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Romney takes page out of education playbook of President George W. Bush

Recycles the same failed policies that hurt students and public schools


WASHINGTON - May 23, 2012 -

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finally got around to talking about education on the campaign trail this week. Just yesterday he announced his team of education policy advisors and today at a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce he outlined his education platform.

“If you liked President George W. Bush’s education legacy, you’re going to love Mitt Romney’s education vision for America if he’s elected president,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Not only did he recycle many of the key education players from the Bush administration but he’s also pursuing some of the failed policies that hurt students and schools.”

Romney’s education plan, outlined today during his speech demonstrates a complete disdain for public schools and educators. His speech lacks a meaningful plan for parental engagement or providing what is best for students in need. There is no mention of priorities or realities about what is actually happening in classrooms across America.

Educators also are scratching their heads about the choices that Romney made in selecting his team of education advisors, which includes former Education Secretary Rod Paige. Paige once referred to teachers, bus drivers, custodians, and other educator members of NEA as “a terrorist organization.” His list of advisors also includes a state superintendent who pushed a host of bills protested by community leaders, parents and educators because he promised to increase class sizes, reduce the teaching force, replace teachers with mandatory online classes and erode educator rights. Other advisors come straight out of think tanks that have worked to undermine public education and what works for students.

“This is just another sign that Romney is not only out of touch with the realities and concerns of middle class and working Americans, but that he’s completely out of touch with what is happening in schools and classrooms across the country,” said Van Roekel.

Until this week, Romney had not taken the time to issue his education policy platform. And he hasn’t talked much about his education record as governor of Massachusetts. Spoiler alert: his record wasn’t anything to write home about.

As governor, Romney cut early education and pre-k funding, vetoed $10 million for kindergarten expansion, questioned the benefits of early education, and suggested Head Start was a failure. He has consistently supported policies like so-called school choice and vouchers, which make it harder for all students to receive a well-rounded education that prepares them to compete in a 21st century economy. Vouchers also drain scarce resources from neighborhood public schools. Romney also dismissed the importance of class sizes, whish are one of the most important indicators of how well children do in school. Personal attention from teachers is vital to a child, and it’s difficult or impossible to get that attention in a class that’s too large.

Romney also has fully embraced Rep. Paul Ryan’s dream-killing budget. “The Romney-Ryan budget is like a valentine to the richest one percent and a ‘Dear John’ letter to the rest of America,” said Van Roekel. “The Romney-Ryan budget would cause real pain to most working Americans. The Ryan budget would push 2 million kids out of Head Start and slash Pell grants for more than 9 million students seeking a college education. Romney’s policies aren’t about jobs and kids—they’re about killing the American dream.”

“Attacking educators and unions like NEA with gross exaggerations about its political muscle and with divide and conquer tactics is a distraction from frank discussions about Mitt Romney's education record as governor of Massachusetts and his full embrace of the Ryan-Romney dream-killing budget. We simply can’t afford to put the future of our students and our country in Mitt Romney's hands,” concluded Van Roekel.

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org.