What the 2012 Presidential Candidates Believe Education Should Be (by Guest Blogger Eli Creighton)

This election is going to be a big one. For many reasons, this election will decide the immediate and long-term future of our country. On one hand, we have a Democrat who has spent billions of dollars on education and has proposed new legislation to create competition between schools. On the other hand, we have a Republican who wants to reinvigorate No Child Left Behind and who also supports having states take over more educational issues.

Shedding Some Light: Differences in Funding Education & Methods of Reform 

I am not going to try and tell anyone who to vote for; I can merely shed some light on issues that I see. First, President Obama believes that it is difficult for education to be a top-down system. He believes that education reform should start at a smaller level like the states. Romney also agrees with this, stating on his website that states should take over programs like Head Start. The main difference comes in funding. Obama has started Race to the Top, providing billions of dollars in funding to states, which they can use at their discretion (with oversight). Romney believes that the federal government should provide a limited amount of funding to states, as they should be creating their own programs. Programs like charter schools and school scholarships should be backed more and more by corporations.

School Choice: Bi-Partisan Support

Both candidates believe strongly in the charter school system. President Obama has given millions of dollars to finance new charter schools and conduct research on their effectiveness. Romney promises support of charter schools and touts his backing of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition to underprivileged children to go to private school in D.C.

How Does the President Impact Student Loans?

Something we may care about as college students, Obama has made huge strides in reducing our tuition rates and has capped federal student loan payments at 10%, making it easier for students to get higher education and not be crippled by debt.  Unfortunately, while looking through Romney’s website, I was unable to locate any specifics of how he would reform higher education. He suggested Obama has spent billions of dollars, that we as a society don’t have, on education reform that hasn’t shown immediate results but does not have any other figures. Personally, I want a vision, I want plans, and I want results. I have seen results from what President Obama has done and they are positive despite what Romney says.

Resources: Be an Informed Voter

All the stances and opinions of the candidates can be found on their respective websites and in major news publications. I have provided a few links below. However, we must be wary of what each candidate promises. Do not be fooled by over generalizations and empty promises you know they can’t deliver on. I am voting for the person with a proven track record that shows positivity in the education sector. The choice is yours, just get out and vote!

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10 thoughts on “What the 2012 Presidential Candidates Believe Education Should Be (by Guest Blogger Eli Creighton)

  1. Eli,

    thank you for posting. Personally, I think I am in favor of Obama’s administration, whether as our president for the next term, or an advocate to improve the education system, because I have seen how much effort President Obama had put into our country, to make it a better place for everyone, including the things you have mentioned above. Especially during the down time of our economy, it’s very hard for any one leader to turn the rudder around, and direct the boat to the right way. Therefore, I think Obama was already doing his best, willing to take charge on this crackling boat after the Bush’s administration. However, Romney, a person that I am not very familiar with, nor do I intend to acquire more about him, was proposing the ideas of more corporate kickers and backing the reroute of public money into the private system, which I am sick of. The reason being that the idea of privatization of schools is just not my thing, because I don’t know if it’s being used for profit or nonprofit purposes, and I don’t think that every child can afford such privatization even with the subsidy from the government. Now my questions are: is it fair to others who don’t qualify to receive such tuition subsidy? What are other impacts caused by privatization of schools? Despite the fact that private schools generally score higher on the performance spectrum, I still have hope for our public schools, because I have attended very good ones!

    • About the rerouting of Public money into private, you may be interested in reading the New York Times article “Public Money Finds Back Door To Private School,” located at

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/22/education/scholarship-funds-meant-for-needy-benefit-private-schools.html?pagewanted=all

      This is a stupid program, and instead of offering ‘scholarship funds’, they should focus on just improving schools. By taking money away from Public schools, that means the students attending Public school, because there is no way everyone will be able to get scholarships, will have less money and programs available to them.

      Privatization of education is an awful idea. Asking corporations to fund education is like asking Coca-Cola to fund Health Care. Good for the corporations, bad for everyone else.

  2. Another resource…http://dianeravitch.net. Obama was nowhere to be found when teachers were fighting for the profession in Wisconsin, Chicago, etc. Race to the Top is a wolf in sheep’s clothing put forth by Obama, Duncan and their corporate paymasters. Student loan debt has skyrocketed and grad school loans are no longer subsidized. Just sayin’.

    • I feel similarly disenchanted with both major political parties when it comes to educational equity and social justice for all students in the U.S. Ravitch is a must-read, as is Lisa Delpit’s newest book. The model of privatizing education is very worrying and based more on our economic system than on the best interest of kids and teachers. Thank you for reading!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to sort through all of the statements on education and finding out as well as you can where the canidates stand on this issue. I think it is interesting that both canidates are so behind charter schools. I have been a part in a discussion on the matter of charter schools in a capstone class and they seem to be quite popular politically but a mixed bag when it comes to actual performance. Jeff: I was unaware of either of the points that you mentioned. That is alarming that he did not make a stance known when it came down to teachers striking. Also it is scary to think that grad school loans aren’t subsidized. Having grad students in mountains of debt will not be a productive form of economic growth. Zapoura: I agree with you about the alarming trend towards privitazation in schools. If a neighborhood’s citizens are having trouble “competing” when it comes to jobs and such what are the odds that their schools will suceed in a competitive school market?

  4. I am certainly disengaged with both major parties as well. I don’t think either have education as a top priority. However, I do believe that Obama is going to put it higher than Romney. That being said, Jeff makes a good point that Race to the Top is still not a great program. But it’s the best we’ve had, much better than NCLB. Right now, we really only have two choices and until more options are presented to us, I feel as though we have to choose the lesser of two evils. So I will vote for the candidate who will put higher than the other.

    • I guess i am glad that Obama was reelected. I spent my first election day glued to the television. A lot was at stake this year. I guess in regards to education you have to go with the guy who wants kids helped in inner cities and at younger ages. People talk that he was disengaged with teachers in some states, and maybe because there is just no money to give into their demands. In the end I voted for Obama because his stance on minorities. They need education too, including the minority of the poor, which is slowly becoming the majority.

  5. Eli,

    I agree with you in terms of trying a new program rather than trying to reinvigorate a program which hasn’t produced much success. Yes, sometimes the answer really is to re-work an old program, but as far as NCLB goes, I’ve only seen personally how it hurts students who could be making bigger progress but aren’t able to because of NCLB. And yes people may ask, well if these kids are so advanced why aren’t they taking higher classes? The answer to that is that because of our schools’ systems this isn’t an option a lot of the time, so these students who are ready to move on to other classes aren’t given the opportunity. And not only are those students who are brighter than the most not given the opportunity to move on sometimes, but as is pointed out in the documentary, “Waiting for Superman” it is actually the students who are in the middle who are actually most often left out/neglected because they are not the “failing” or “genius” students. And while I can see charter schools as being an amazing outlet for students who really have been given the short end of the stick because of their socioeconomic class, the neighborhood they live in, gender, ethnicity, etc., by in essence “outsourcing” kids all over the place we are taking care of those deemed at great risk with charter schools and those deemed geniuses with college courses offered either in their school or at a college, we are leaving those kids who seem to hover around average to do just that. So while charter schools have become a good solution we still need to look into fixing the schools that we have so that we don’t have kids relying on a lottery in order for a shot at a decent education and a better life.

    As far as Presidential candidates go then, I must say that from what you have presented and what little I know about politics I still will be voting for Obama over Mitt. Even though tuition at my school only seems to be increasing and I have had to take out more and more loans every year, I am putting my faith in him that he will live up to his word that eventually going to school won’t cost an arm and a leg. I think Obama is on the right track though by allowing states to distribute (with some oversight) where the funds from the government will go and I do not agree with Mitt’s proposal to have corporations fund charter schools and scholarships more because I feel like politics and hidden agendas could impede progress.

  6. I’m constantly annoyed by both candidates lovely-sounding, sugary soundbites about education. It’s always, “I’m going to make education a top priority”, or “of course we have to invest in America’s education”, but rarely do I hear specifics. Thanks for finding some! I think that Obama will be the best president overall if the choice is between him and Mitt “binders full of women” Romney. I think that Obama’s funding for research on charter schools is impressive, and that he genuinely wants to lower tuition rates for those of us who struggle. Most of all, I think that Obama will listen to (or at least give some thought to) experts’ opinions more than Romney would. I think Romney would help rich, white Americans and not the rest of us. Plain and simple.

  7. I am disappointed in the fact that everyone seems willing to hand our (and our children’s) education over to private industry. While better practices may emerge from applying a capitalistic view to education, the goal of making sure everyone receives the benefits from those best practices is doomed to fail on this system intrinsically. By privatizing education, there becomes a huge economic incentive for the schools and debtors to get more people into the education system – and then make sure they’re paying it off for the rest of their lives. Because of the current business culture, corporations and private enterprises have only a shallow obligation to society writ large – their true obligation is to the stockholder’s quarterly earnings. The value of having a good, affordable education to society spans decades. By privatizing education we are deliberately creating conflict between these two goals – which can only be bad for those pursuing an education now and in the future.

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