said. “Budgets reflect choices. And if we’re asking for no revenue, that means we’ve got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff. And the magnitude of the tax cuts that you’re talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people, but more importantly would not help us grow.”
Romney rejected Obama’s claim that he would cut education spending by 20 percent if elected – a figure extrapolated from his running mate Paul Ryan’s proposed budget – and decrease aid for college students. “I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college,” Romney said. “I’m not planning on making changes there.”
In the past, Romney has discussed making the U.S. Department of Education a “heck of a lot smaller,” although he has not specified what programs would be eliminated. During the debate, Romney called for getting rid of inefficient federal programs in all areas.
“I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they don’t pass it: Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” he said. One item on the chopping block would be federal subsidies to PBS, even though Romney said he loves Big Bird and likes the debate’s moderator and PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer.
Obama countered that he has ended 18 educational programs that were “well-intentioned [but] weren’t helping kids learn.”
The impact of teacher layoffs also came up, as Obama suggested that Romney would preside over more reductions in the teaching force. Obama’s stimulus package saved or created 250,000 teaching jobs, but there still have been hundreds of thousands of teachers laid off during his administration. Obama proposed an additional $30 billion to save nearly 400,000 teacher jobs in 2011, but the bill never passed. “Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. I do,” Obama said. “That is an investment where the federal government can help. It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference.”
Romney disagreed with that characterization. “I love great schools,” he said, noting that when he was governor of Massachusetts the state had the highest-ranked school system in the country. “And the key to great schools, great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state, should make that decision on their own.”
One of the few ideas the candidates said they agreed on over the course of the night was Race to the Top, Obama’s signature education program that prompted 46 states to adopt education reforms in a competition for federal funds. The Democrats largely ignored the initiative at the Democratic National Convention, but Obama mentioned it three times during the debate.
Romney said he agreed with “some” of the ideas in Race to the Top. But he took the opportunity to promote his own school-choice platform, which would allow federal funds to follow special-needs and low-income students to the school of their choice, whether public or private. There is no guarantee, however, that a school would have to accept them.
Obama tried to paint Romney as out of touch when it came to education, though – particularly higher education.
“Governor Romney, I genuinely believe, cares about education,” Obama said. “But when he tells a student that, you know, ‘you should borrow money from your parents to go to college,’ you know, that indicates the degree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle … just don’t have that option.”
Mitt Romney said Tuesday that the federal government would not aid the 45 states who adopted the Common Core State Standards if he is elected. Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy “I don’t happen to agree that every time there’s a good idea … the federal government should finance […]
Mitt Romney said Tuesday that the federal government would not aid the 45 states who adopted the Common Core State Standards if he is elected.
“I don’t happen to agree that every time there’s a good idea … the federal government should finance the implementation,” said Romney, who has opposed a set of new national standards which the Obama administration has supported. “I’m not willing to add more spending to get people happy with me.”
Speaking at NBC’s Education Nation, the Republican presidential nominee fielded questions directly from audience members about testing, local control and unions.
He told one audience member that he “didn’t believe” a poll that found parents in New York City supported the teachers union more than they did Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I know something about polls, and you can ask questions and get any answer you want,” he said.
Romney also repeated a charge he often makes about teachers unions: that they care about their members’ interests more than children. “The teachers union has every right to represent their members in the way they think is best,” he said. “But we have a right to say, ‘No, this is what we want to do.’”
Romney said he respected teachers’ right to strike, recently exercised in Chicago; his bigger problem was with the fact that the unions donate so heavily to political campaigns, mostly to Democratic candidates. It creates a “conflict of interest,” he said.
President Obama was invited to attend the event but declined, instead giving a speech at the United Nations on Tuesday morning. In a prerecorded interview, Obama, who didn’t comment at the time, weighed in on the Chicago strike, saying he could understand both sides.
“It was very important for Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel to say let’s step up our game,” he said of his former chief of staff. “It was important for the teachers union to say let’s not just blame the teachers.”
Both candidates, however, spoke highly of teachers and the teaching profession in general.
“I really get frustrated when I hear teacher bashing as evidence of reform,” Obama said. “They work so hard. They’re putting money out of their pockets into the classroom every single day. They’re not doing it for the pay.”
Even so, Obama expressed his continued support for merit pay. “I think that pay for performance makes sense,” he said. Romney agreed that the best teachers should be more highly compensated.
Research has shown that merit pay does not have an impact on student achievement. And yet Romney and Obama also spoke of letting research guide school reforms.
“When we have good data that shows how do you improve schools, it shouldn’t just sit in a drawer,” Obama said. “We’re going to tell you what we think works.” Romney cited research showing that class size and per-pupil spending do not have a large impact on student achievement.
Romney also focused on the importance of parent involvement, frequently mentioning that he attempted to make parenting classes mandatory when he was governor of Massachusetts.
When it came to specific early education programs, though, he praised a few privately-run groups, like the Harlem Children Zone, and touched briefly on federal ones, including Head Start, which provides early childhood care for low-income families.
The Obama campaign has charged that a Romney administration would decimate the Head Start budget.
“We can evaluate where those have been effective and less effective,” Romney said of Head Start and other public programs.
Mitt Romney said he doesn’t agree with his running mate Paul Ryan when it comes to Pell grant funding Wednesday at a “Meet the Candidate” event geared toward Latino voters. Ryan’s budget would reduce funding for Pell grants, which are given to low-income students to attend college, increase eligibility requirements and freeze the maximum grant […]
Mitt Romney said he doesn’t agree with his running mate Paul Ryan when it comes to Pell grant funding Wednesday at a “Meet the Candidate” event geared toward Latino voters.
Ryan’s budget would reduce funding for Pell grants, which are given to low-income students to attend college, increase eligibility requirements and freeze the maximum grant at $5,550, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. President Obama supports raising the maximum to $5,635 – about a 1.5 percent increase.
Speaking at the event, hosted by Spanish-language TV station Univision and held at the University of Miami, Romney went against his vice presidential pick. “I care about your education and helping people of modest means get a good education and we’ll continue a Pell grant program,” he said. “The Republican budget called for Pell grants being capped out at their current level. My inclination would be to have them go with the rate of inflation.”
The rate of inflation was 3 percent in 2011. Romney added that keeping the grants growing at the rate of inflation would help keep college costs down overall. He said that the “best thing” he could do for the University of Miami students, though, was to make sure they had jobs waiting for them when they graduated.
“The best thing I can do is not to [say,] ‘Hey, I’ll loan you more money. Here let’s loan you,’” he said. “I don’t want to overwhelm you with debts. I want to make sure you can pay back the debts you’ve already got and that will happen with good jobs.”
Romney also spoke of the need for merit pay to attract high-quality teachers into the profession and mentioned his school choice plan, in which low-income and special needs students would be able to use federal dollars to attend any school of their choosing – if the school wants to enroll them, that is.
“We have to change from a union-dominated setting to one where the very best and brightest are highly-compensated,” he said. “They become mentor teachers, we don’t have them go into administration, but they find teaching a wonderful profession for their entire careers.”
The Chicago teachers strike, which ended Tuesday after more than a week of protests and negotiations, has emphasized the power that teachers’ unions can have. Since the earliest days of unions, teachers have been fighting over some of the same issues in contention in Chicago: salaries, conditions at schools and tenure. A look at the […]
The Chicago teachers strike, which ended Tuesday after more than a week of protests and negotiations, has emphasized the power that teachers’ unions can have. Since the earliest days of unions, teachers have been fighting over some of the same issues in contention in Chicago: salaries, conditions at schools and tenure. A look at the history of unions and strikes shows how unions gained power, and their varying levels of success in past collective bargaining attempts across the country.
1857: The National Education Association (NEA) is founded in Philadelphia by 43 educators. The new union focused on raising teacher salaries, child labor laws, educating emancipated slaves and how the forced assimilation of Native Americans affected their education.
1897: The Chicago Teachers Federation is formed to raise teacher salaries and pensions. At this point, teacher compensation mainly consisted of room and board in the local community.
1902: Teachers, parents and students unite in Chicago for the first teachers’ strike, which occurs after a teacher is suspended for refusing to allow a disruptive child back into her classroom. According to journalist Dana Goldstein, the strike helps the newly formed CTF.
1906: In New York, the Interborough Association of Women Teachers fights for equal pay for equal work. During this time, teacher salary is based on position. Secondary-school teachers are paid more than elementary-grade teachers, and non-minority men are paid more than women.
1916: The American Federation of Teachers is created in Chicago as several local unions band together. The AFT focuses on salaries and discrimination against female teachers, including contracts requiring that they wear skirts of certain lengths, teach Sunday school, and not receive “gentleman callers more than three times a week,” according to American Teacher magazine.
1920s -1940s: Strikes are rare, since striking workers were often fired quickly and laws in some states make government worker strikes illegal. Unions focus on improving pay, improving conditions in school, and increasing federal aid to schools.
1950s: The NEA affiliates with 18 black teacher’s associations in states where segregation is rampant. By 1951, 98 percent of urban school districts are paying teachers based on professional qualifications rather than on the grade they teach.
1959: Wisconsin becomes the first state to pass a collective bargaining law for public employees. Union membership increases across the country as more states pass similar laws.
1962: The New York City teachers’ strike lasts one day, but shuts down more than 25 of the city’s public schools. Time labels it the “biggest strike by public servants in U.S. history.”
1968: Florida statewide teachers’ strike—More than 40 percent of Florida’s teachers strike over salaries and funding for classrooms. This is the first statewide strike in the nation.
New York City teachers’ strike—Three separate walkouts close schools for 36 days. The strike occurs after the newly created school board in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, dismisses mostly white and Jewish teachers from the majority black district. The UFT demands that the teachers be rehired. The strike ends after the state steps in, and the teachers are reinstated.
1970s and 1980s: Striking breaks out across the country. Although it is illegal in Minnesota at the time, a 1970 strike by Minneapolis teachers over low salaries prompts the state to enact the Minnesota Public Employees Labor Relations Act, which protects teachers’ ability to strike. Strikes also take place in Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Chicago, over pay, medical benefits and contract demands. “The same issues were involved, same picketing, same closing of schools, all of that is identical” to the issues in the recent Chicago strike, said John P. Hancock, Jr., a lawyer in Detroit who represented school boards in two Michigan strikes during this time. “It was really awful.”
1990s- 2000s: Laws restricting collective bargaining rights and the differences in contracts and salaries between districts have greatly diversified the role of unions in each state. Unions have taken stronger positions in political campaigns to support like-minded candidates. They have also been vocal about changes to teacher evaluations, an increased number of charter schools, and the introduction of merit pay, and still have the power to impact education reform rollouts in some of America’s largest cities, as was demonstrated in Chicago.
The teacher strike in Chicago, now in its second week, has become a national symbol in the ongoing debate about the future of public education in this country. Teacher union leaders and district officials reached a tentative compromise on Friday afternoon, after drawn-out negotiations over compensation, the length of the school day and teacher evaluations. […]
The teacher strike in Chicago, now in its second week, has become a national symbol in the ongoing debate about the future of public education in this country.
Teacher union leaders and district officials reached a tentative compromise on Friday afternoon, after drawn-out negotiations over compensation, the length of the school day and teacher evaluations. But when union delegates met Sunday, many were unwilling to vote in favor of the deal, because they either opposed it outright or wanted more time to go over the details.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seeking a legal injunction to end the strike in the nation’s third largest school district on the grounds that “it was called over issues that teachers are not legally permitted to strike about and that it endangers the health and safety of children,” according to The New York Times.
“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children.”
As the strike continues, parents, teachers, experts and advocates in Chicago and around the country are weighing in. Some, like former District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, take Emanuel’s side.
At the core of the Chicago strike are issues over tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Such measures are part of a national push to improve teacher effectiveness and something The Hechinger Report has been reporting on for several years. We’ve looked at how recent high-profile efforts to improve teachers are impacting the classroom and educators in states like Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Indiana as well as nationwide.
“We heard a lot of talk from union leadership about fewer students in each classroom, about improving training, and about the very real challenges teachers face. But by extending the strike tonight, the union proved that this wasn’t about addressing any of those issues,” Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a group that aims to mobilize parents and to serve as a political counterweight to unions, said in a statement. “It’s clear this was only about job security and compensation for union members.”
Terry Moe, a professor at Stanford University and author of Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools, wrote an op-ed for CNN similarly arguing that the strike—and collective bargaining in general—is harmful to Chicago’s school children.
“The purpose of the Chicago school system—and of the American school system more generally—is to educate children,” Moe wrote. “The way to assess collective bargaining is not to ask whether it works to bring labor peace. It is to ask whether it promotes the interest of children in a quality education. And the answer to that question is no, it does not. Not even remotely.”
Education historian Diane Ravitch argued last week on NPR, though, that the strike was a way to ultimately help children. “I think the union has a vision of a school system that has the kind of resources where children get what they actually need,” she said on The Diane Rehm Show Wednesday. “[The strike] has to do with all the specific issues, but with a larger vision of what’s the best kind of education for children.”
Teachers union members across the country have thrown their support behind their striking peers. Emanuel pointed to the Boston Teachers Union, which recently finished its own tense negotiations over a new evaluation system without striking, as an example the Chicago union should follow.
In response, the Boston union took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Sun-Times to publish a letter to Emanuel. “Thank you for mentioning our contract settlement, which came about as a result of a mutually respectful conversation between the parties,” the union wrote. “Perhaps you can learn from us—and begin to treat your own teaching force with the same respect.”
Saturday, teachers from Wisconsin, Minnesota and other states came to Chicago to lend their support to teachers in a rally.
And the union says it’s receiving a great deal of parental support as well. A poll released last week found that 55.5 percent of parents supported the union’s decision to go on strike, while 40 percent opposed it.
For other parents, frustration grew as the week went on. “Our kids were being used as leverage,” Chicago parent Humberto Ramirez told The Chicago Tribune. “I certainly don’t begrudge any benefits of salaries the [teachers union] has been able to negotiate, but [they] put so many people in a terrible inconvenience simply because they have this grand union agenda.”
Educators kicked off the New York Times Schools For Tomorrow Conference on Thursday morning by addressing a recurring question among teachers: how can the status and perception of the teaching profession be elevated? The talk soon turned to teacher salaries, and through the day, that topic came up, over and over again. Research has shown […]
Educators kicked off the New York Times Schools For Tomorrow Conference on Thursday morning by addressing a recurring question among teachers: how can the status and perception of the teaching profession be elevated?
The talk soon turned to teacher salaries, and through the day, that topic came up, over and over again.
Research has shown that teachers are the single most important in-school factor for affecting student performance, so attracting and keeping good teachers has become a priority across the country. But educators at the conference stressed that the strongest teachers may be leaving the field because of concerns over salary or the belief that teaching is not a respectable profession. And, they say, the field may not be attracting the strongest potential teachers for those same reasons.
“I want teachers to be treated like brain surgeons, and assume that every single day that they go into work is a challenging day,” said Ninive Calegari, panelist and president of the nonprofit advocacy group The Teacher Salary Project. “What offends me is that they then go home to financial stress, and that’s unfair and as Americans, we should be offended by that.”
As it stands now, the National Education Association reports that beginning public school teachers can be paid anywhere from around $24,000, which is the average in Montana (and the lowest in the country), to nearly $45,000, the average beginning salary in New Jersey.
Salaries also vary within states, depending on district pay-scales, experience and the teacher’s education level. In districts that have introduced merit pay, teacher bonuses are typically based on how students perform on standardized tests.
Linda Darling-Hammond, a panelist and professor at Stanford University who is outspoken on education issues, highlighted the disparity between U.S. teacher salaries and those in high-performing countries like Finland and Singapore. In those countries, teachers and doctors have comparable salaries, and teacher education programs are extremely selective.
In Finland, where only one in 10 applicants is accepted by teacher education programs, the teaching profession is highly respected and attracts the nation’s top college graduates.
“People respond to you depending upon how much money you make as far as the authority you have, the prestige,” said Brian Crosby, a panelist and co-chair of the English Department at Hoover High School in Glendale, Calif. “Teachers do not have the amount of salary they need to have the level of respect they deserve.”
The comparison to Finland and the issue of teacher salary kept coming up through the day.
“We are not Singapore, we are not Finland, we have a different set of circumstances,” said Kaya Henderson, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. “At the same time, we have to continue to hold these children to high standards.”
Some districts have seen salary levels directly affect their ability to attract and retain teachers. In Tennessee, Metro Nashville Public Schools this summer raised beginning teacher salaries by more than $5,000 a year, to $40,000. As a result, school officials said they had a flood of applications—over 1,000 for about 540 positions.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, in North Carolina, which has experimented in the past with bonuses based on test scores, was recently identified in a study as a district that has failed to keep enough good teachers. This year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg teachers, who start at $34,000, received their first pay raise in four years. New Superintendent Heath Morrison is also investigating how to raise morale and provide more support to teachers as a retention strategy.
But the teacher strike in Chicago, where the average teacher salary is $71,236, demonstrates that for many teachers, salary is only one critical issue. Chicago teachers are some of the most highly paid in the nation, but even the offer of a 16 percent pay raise over the next four years has not deterred them from striking over other issues, like teacher evaluations and job security.
While raising salaries may not be a main focus of education reform, several members of the panel suggested that it might be the best starting point when it comes to making teaching a more respected position and attracting quality teachers. “In order for our country to be successful in the future, we need to have college students want to teach the same way they want to get into medical school,” said Calegari. “I think that that standard would really protect the future of our country.”
The Chicago teachers strike, which entered its fifth day on Friday, could hurt Obama’s chances for re-election, analysts said this week. Chicago teachers went on strike Monday, after protracted negotiations over wages, length of the school day, health benefits and new teacher evaluations failed to yield a new contract for members of the city’s teachers […]
The Chicago teachers strike, which entered its fifth day on Friday, could hurt Obama’s chances for re-election, analysts said this week.
Chicago teachers went on strike Monday, after protracted negotiations over wages, length of the school day, health benefits and new teacher evaluations failed to yield a new contract for members of the city’s teachers union. (A new round of negotiations could end the strike by 2 p.m. Friday, however.)
This year, the Chicago Public Schools planned to roll out a new teacher evaluation system tying at least 25 percent of a teacher’s rating to student test scores. The district is ahead of a state law that requires new evaluations to be adopted by the 2016-17 school year.
Stricter evaluation systems for teachers have been a signature of President Barack Obama’s education reform efforts, but they have been hotly contested by teachers around the country.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney has tried to elevate the strike into a national political issue. He released a statement on Monday condemning the teachers unions and his opponent. “President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his vice president last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the president’s commitment to you,’” Romney said. “I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools.”
Yet, so far, President Obama has chosen to stay out of the strike in Chicago, citing it as a local dispute. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a brief statement saying he hoped “the parties will come together to settle this quickly and get our kids back in the classroom.”
Political analysts and strategists at the national level have suggested that the longer the strike lasts, the worse it could be politically for Obama. “There’s no doubt that this hurts President Obama,” Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and former official in President George W. Bush’s administration, told The New York Times. “He needs teachers to be energized and to go out and knock on doors and man phone banks for him. Right now they’re watching his former chief of staff go toe to toe with the teachers’ union in Chicago. This is not a position that the president wants to find himself in.”
But the Chicago strike is just the latest—if most dramatic—incident in a series of confrontations between teachers unions and the Obama administration. In particular, Obama has pushed for policies like merit pay and increasing the number of charter schools, which unions have vehemently opposed.
Several teachers who spoke with The Hechinger Report at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week said they had no problem overlooking disagreements with Obama in order to support him in his re-election bid. Romney’s plans, including his desire to expand school choice, were not an appealing alternative to them. And American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten praised Obama for not getting involved at a Chicago press conference, and assured The Report that she saw no conflict between supporting striking teachers and supporting the president.
Does the strike hinder Obama’s re-election hopes? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
President Barack Obama had barely begun his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday before uttering a word Republican nominee Mitt Romney didn’t mention until he was three-quarters through: Education. Obama addressed a handful of specific education goals, asking for help in recruiting 200,000 math and science teachers within the next 10 years […]
President Barack Obama had barely begun his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday before uttering a word Republican nominee Mitt Romney didn’t mention until he was three-quarters through: Education.
Obama addressed a handful of specific education goals, asking for help in recruiting 200,000 math and science teachers within the next 10 years and in improving early childhood education in the U.S. He also made a clear connection between education and a recovering economy.
“Help give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job,” Obama continued. “Help us work with college and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years.”
Later in the speech, Obama touted his record in both k-12 and higher education. “For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning,” Obama said, referring to the Common Core Standards.
That remark was the only allusion to his signature, controversial, Race to the Top program. In a competition for federal grants, states promised a slew of education reforms, including adopting the Common Core. Race to the Top, Obama’s largest k-12 initiative, however, has been missing from convention speeches.
The president’s speech included a dig at Romney’s “borrow money from your parents” advice to students, and continued his argument that education is a gateway to opportunity – and to the middle class – as it was in his own life.
“The government has a role in this,” he said. “But teachers must inspire. Principals must lead. Parents must instill a thirst for learning. And students – you’ve got to do the work. Together we can out-educate and out-compete any nation on Earth.”
The cheering crowd included over 200 delegates who are also members of the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teachers union. Despite disagreements with Obama over policies like merit pay and tying teacher evaluation to test scores, both the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers have thrown their support behind Obama.
“I really do appreciate how he talks about the value of education, the role it plays not only in the lives of the individuals, the young people who are being educated, but the role education plays in our economic development,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in an interview with The Hechinger Report.
Vice President Joe Biden did not focus on education, beyond telling his wife Jill – a lifelong educator – how proud he is of her work as a teacher. And the talk included two quick mentions of college cost and attainment.
On the final night of the convention, some speakers slammed Romney’s education track record and plans. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter argued that “Romney doesn’t get it.”
“He recently visited a school in west Philly and told teachers he knows more than they do about what works for their students,” Nutter said. “He said class size doesn’t matter.’
“Doesn’t matter if our teachers can’t give our children the attention they need, that doesn’t matter?’’ Nutter asked.
At the school visit, Romney had cited a study that found no difference in class size among different countries as well as his own survey in Massachusetts that found the same thing. “Just getting smaller classrooms didn’t seem to be the key,” Romney said.
Research has demonstrated a murky relationship between class size and student performance; some studies have shown that there is no significant impact. Large class sizes, though, remain a major complaint of parents.
Nutter also criticized Romney for vetoing a bill that would provide universal pre-k in the state. (Romney said it was too expensive and he wanted to wait and see the results of a pilot program first).
And Montana Gov. Brian Schwietzer charged that Romney cut higher education by 14 percent and sent college cost skyrocketing.
“That’s okay for those who can afford it,” Schwietzer said.
As governor, Romney had a plan to consolidate the state’s higher education system that was never realized. Fees at state universities did increase from $2,959 to $4,836 during Romney’s term. And, during the state’s fiscal crisis, the university system was hit with about a 14 percent budget cut, according to the Boston Globe.
Overall, higher education was once again given more attention than k-12 issues. For the third time, Democrats brought college students on stage to praise Obama’s belief in them.
Admiral John Nathman, surrounded on stage by veterans, also took the stage to praise Obama’s work to improve veteran access to higher education.
Representative Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and the actress Eva Longoria also spoke of college costs, taking out loans to getting grants and working to pay for college.
“I did whatever it took and four years later, I got my degree,” Longoria said. “More importantly, I got a key to American opportunity. Because that’s who we are — a nation that rewards ambition with opportunity.”
From the convention: Denise Juneau says Montana not interested in tying teacher evaluations to test scores
Denise Juneau, Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday to speak highly of President Obama’s views on education – even though she doesn’t always agree with him. Juneau, the first Native American woman to win a statewide election, also spent some of her speech talking about other ways […]
Denise Juneau, Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday to speak highly of President Obama’s views on education – even though she doesn’t always agree with him. Juneau, the first Native American woman to win a statewide election, also spent some of her speech talking about other ways Obama has helped Native Americans.
The Hechinger Report caught up with Juneau to find out more about what’s going on in Montana and what she liked and didn’t like about Obama’s first four years.
Q: Under No Child Left Behind, all states must have 100 percent of students proficient on state exams by 2014. The Obama Administration has been granting waivers to states to free them from penalties for not hitting this mark In return, states had to promise certain reforms. Montana didn’t apply for a waiver. Why is that?
A: We actually took a look at our data, even though the bar [of students that must be proficient on state exams] went up this year, we had more students and more schools jump over that bar. So right now we have great education outcomes in our state. We’re fine under the structure of No Child Left Behind. We certainly could use some changes. We’re waiting for Congress to act, which hopefully will happen shortly after the election. For now, we’ll choose the option of staying under that system.
One thing, it’s too much money for us. We’re doing a lot of state initiatives to improve our educational system, primarily around dropout rates. We have revised our state accreditation standards. We want to do it in a way that fits our state. As long as I’m superintendent, we will fight back as hard as we can against tying teacher evaluations to student test scores. And as long as that’s a piece of the policy or money that comes out of the Department of Education, we probably will not participate. That was part of the waiver. We were meeting the requirements. We adopted Common Core. We’re revising and creating a teacher evaluation framework. We’re addressing our low performing school issues. But it has that piece that we can’t buy into yet.
That’s such a central piece of Obama’s teacher effectiveness plans. Does that make it harder for you to support him?
We can disagree on policy — but the value of education, there’s the understanding there that it leads to economic growth. He has made investments in higher education. He understands the need for students to have aspirations and to reach those goals. We can, as a state, disagree with a lot of federal policies that are coming out or pieces of them but knowing that underneath it all, if there’s some flexibility that’s provided in the future around that certain issue, we’ll certainly be a player. Right now, I like his focus on struggling schools. I like his idea of raising the profession and having quality teachers. All of those things, I think underneath it all, we agree on. It’s just how it is carried out. The alternative, of course, would be far worse than what we struggle with now.
What has President Obama done for Native American education specifically?
He actually has an executive order on Indian education [signed in December 2011], which has great intentions in it. The idea of bringing agencies together at the top levels, so bringing the Department of Interior who has a bureau of Indian education schools serving Indian students as well as the Department of Education, labor, policy, bringing all those agencies together to start talking about how to address that structural, the federal responsibility to American Indians from their treaty rights from a long time ago. There is this federal obligation to Indians and part of that is in education. So his executive order that he signed is good. I’m excited about that. He’s appointed a senior policy person to carry out the executive order and we’ll see how that works.
Former President Bill Clinton praised President Barack Obama’s support of community colleges and student loan reforms Wednesday night, in a stirring speech that took on Republican attacks of Obama while praising the president’s record. Clinton highlighted the president’s policy that allows students to pay back loans based on income after graduation. “It means no one […]
Former President Bill Clinton praised President Barack Obama’s support of community colleges and student loan reforms Wednesday night, in a stirring speech that took on Republican attacks of Obama while praising the president’s record.
Clinton highlighted the president’s policy that allows students to pay back loans based on income after graduation. “It means no one will ever have to drop out of college again for fear they can’t repay their debt,” Clinton said. “This will change the future for young Americans.”
Four speeches heavily focused on education, and with a slew of peripheral mentions, the issue continued to hold its place on a list of President Obama’s achievements during the second night of Democratic National Convention.
In contrast, the Republican party devoted just one speech to education over all three nights of its convention.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt hit many of the same talking points, from merit pay to praising Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. The competition awarded states grants in return for promises to make certain education reforms.
And both Duncan and Hunt touted the President’s record in saving teaching jobs through his economic stimulus funds, with Hunt describing them as “recovery funds that literally kept our classrooms open.”
Duncan slammed Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, saying that their budget would cut education by as much as 20 percent. The bill doesn’t specify how much education would be cut, but does call for large cuts in domestic discretionary spending; education falls under this umbrella.
“In order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, Governor Romney will cut education for our children,” Duncan said. “That’s the difference in this election. They see education as an expense. President Obama sees it as an investment.”
Romney and Ryan believe that cutting taxes and eliminating regulations will spur job growth “by magic,” Hunt said.
“This is not a time for America to believe in magic,” he said. “This is a time to drive education forward.”
Hunt also talked about his own education record in North Carolina, noting that the state raised standards and increased teacher pay by 35 percent in four years. “Teachers have the hardest and most important job in America,” he said. “And we should appreciate them, respect them, and pay them well.”
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau hit the same message during her address, which also mentioned other ways Obama has helped Native Americans. Juneau, a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes, is the first Native American woman in history to win a statewide election.
“Teachers do the work that matters and we cannot thank them enough,” she said. “For some students school is the only place where they get a hot meal and a warm hug. Teachers are sometimes the only ones who tell our children they can go from an Indian reservation to the Ivy League, from the home of a struggling single mom to the White House.”
Many speakers, including Clinton, mentioned Obama’s efforts to hold down interest rates for student loans. This summer, as a provision to keep rates down was set to expire, Congress came to a compromise that kept them from doubling. Romney also supported this.
For the second night in a row, Democrats brought out a Pell grant recipient to speak, praising Obama for doubling money given to the program, which provides low-income student with grants for school.
“When you’re trying to pay for college, every dollar makes a difference and President Obama has made a huge difference for us,” said Johanny Adames, a student at Miami Dade College. “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to cut the Pell grants that made my future possible… If they don’t invest in my future, do they really believe in America’s?”
The DREAM Act, which Obama has steadfastly supported, also received special attention. The act, which Congress has voted down for more than a decade, would allow undocumented young people who met certain criteria to become eligible for permanent residency. This would allow them to get federal aid for higher education.
Obama circumvented Congress this summer with an executive order allowing these “DREAMers” to be safe from deportation. They still will not be eligible for federal loans and grants for education, however.
Obama did get credit for helping other Latino students attain their goals. “His education policies mean Hispanics will receive and estimated 150,000 more college scholarships,” said journalist and talk show host Christina Saralegui. “He is on our side.”
Unions in general were also singled out in a few speeches. “Many people forget… why we have safe workplaces, health care, the 40-hour week, middle-class wages, all the standards that most people take for granted. That did not just happen,” said Bob King, president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. “Strong unions and collective bargaining lifted millions out of poverty and built the great American middle class.”