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Presidential Candidates on Education
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2012 Issue Guide: Where the Candidates Stand on Education

With crucial ballot measures and a presidential election in 2012, the course for Ohio public education will be charted this year.

Our goal is to go beyond sound bites and talking points with research-based information, resources and thoughtful coverage and features from a pro-public education perspective. Compare where the candidates stand on education. Get the facts, based on the candidates’ public statements and their own websites. We’ll help you stay informed and get involved.

Because your participation is essential. Join in the conversation by leaving comments on Facebook, sharing OEA content on social media, signing the Voters First petition, contacting your legislators and sharing your stories.

To learn where the Obama and Romney stand on non-education issues, download this Candidate Comparison


Early Childhood Education NCLB/ESEA Vouchers Education Funding Higher Education
President Barack Obama

President Obama “supports a seamless and comprehensive set of services and support for children, from birth through age 5…he will
urge states to impose high standards across all publicly funded early learning settings, develop new programs to improve opportunities and outcomes, engage parents in their child’s early learning and development, and improve the early education workforce.”

President Obama believes providing a high-quality public education for all children is critical to our economic future. He emphasizes the “path to the American Dream depend[s] on providing every child with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy.”

“I want to take us in a new and better direction...This agenda starts with education... We cannot be satisfied until every child in America – and I mean every child – has the same chances for a good education that we want for our own children.” 2

President Obama opposes school vouchers. In 2011, when Congress was pushing to extend the controversial D.C. school voucher program, the President stated that “private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement.” President Obama also believes that vouchers are not a long-term answer to the educational challenges that face public schools. 3

The Obama Administration has made education funding its highest domestic priority:

  • The FY2013 budget provides the largest percentage increase to education.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved 400,000 educator jobs and the Education Jobs Fund saved an additional 150,000 jobs.
  • The Obama Administration strongly supports the American Jobs Act, which contains $30 billion in funding for states to hire and rehire educators. 4

President Obama has consistently promoted
affordable access to higher education for all
students. He has:

  • Signed into law $36 billion over 10 years to increase the maximum Pell Grant award and $2 billion for community colleges.
  • Led the charge to stop the student loan interest rate hike.
  • Signed an executive order protecting men and women who have served or are currently in the military from unscrupulous “diploma mills.” 5
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA)

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney cut early education and pre-K funding, vetoed $10 million for kindergarten expansion, questioned the benefits of early education, and suggested Head Start was a failure. Romney’s education plan ignores early education. 6

Romney “likes” NCLB because it “reins in national teachers unions” and calls for testing kids.

In his book No Apology, Romney wrote: “Former president George W. Bush was right to champion [NCLB] which requires states to test student progress and to evaluate school performance… Only the federal government had the clout, to force testing through the barricade mounted by the national teachers’ unions.”

Romney’s plan for school improvement is to bolster school report cards, and transform federal funding into vouchers that support private schools and tutoring providers. 7

As a 1994 Senate candidate, Romney pledged to vote for a means-tested school voucher program.

As a candidate for president, Romney said states should “make sure [they] have school choice.” He would take tax dollars from public schools to fund private for-profit schools at taxpayers’ expense.

Romney’s education plan calls for turning Title I and IDEA funding into vouchers leaving low income
students and students with disabilities to beg for necessary services. 8

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney slashed $2.3 million from special education, and $25 million from school readiness grants, early literacy programs and school meals for low income students.

As a candidate for President, Romney has pledged his support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which would cut funding for education and other priorities, such as cutting Title I by $2.7 billion and slashing Head Start access for 100,000 kids. 9

Romney has continually supported policies to cut funding to higher education and would support increasing the number of for-profit higher education institutions.

As Governor of Massachusetts, he proposed raising tuition by 15% and reduced higher education funding. As a result, student fees were increased by 63% to offset budget cuts.

Romney’s higher education plan calls for cuts in federal funding because he says it ‘helped fuel the problem,’ and will roll back student protection regulations in the for-profit and student loan industries that curb fraud and abuse. 10

  2.; Weekly Radio Address, 5/21/11
  3. Statement Of Administration Policy, H.R. 471, OMB, 3/29/11; Politico, 1/26/11
  6. MA Budget and Policy Center, 3/5/03; Mitt Romney Education Plan, 5/23/12
  7. Fox News, 1/24/08; Union Leader, 10/30/07; Detroit Free Press, 2/16/12; Romney, Mitt. No Apology, 2011, pp 234-235; Mitt Romney Education Plan, 5/23/12
  8. Boston Globe review of 1994 campaign issues,, 3/3/02; Florida Republican Debate, 9/22/11; Mitt Romney Education Plan, 5/23/12
  9. Gloucester Daily Times, 11/30/06; MA Budget and Policy Center, 3/5/03; The Note, ABC, 3/20/12; Education Week Blog, 3/22/12
  10. Boston Globe, 3/3/03; Boston Globe, 6/29/07; Ames Tribune, 12/29/11; Mitt Romney Education Plan, 5/23/12
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