By Jeff Bryant,ourfuture.org – In this week’s round in the nation’s presidential contest, education got tossed into the ring and slapped around by the opposing candidates and their spokespeople. Who won the round is anyone’s guess, but poor education got mauled in the process and tossed into the spit bucket.
The bout started with presumed challenger Mitt Romney unveiling his education agenda at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington. In his presentation, Romney declared American public schools to be in “crisis,” and he criticized President Obama for being “unwilling to stand up for kids” and unable to “be the voice of disadvantaged public school kids.”
The jabs continued later the same day with Romney, speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, declaring that the Obama administration’s policies had resulted in “millions of kids…getting a third world education” and accusing the president of not being “a champion of real education reform in America” like he, Romney, would be. He cast his proposals for education as a commitment to “the civil rights issue of our time.”
The Obama campaign countered these criticisms with their own about Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts where he cut literacy programs, caused teacher layoffs, and “vetoed a bill that would have limited class size in early-grades and one that would have created universal prekindergarten.”
But don’t be mistaken that the sparring campaigns were intent only on laying a glove on each other, because caught between the opposing campaigns, taking the brunt of the beating, were educators themselves and the reputation of America’s public schools.
At the outset of their arguments, both campaigns begin with a narrative that public education in America is in “crisis,” our schools are “failing,” and radical “reform” is the imperative of the day. And as for that full-throated devotion to the “civil rights issue of our time,” well, we’ve certainly heard that before.
Where the campaigns tried to score on each other was in the sacred realm of DC policy, where terms like “choice, accountability, and reform” are inflated with mythic technocratic significance by the Very Serious People. And left totally out of the melee was whether either candidate can come close to telling the truth.
Take that “education crisis” for instance . . . Read more…