Romney’s Education Agenda

Andrew Sullivan —  May 24 2012 @ 8:42pm

120523-Education White Paper FINAL for PDF

Romney's plan, released today, can be read above. Walter Russell Mead thinks Romney has the upper hand on education:

[T]he Democrats remain vulnerable on education. Teacher unions are unpopular, bureaucracies are unpopular, and national dissatisfaction with the educational system remains high. Democrats will find it hard to buck their status quo record, as well as their union supporters. Republicans, meanwhile, are on the popular side of the issue. Parental choice is a winner; generally in American politics the side advocating individual freedom has the high ground.

Jordan Weissmann has mixed feelings about the plan:

[Romney] does pledge to eliminate "duplicative, inefficient, or ineffective" aid programs to save administrative costs. As for Pell Grants, which help low-income students pay for school, he plans to "refocus" them "on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path…." In other words, he'd cut the Pell budget and the number of loan programs the government runs. Would that pressure colleges into keeping down costs? Maybe. Or it might just drive students into the private loan market. It would certainly make paying for school more difficult for the neediest families, and without an explicit mechanism that punishes schools for tuition hikes, its hard to predict how college administrators would react. 

And Dana Goldstein still has questions. Among them:

How about the youngest learners? High-quality preschool is one of the most effective interventions to build children's cognitive, social, and emotional development, yet only about half of American 3 to 5-year olds are enrolled in any kind of organized program. As my colleague Maggie Severns writes at Early Ed Watch, Romney hasn't uttered a word on the trail about pre-K, childcare, or full-day kindergarten, all priorities the Obama administration has attempted to address (with mixed success) through its Race to the Top program. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney actually presided over an increase in pre-K enrollment, yet he isn't bragging about this now, probably because pre-K is expensive.