It’s not every day when my parents turn on the radio and get to hear education policy top the national news headlines. But yesterday Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a big speech to explain why improving education was “the civil rights issue of our era, and it’s the greatest challenge of our time.”
Hardly a coincidence, I’m sure, but the Romney campaign also just released “A Chance for Every Child.” The document outlines his education policy plans, including:
- Allowing federal Title I dollars to follow poorer students to the school of their choice, an idea Colorado’s own Bob Schaffer touted more than a year ago;
- Requiring states that receive key federal dollars to enact open enrollment policies, hopefully along the lines of Colorado’s model policy;
- Encouraging replication of effective public charter and online schools — following the Digital Learning Now template, my Education Policy Center friends’ Colorado digital learning road map has some good ideas; and
- Expanding the effective D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was heading for defunct status before Congress compelled the President to give the school choice lifeline some nominal support.
The fact that Governor Romney would announce his support for such reforms is not terribly surprising, given the likes of some names (blog readers may be familiar with) on the campaign’s Education Policy Advisory Group. Names like co-chair Dr. Martin West, former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Dr. Paul Peterson, Dr. Robert Costrell, Dr. Bill Evers, and Idaho superintendent of public instruction Tom Luna.
Now look, if there’s one issue in which it might be hard to make a contrast between the two major presidential candidates, education policy would be it. President Obama has done an admirable job of touting and promoting support of public school options and needed reforms to teacher tenure and evaluation. But would he be willing to go as far as supporting all the above ideas put forth by Romney’s team?
Knowing that local policy and governance tend to work best, it’s also encouraging (but unsurprising) to see the GOP candidate say he wants to “reduce federal micromanagement” of K-12 schools and learning. With just over 5 months until the big election, I look forward to seeing more of the national debate and discussion on school choice and other key issues.