mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Romney Picks a Winner on Education

Although the economy will be far and away the deciding factor in the upcoming election, this does not mean that other issues will be ignored. The Romney camp is already preparing attacks on Obama’s record on foreign policy, and this week, the two campaigns have been trading barbs over education—specifically, the role of the private sector in K-12 schooling. The Huffington Post reports:

Romney argues that the public school system is broken and in desperate need of new ideas and new energy from the private sector. He is clear about whom he believes is to blame: A campaign policy paper calls public education “an antiquated system controlled to a disturbing degree by the unions representing teachers.”

Romney’s education plan is receiving the expected hostile reception from the MSM, but a new Gallup poll suggests that (surprise, surprise) the media may be out of step with public opinion on education. Poll respondents gave independent private K-12 schools top marks by a wide margin, with 78 percent believing that they provide an excellent or good education and only 37 percent saying the same of public schools.

Education could be another winning issue for the GOP this fall.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Luke Lea

    Haven’t seen the plan but I’m skeptical off the bat.

    In the first place education is an area in which the federal government has little influence to do good. No Child Left Behind illustrates that.

    But more important, education is not the source of America’s problems. Or, rather, not in the way our national politicians say it is. We actually do a pretty good job educating all groups in our society compared to their counterparts overseas. But only on paper (PISA scores, etc.) What we don’t do is provide appropriate education for the three-quarters of our population who provide what the Labor Dept. classifies as “non-supervisory wage workers.” The majority in other words. Unlike in Germany, we don’t teach them the skills they will need to become productive citizens.

    [Of course this won’t solve the problem of the underclass. But that is a social problem, not a problem the schools can fix.]

  • thibaud

    Sure, just like it was for the first self-described “Education President” in 1992.

    Curious to hear Mead’s take on Ryan’s headlong flight away from brave and bold libertarianism in his speech yesterday.

    The Tea Party wonder boy even declared himself a fervent supporter of the SAFETY NET – and with no ironic quote marks!

    Think someone’s running scared?

  • Mick The Reactionary

    “Romney argues that the public school system is broken”

    Mittens is wrong here.

    Test data, looked carefully, don’t show it at all.

    But conventional wisdom, while provably wrong, is repeated so often that it is treated like a fact.

    Both parties love to bash USA education results.

    Dems do it to justify more money for teachers unions and other educationalist fellow travelers.

    Reps use US low AVERAGE scores to get rid of unions via magic silver bullets of vouchers and/or charter schools.

    PISA, The Programme for International Student Assessment, is a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old students performance.
    It is coordinated by OECD (UN agency)

    US Government published latest results in

    Table R1 has results of all countries participating, Table R3 has USA results broken down by race of students.

    Summary of the results:

    Top 3 countries in reading are
    1.S Korea 539,
    2.Finland 536
    3.Canada 524

    Asian-Americans scored 541, if they were representing a country they would be in the first place.

    White non-Hispanic Americans scored 525, as a country they would be in the third place. They would be in THE FIRST place among large countries.

    Yes, education enthusiasts, white american kids beat all large Europian countries but Germany. And difference with Germany is virtually in a margin of error.

    Yes, Dems and Repubs, Asian-Am group beats S Korea and Japan.

    White-Am group is behind only a couple of tiny countries size of an average county.
    White American doofuses beat UK and France and Italy and Russia.

    Quite a shockah, no?

    Hispanic Americans kids outperform all Latin American countries, they even outperform Argentina and Uruguay, countries that virtually are all white.

    Asians and Whites represent about 50-60% of US high school students. The average scores of US are mediocre. But that is no excuse for slander of US educational system and teachers from Repub and Dem punditry alike.

    At worst one can accuse US education in failing to properly educate Afro-Am kids.
    I would not fault them for Hispanics performance as Am Hispanic kids perform so much better than the most advanced Latin American countries.

    US educ might not perfect, and it is Very expensive but at least 50% of students get results as good as any in the world.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    Researcher at U Chicago has detail analysis of PISA results:

    A deep and realistic analysis of PISA results for a true multi-ethnic Russian Federation by a Russian poli scientist:

    Contrast Karlin’s work with a hot-air pablum one usually gets from the US punditry.

  • thibaud

    More misdirects and distortions from Team Romney here.

    No administration in the last 40 years has been tougher on the teachers’ union, has implemented more sweeping reforms, has worked harder to improve badly-crafted or wrongheaded legislation, than Obama’s.

    The teachers’ unions positively loathe Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Whatever thunder may be left to the GOP, Obama and Duncan have done more to reform education than any pair of executive leaders in modern memory.

    Romney’s really getting desperate here.

  • Nancy Macnab

    Only parents can mobilize the necessary authority to shift America’s current dependence on the skewered agency of the public school. Just as current debates over education revolve around professional opinions, the pretense of professional educators engaging in neutral unbiased recommendations is deeply flawed. The ignored and silenced voices of parents are the amici curae without which no judgment can truly serve the interests of the children.

  • Steve Billingsley


    Do you even believe that?

  • Sam L.

    “…but a new Gallup poll suggests that (surprise, surprise) the media may be out of step with public opinion on education.” Nooooooo. Really?

    thibaud, any documentation on those claims? Bach when all the hoo-rah was going on in Wisconsin, the teachers and the unions didn’t seem to be complaining about Obama as well.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    I’m curious why team VMead is afraid of showing results of the United Nation sponsored educational tests.

    What good is a philosophy that can’t withstand even the sight of the simple facts?

  • Richard Treitel

    Much as I do admire Arne Duncan, he is the Gorbachev of the public education system. “A Nation at Risk” was published nearly thirty years ago, and public schools frankly have not changed much. It’s for a very simple Blue reason: when government provides a service, the service is run for the benefit of its employees, not its consumers. I should know. I lived my first twenty years in a country that nationalised industries as easily as it used to send gunboats to cow obstreperous foreigners, and the results were obvious for all to see.

  • Corlyss

    Is everyone here too young to have seen Woody Allen’s Sleeper? The movie’s premise was this nebbishy guy – Allen of course – was playing clarinet in a local pub when the entire world blows up and he goes into a coma for 200 years. When he comes to in the future, he asks what happened. The reply was “a man named Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear warhead.” Shanker was the very confrontational and militant founder and president of the NY teachers’ union. A quote often attributed to Shanker is, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

  • Bruno Behrend


    You overstate your case again. While I give Obama credit for some of what he’s done, his shutting down of the DC voucher program illustrates that he’s only a few steps of the teacher’s union line.

    His scads of stimulus dollars were wasted on bonuses for district bureaucrats, and his RTTT and Common Core are simply retreads of past efforts to “federalize” education.

    The unions were quite quick this year in endorsing Obama, and they know that the worst they will ever endure from the Dems is a few more charter schools.

    RTTT is a vast wasteland of bureaucratic reshuffling, and does little to benefit children (though I’ll take the Parent Trigger and other robust political reforms).

    Relative to the past, Obama gets a “C” from honest conservatives. Bashing Romney (and WRM) is a fool’s errand because Romney has not yet had a chance to fail or succeed.

    His idea of having some Federal dollars voucherized and following the child to better schools – skipping the corrupt big city districts – is robust enough to try.

  • Brian

    thibaud says:
    “The teachers’ unions positively loathe Education Secretary Arne Duncan.”

    Interesting take on the issue…

    And yet, it seems that despite the positive loathing, they still seem to rather prefer to support President Obama:

    Money speaks louder than words?

  • Ted Fitch

    It seems to me that the perfect candidate for Romney to appoint as Education Secty would be Condaleeza Rice. Some would say that would be a step down for her but that needn’t,t be the case at all. Appointing her to that position would raise the position’s status to her elevated level. Keeping in mind that she actually has the background and experience in the field of education to clearly validate such a selection. And she raised the issue dramatically in her speech last night.

  • WigWag

    No auditions necessary; this post proves it. Professor Mead is the Bach of shlock!

  • Jim.

    @Luke Lea-

    How in the world did those 3/4ths survive back in the 19th century?

    I’d like to direct you to some of Lincoln’s writings on running your own farm or business… he believed that it was a sign of an incomplete man to wish to be (or even tolerate being) someone else’s employee their entire lives.

    Independence is something just about anyone can handle, as long as they pay attention to a few rules about prudence simple enough for anyone to remember and put into practice.

    The “Wealth Effect” reckless stupidity and the Boomers’ ridiculous “do whatever feels groovy” ethos need to be expunged from American culture… we need to get back to our prudent, provident, and independent roots.

    Otherwise we’re headed down the same drain as Europe.

  • christopher


    I agree wholeheartedly that the parents at the local level can take control of the what passes for education in this country. Just this last week I was attending our local school board meeting where I called for a member to step down following his arrest on federal charges of lying to the FBI. After the meeting I was berated by a high ranking member of the teachers union for having the audacity to call for the resignation of one of the unions supporters.

    Its amazing that the politicians and the unions never place the children’s needs and concerns first. I understand a world were that would happen is in my imagination. Next to unicorns and fairies would be politicians and union members that care about something other than themselves.

  • thibaud

    Anyone remember the education policies of the last Republican president, the One Who Shall Not be Named?

    Does “No Child Left Behind” ring a bell?

    As with Obamacare’s reversal of Bush’s moronic trillion-dollar giveaway to the drug and insurance companies, so have Obama and Arne Duncan’s education policies sought to undo the damage created by Bush’s poorly-conceived reforms.

    Romney’s education ideas are half-baked. I have nothing against vouchers for desperately poor kids seeking to escape failing schools, but beyond that small, very limited circle, they’re bad medicine. They would waste many billions on parents who don’t need and don’t deserve the money.

    But then, fiscal irresponsibility is the core of Romney’s approach. So at least he’s more coherent than his absurd running mate, the guy who natters on and on about the road to serfdom and then beats his chest about his devotion to the largest government assistance program of all.

    Clown time for the GOP.

  • thibaud

    @ Bruno – “[Obama’s] scads of stimulus dollars were wasted on bonuses for district bureaucrats”

    What evidence do you have for this? The evidence I have, from California, is that the first tranche of the $6.7 billion in ARRA money devoted to K-12 education for the state was overwhelmingly paid out to offset state level cuts in funding for

    1) programs offering assistance for economically-disadvantaged children (about $2.1 billion), and

    2) special education programs (about $2.2 billion).

    About $400 million of the $6.7B went to school maintenance/construction efforts.

    Bruno, do you know what happened to the remaining $2 billion, out of the $6.7B?

    Well, it was diverted to non-educational programs – by the REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR of California. Care to guess where Gov. Schwarzenegger shifted that money, Bruno?

    I’ll clue you in: very quietly, out of the public eye, per his chief of staff, the GOP Governor shifted ONE-THIRD of the K-12 related stimulus money for his state to … the prisons.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Richard Treitel:

    ” “A Nation at Risk” was published nearly thirty years ago, and public schools frankly have not changed much. ”

    Why should they?

    They do a pretty decent job accordingly to extensive world-wide tests by UN, see,
    table R1 has results for all countries, Tbl R3 has USA results broken down by race.

    You, as educationista, should know those results by heart.

    Why don’t you educate yourself.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Luke Lea:

    ” Unlike in Germany, we don’t teach them [ed: blue color workers] the skills they will need to become productive citizens.”

    We don’t but nobody else outside of Germany does, as far as I know.

    While it is a shame that we cannot just copy a superb German system for vocational training, it is also true that their system is not free from problems.
    Especially a very real negative impact it has on late bloomers.

    If you could, talk to a German person who graduated from a non-elite program at non-elite university.
    Something like Engineering at Hayward California State or some such.
    You would be surprised how rigid and unforgiven German system could be for some decent students.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Nancy Macnab:

    “Only parents can mobilize the necessary authority to shift America’s current dependence on the skewered agency of the public school. ”

    While there are many problems and there is always a huge room for improvement, it is always better to start knowing basic facts.

    The most basic fact about US primary education is censored so strongly by Dems and Repubs alike that it is less known than Pentagon’s plan for invading Canada.

    US schools do a pretty competitive job accordingly to world-wide tests by UN, see,
    Tbl R1 has results for all countries, Tbl R3 has USA results by race.

    Anyone who is interested in education must know this fact.

    Why don’t you educate yourself.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service