Education, regardless of which side of the aisle you look at it from, is paramount in its importance to American society. It is the means by which we place ourselves into successful careers and a brighter future. This is something that I believe both Democrats and Republicans can agree upon. However, as a student, a political observer, a Reading Eagle correspondent on local government and a registered Democrat, I will endeavor to show why and how the Democratic approach to education, that of President Obama, is greatly superior to that of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
To demonstrate the superiority of the democratic approach to education, let us examine the records of both candidates, as well as the views of their parties, in regards to voting and the bills they have supported and passed. As a senator, President Obama voted for expansion of Federal Pell Grants in 2007, the grants that countless students at KU as well as in every other college and university rely on. As President, he has pushed programs that offer financial aid to students in need. These programs included bills that make it easier for students to pay back their college loans and forgive school debts after 20 years (or 10 years, if the graduate chooses a career in public service) because, as Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union address, “In the USA, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.” The educational views of the president agree wholly with the stances of the Democratic Party that supports him so avidly.
Now, I’d love to write a paragraph here in which I tell you about Mitt Romney’s plan for education. The problem is this: his stance on many other issues, no one is absolutely certain what his plan actually is. In some ways, his suggestions agree with Democratic values, such as improved school evaluation systems and career-advancement opportunities. However, in many other ways, he falls in fold with the Republican Party’s views. For example, The Huffington Post reports that Romney and his Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, fully support the cutting of the federal Head Start program, which prepares low-income students for school, by up to $2.7 billion. The Republican ticket would also cut grants and funding to students, such as the Federal Pell Grants mentioned earlier, by up to $2.2 billion. In a brief polling around KU’s campus, I found that the Romney/Ryan cuts would mean that many students would no longer be able to attend school at KU because of insufficient funds.
But allow me to make it clear for all of us who would take a devastating financial hit from Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s education plan. Romney has a suggestion for how you can make up the difference left from the grants that he would take away. In a speech at Ohio’s Otterbein Univeristy in 2012, Romney committed a gaffe that has been lauded as one of his worst, in which he told students that if you want to be successful by going to college or starting a business, you can just “borrow money from your parents, if you have to.” Because, you know, if you’re struggling to make ends meet in college, surely you have parents who are extremely wealthy—like Romney’s parents were—who can loan you everything you need. Sarcasm intended on that last sentence.
Now that I’ve explained the candidates’ education plans and how they affect students, I feel it necessary to delve into the plans’ effects on teachers and professors. Look, there’s a reason why teachers and professors are generally more leftward-leaning. It’s because Democrats seek to better the careers of teachers and the teachers unions, while Republicans will almost always err on the side of union-busting. Again, I will use the 2012 Presidential nominees to demonstrate this.
President Obama’s education plan for teachers and professors was first seen in his Recovery Act, which greatly held back the number of teacher layoffs made in response to the Recession. Now that the job market is steadily recovering, the President has set a goal of preparing 100,000 new science and math teachers over the next decade, as he explained to sciencedebate.org.
Countering the president’s plan, Romney’s plan would eliminate small classroom sizes, leading to larger classes and fewer teachers because, as he said in the 2011 Google GOP debate in Florida, smaller classroom sizes are only “promoted by teachers unions to hire more teachers.” He later stated that pay raises for teachers over their years of service and a sense of job security “have a deadening impact on student achievement.”
Ultimately, the points and quotes made by the Presidential candidates reflect the views of the parties that have selected them. It is up to the American voters to decide which view is more reasonable: the Democratic stance of making college more affordable and keeping teachers employed or the Republican stance of funding cuts, layoffs, and union-busting.
By AJ Simmons