Election Cheat Sheet: Education
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
In the weeks leading up to the election, The Spectrum will be providing facts about the Democratic and Republican candidates’ platforms so students can make an informed decision in the voting booth on Nov. 6. Today, we will present both President Barack Obama’s and former Governor Mitt Romney’s stances on education.
President Barack Obama
Obama’s plans for higher education include doubling college students’ financial aid. He also wants to give incentives to schools that successfully slow tuition growth. He set a goal to cut tuition growth in half over the next decade to make higher education accessible to all Americans.
In 2012, Obama launched the Race to the Top program to recruit 100,000 science and math teachers over the next decade. He hopes it raises the standards for college and career readiness.
Obama’s “Pay As You Earn” program caps the monthly federal student loan payments. A student can choose to attend a college based on their career goals, not on the price of tuition. As long as students make their payments on time, they won’t owe more than they can reasonably afford every month.
In 2009, Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which allowed 9.4 million students and families to afford a higher education. The plan doubled the funding for Pell Grants. It also raised the maximum amount of each Pell Grant to $5,700.
Head Start is a 46-year-old federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five from low-income families by enhancing cognitive, social and emotional development. It emphasizes the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. Head Start promotes children’s growth in language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, physical health and social and emotional development.
In 2011, Obama said investments in early education are critical to the future competitiveness of the United States. He also said the government would, for the first time, require Head Start programs to meet certain standards to qualify for renewal of federal grants.
Obama also invested $2 billion in community colleges and proposed new partnerships between community colleges and employers. This plan includes training 2 million workers for already existing jobs.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
Romney’s education plan revolves mainly around the education system between kindergarten and 12th grade, but he also has plans for higher education.
He plans to give students who are “trapped” in “bad schools” the opportunity to get into better schools by giving parents information of schools’ performances. This will allow students to transfer to new schools. The government will fund colleges to support new students.
Romney also wants to make data about schools more available to parents to hold the school district and state accountable for the results of students. Ideally, these new measures, coupled with the ability for parents to make more choices, would give parents more control over education.
Romney also believes that a school is only as strong as its teachers. He plans to make it easier for talented educators to join the teaching profession by attracting and then rewarding them with block grants and discouraging unnecessary certification requirements.
In terms of higher education, Romney wants to make traditional community college and four-year universities more affordable and make the content taught at these schools more applicable.
Romney’s policies will allow private companies to compete with federal student loan lenders. He said the flood of federal dollars into colleges is driving up tuition and making immense debt a reality for millions of college students.
Allowing the private sector to grant student loans will strengthen and simplify the financial aid system because it will increase competition.