Romney calls for more school choice
May 23rd, 2012
02:22 PM ET
8 years ago

Romney calls for more school choice

Washington (CNN) – Calling the nation's falling educational standards "the civil rights issue of our time," on Wednesday Mitt Romney proposed dramatically expanding school choice for low-income and disabled children.

Romney told members of the Latino Coalition gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that millions of American children were "getting a third-world education," adding: "America's minority children suffer the most. This is the civil rights issue of our era."

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The GOP hopeful said low-income and disabled students should be able to choose to attend any public or charter schools in a voucher-like program, with federal aid following them to their chosen schools. The campaign also proposed allowing students to apply those federal funds toward private schools when permitted by state law, or to use funds for a tutor or digital course.

Campaign advisers told reporters the plan would not require new federal spending. They did not discuss the plan's effect on schools largely supported by that same federal aid.

In his speech Romney offered a harsh rebuke to teachers unions – suggesting those who sought to bar school choice might consider a different profession – and accused President Barack Obama of being beholden to the powerful union lobby.

"The president can't have it both ways," Romney said. "He can't be the voice of the disadvantaged public school kids and the protector of the special interests."

While he largely backed former President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind program, Romney did call for a simpler and clearer school report card that would be accessible to parents and the community.

On Thursday, Romney will visit a charter school in Pennsylvania.

The educational policy speech is the latest in a campaign initiative to spend each week discussing a new policy issue.

The Obama re-election campaign was critical of Romney's education proposals on Wednesday. Ben LaBolt, the campaign's press secretary, said Romney's remarks were "vague" and "detail-less" on a conference call with reporters.

"In order to pay for his massive tax cuts weighted to the wealthy, Romney would have to make massive spending cuts in our schools, higher education and our job training programs," LaBolt said. "Those are not the priorities the American people want in their president."

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Filed under: 2012 • Education • Mitt Romney
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. tykl

    The Obama campaign can't help but lace all their statements in class warfare. It's all they got. I'm just surprised they didn't throw in a Bush reference about how Obama has been buried under Bush's presidency.

    May 23, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Luke,AZ

    Gov Willard Robme is not a leader,at best he is a mediocre manager doing the bidding of the 1%. It's sad that the best the Republican party can come up with is a guy who's been running for president for 8 years. He has no core convictions.

    May 23, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Dean

    The Department of Education needs to be abolished. It is another Carter creation that has failed miserably. Because of the standards set by the Dept of Education, schools now teach students to pass the federal tests and they do not teach them the actual subject. We led the world in education do years ago.
    ps.....That was also before theachers had unions.

    May 23, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Class war fare is the trademark of the GOP. The president frequently has to remind baggers that we were in a near depression in 2008, and with no help from the GOP, it is taking longer to get out of the republican mess. Even McCain acknowledged that the economy under Bush was cratering.

    May 23, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Hugganoak

    The pugs gut public education funding, and then talk about it being below standards. Hilarious. Or pathetic, or maybe both.

    May 23, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Public schools appear to have more discipline that the prep schools that Mittens attended. Public schools do not gay bash, or make fun of the handicapped.

    May 23, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Tyrone

    I think Mitt would be a better fit for Prez of China, He sure does like to help their Economy & create jobs there!!!

    May 23, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If Mittens was president, I would wake up each morning wondering if he is on our side or on China's side.

    May 23, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Hugganoak

    There definitely is class warfare going on, the pugs have been taking from the poor and middle class and giving it to the rich for years. Look at the widely available chart on how those with high incomes have fared over the last 20 years vs. the poor and middle class.

    May 23, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. John

    Is Romney a Dem or Repub? He should not a conservative!

    May 23, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. once upon a horse

    so tell me why is it the first thing the GOP likes to cut in state budget is education? We have very good educators now in the unemployment lines, programs being cut at public schools which include lunch and breakfast programs along with PE and afterschool programs. Some teachers have 40 students to a room. And we the USA rank in the 20s world wide in education. And the Republicans don't seem to care I guess because it appears that their rabid base is very far from being formally educated.

    May 23, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Luke,AZ

    Where is planet Kolob ? Ask Willard, he might know.

    May 23, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Democrats want to keep the children of this country TRAPPED in their failing liberal run, union controlled failure factories. This monopoly on education is costing this country its future. The people that can afford to escape it run out the front door as fast as they can. The ones that can't afford it are sentenced to years of poor education in spite of more and money money being thrown at the problem.

    I guess the Democrats just don't want to lose control of the kids indoctrination into the leftist ways of the world.

    May 23, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. kayla

    you already said you did not care for the poor.
    etch a sketch moment again?

    May 23, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Critcal Thinking

    This cracks me up ;"Now we know that he would make deep cuts to education to fund tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires and enact the Ryan budget, which would make higher education less affordable by cutting Pell Grants and letting the student loan interest rate double," Romney said nothing of the sort. This adminstration reactions to good ideas indicate but one thing....PANIC

    May 23, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Independant Texan

    tykl, they don`t need too. Class warfare began under Reagan and accelerated with the Bush Tax Cuts............ And now the middle class is footing the bill.

    May 23, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. mcskadittle

    So they would provide a voucher that would fully pay for a private school education? without spending more, I find the hard to believe

    May 23, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    "Campaign advisers told reporters the plan would not require new federal spending. They did not discuss the plan's effect on schools largely supported by that same federal aid."

    In other words, as with all of Romney's plans, it's a no-go pandering promise that will never see the light of day. How I long for the days of candidate John McCain, who at least came across as somewhat creditable.

    May 23, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    tykl wrote:

    The Obama campaign can't help but lace all their statements in class warfare. It's all they got.
    Class warfare? Do you even know the history of that expression?

    Sorry, there is no class warfare on the liberal side of the aisle. Try the other side. It has been conservatives who brought the wealthy, the job creators, and unicorns into the political picture. It has been conservatives who said that we must protect them with tax cuts, or else the economic sky will begin to fall. It has been conservatives who in recent months and years have repeated used phrases like "protect the job creators."

    In other words, it has been conservatives who have held up job creators as a shield for the bogus economics. So, please don't complain when liberals take a few knocks at your phony shield and chase the wolves out of the chicken coop.

    May 23, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Some private schools cost up to $20,000 a year. How can Mittens give each poor child a voucher worth that much toward their education when public schools have to do the same job for less than $5000 a student?

    May 23, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    Fix the current school system; we don’t need put price tag on education

    May 23, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney says "I can drive unemployed down to 6% in four years". I say to him, Mr. Romney unemployment isn't something you drive and park in your "garage elevator" like your many cars.

    May 23, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC


    you already said you did not care for the poor.
    etch a sketch moment again?
    Actually, what he said was that he "wasn't worried", or was it "not concerned", I forget, about the poor because they had social safety net programs to fall back on. The hypocrisy is that he said on the same day the he repeated his often stated desire to cut and eliminate those same safety net programs.

    May 23, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    "Democrats want to keep the children of this country TRAPPED in their failing liberal run, union controlled failure factories."

    I hate to burst your bubble, but ALL of my children excelled in public school and all are now well adjusted adults, gainfully employed, with children of their own who are doing equally well in public schools. I would also add that my grandchildren have traveled the world many times over with their parents in their young lives. What they are not is bigots looking for a thrill by dinging others.

    May 23, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. vccove

    Lis Smith & the Obama campaign come off as so petty and desperate. All they're doing is trying to demonize Romney: "He'll suck kids dry, too, just so the wealthy get more rich, leaving kids' corpses behind." I mean, it's just so transparently corrupt tactics. Cory Booker said it right the first time, before he sold his soul- the Obama campaign is "nauseating."

    May 23, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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