Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney came out swinging Wednesday, blasting President Barack Obama's education initiatives in the first major policy platform announcement from the Romney campaign. The Obama campaign subsequently fired back in a call to the press, calling Romney's policies "vague" and "troubling."
Pushing the ideals of choice and competitiveness he picked up during his life as a business executive, Romney criticized what he called Obama's education policies of "more federal bureaucracy and more federal spending."
"America's federal system of government allows for a more dynamic approach to reform, with states serving as laboratories of democracy in competition with one another to provide the best education possible to their citizens," the Romney campaign's first white paper, "A Chance for Every Child," stated.
The paper continued, "The federal government must ensure that states embrace the basic principles of expanded school choice, high standards, and effective teaching while at the same time empowering them to carve their own paths toward excellence for all students."
Romney further explained his new policies at the Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit in Washington, a sign the former Massachusetts Governor is also out to court one of the president's key demographics of support - minorities.
Romney's voucher-like education program, which Obama for American (OFA) staff have called "troubling," would allow every low-income or disabled American children to have the opportunity to attend the school of their choice, Romney said. It would also drastically change public school administration in the United States.
"America's public education establishment shows no sense of urgency. Instead, there is a fierce determination to keep things the way they are," Romney said at the summit.
He added, "Here we are in the most prosperous nation, but millions of kids are getting a third-world education. And, America's minority children suffer the most. This is the civil-rights issue of our era. It's the great challenge of our time."
OFA National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt fought back Wednesday afternoon, telling press Romney is trying to apply "Romney economics to education. That's the last thing we need."
"Romney economics is all about the short term," LaBolt added. "It is unconcerned with long-term growth, competitiveness or an economy that is built to last."
LaBolt detailed Romney's past as the Governor of Massachusetts, claiming he pushed through the second largest cuts per pupil during his tenure, cutting 14,500 teachers, schoolboys drivers and policemen. LaBolt also said tuition at UMass rose from $12,000 to $16,000, surpassing the national average.
Building on Romney's "civil rights" remarks, OFA Policy Director James Kvaal concurred, stating, "President Obama agrees that we need to invest in education and investing in education is the central strategy in building an economy that's meant to last."
The Romney white paper also severely criticized the Obama administration for catering to special interests, i.e. teachers' unions, to the detriment of the American student.
"Mitt Romney's plan for education is exactly what this country needs to close the achievement gap between students nationwide," President and CEO of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options Julio Fuentes said in a campaign email. "Rather than catering to special interests, Mitt Romney has demonstrated he will pursue bold education reform that gives all students the opportunity to succeed."
Kvaal countered this statement by highlighting how Romney has long stood for widespread cuts in education and has proposed to downsize the Department of Education. He also highlighted how Romney supports the Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wis., congressional budget requiring 20 percent cuts to education.
The fight over education policies will continue Thursday as Romney visits a charter school in Philadelphia.
by RTT Staff Writer
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