Written by Mike Hall
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday outlined his proposals for education and, like his economic platform, Romney’s proposal centers on failed policies of the past while attacking teachers. He even says class size doesn’t matter.
While at a labor-management conference of more than 400 teachers, administrators and other educators working together on school reforms, AFT President Randi Weingarten said Romney had “squandered an opportunity to participate in a meaningful discussion of real education reform by attempting to disguise attacks on teachers and public education as meaningful policy proposals.”
Instead of looking to improve education for all children, he parroted failed voucher and privatization schemes that have not improved student learning. Romney’s proposal to take even more money out of public education and funnel it to private schools is absurd, at a time when school budgets already are being slashed to the bone across the country.
She pointed to the labor management collaboration as the approach that can achieve meaningful education improvement that focuses on students, “but Romney wants to divide the people who work most closely with kids every day from students, parents and the community.
What Romney fails to understand is that when teachers and public schools have the resources they need, students win. Romney is presenting America with a false choice: If you support teachers, then you must be against kids.
Click here for her full statement.
Earlier today, Romney presented his education plan to some real live teachers who, according to CNN, didn’t buy his size doesn’t matter theory. At a Philadelphia charter school, he stubbornly clung to his assertion that studies show smaller class size doesn’t equate with better student achievement. The teachers knew better.
Romney was pressed on his stance by a music teacher at the charter school who questioned the research Romney cited.
“I can’t think of any teacher in the whole time I’ve been teaching, for 10 years, 13 years, who would say that more students would benefit them,” the man said. “And I can’t think of a parent who would say, ‘I would like my student to be in a classroom with a lot of kids with only one teacher.’ So I’m kind of wondering where this research comes from.”
Romney cited one study done by a management consulting group. But CNN’s Kevin Liptak writes that the majority of research does point to improved learning from smaller classes, according to Education Week.
One large study in Tennessee, which was conducted over a nearly 30-year period, showed students who were placed in a smaller-sized classroom made measurable gains and performed better even when they were put back in larger classes.
Other studies show that smaller classes lead to higher achievement for minority students and students living below the poverty line.
This isn’t the first time Romney has dismissed smaller class sizes as important education tools. He voted class size legislation as governor of Massachusetts.
This post was originally published by the AFL-CIO.
Photo from Angelina Cupcake via flickr
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