Politics and Education

Last night I had the privilege of going to see the presidential debate down in Denver. Now before you get all excited and want to throw around “wow, you’re so lucky!” I want to include that I was not sitting in one of those plushy chairs in the auditorium. Nope, I spent the evening sitting outside in the grass, freezing to death thanks to the thirty five degree drop in the temperature, watching the debate on a screen. It was totally worth it though! It was a great experience and I’m so happy that I could (kinda) have been a part of this historical event. Besides what this debate meant to me, it was also had big….for education. Education ended up being a huge topic in this debate. I was really excited about this because when I heard Paul Ryan speak last week, education was not mentioned once. I understand that the economy and health care are hot topics which immediately effect voters, but hello, education is super important too! So when education came up last night, I began listening intently.

Regardless of which candidate you are voting for, the debate was a win for teachers and education. BOTH candidates promised to not make cuts from education funding and to hire more teachers. Sounds like a win for me! Education Week posted an article last night in response to the stances on education. Mitt Romney stated, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and… I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I want to make it more effective and efficient.” The Obama Campaign has attacked Romney on his educational plan because Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, put forth a budget plan which would cut education by twenty percent.

Obama responded by stating “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. I do.” According to him, the Romney-Ryan ticket would “gut” education; budgets reflect choices, so apparently Romney thinks education is insignificant. What Romney suggests is that local and state governments take a more prevalent role education, rather than the federal government. Obama intends to hire an additional 100,000 math and science teachers and Romney promised to improve worker training and to consolidate 47 different training programs in eight different federal agencies.

To me, it seemed like Obama’s plan to improve education is to just hire more teachers and further implement “Race to the Top”. Just hiring more teachers won’t improve American education. It’s not just about quantity here. What we need is better teachers, i.e. more training in teachers, especially in 21st century learning and more resources for those teachers. Romney, on the other hand, wants to publicly rank schools and let kids have more of a choice in where they get their education. This doesn’t seem like the best solution to me either. First of all, how are you going to rank these schools? Are we talking standardized test scores? Teacher evaluations? Funding? It’s important to know WHY a school is marked as “failing”. And why don’t we just use funding to make these “failing” schools better? Most failing schools are in low socio-economic areas and receive little funding. If we can’t give students the resources they need because of insufficient funding then they have low test scores. Schools do not always “fail” because of bad teachers, but because of low funding. It’s a vicious cycle. So why don’t we help out these failing schools and provide more resources for them and better trained teachers???

Although neither candidate’s plan for education is perfect, at least education has become a priority. And with both Obama and Romney promising to increase funding for education, last night’s debate was at least a win for education!
~Marie

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