One of the issues President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on is education reform, although they have different opinions about what that reform should entail. Their positions reflect a stark contrast in their differing philosophies. They have different beliefs about the role the federal government should have in public schools across the United States. Here is an overview of three different arguments Romney and Obama make about education reform:
One of the most pressing concerns of Romney, and the Republican party in general is that of school choice. Different methods of expressing that choice have been suggested, such as vouches and charter schools. At the basis of Romney’s argument is the positive effects of competition in creating excelling schools, just as he believes that the competition makes the free-market system great.
Barack Obama has a different take on school choice, arguing that it ignores the underlying causes of the problems within schools, such as poverty and segregation. As an alternative, Obama has spear-headed the “Race to The Top,” a federal program which encourages schools to develop innovations in education through monetary incentives.
Obama and Romney have very different views on reforming the federal school loan programs. During Obama’s first term, the federal government took over the management of school loans based on the idea that cutting out the middle man would translate into cost-savings. A major concern for the Obama administration is making higher education more affordable and not burdening recent graduates with a mountain of debt. Obama even points to his own struggles with paying off school loans as a motivating factor in reforming the loan programs.
In contrast, Romney has argued that the federal government shouldn’t be too involved in the school loan programs based on the idea that the private sector can do a better job. His main argument is that the federal government’s management of the loan programs will lead to less competition. He also opposes loan forgiveness for those entering the public section, which has been a main part of Obama’s attempt to reform the school loan system.
According to Romney, teacher unions are one of the main barriers to true education reform. He argues against teacher tenure and argues for tying student performance to raises for teachers and getting rid of teachers whose students don’t exhibit sufficient achievement on test scores and other standards.
Obama has argued for incentives, rather than penalties, to encourage student success. For example, schools who make significant improvements in test scores are given extra money, and teachers have the opportunity to earn incentive pay if their students succeed.