Mitt Romney Moves Left With Education Plan. That'll Never Last.

Categories: Schutze

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Oh, man, and me a total Obamatoid! Am I going to have to vote for Mitt Romney? But he's already way to the left of Obama on education and batting 1.000 on one of my favorite themes, the need to integrate schools by class, not race.

For years there has been persuasive research out there arguing that race and ethnicity are the wrong matrix if you really want to do something to improve education for poor kids of all races and ethnicities. If you're looking for the thing that really determines educational destiny, it's class, or, as we call it here in the American meritocracy, cash.

It's also the one castle that affluent Americans have fought hardest to defend. Since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, rich Americans have basically said, "You can hit us with all kinds of Robin Hood confiscation laws, you can have your way with our wallets, but do not ever, repeat, EVER, cross that school-district line."

Mitt_Romney.jpg
Mitt Romney is coming for your children.
That was why busing failed. The courts made the buses stop at the school district lines. White people went to one side of the line. Minorities stayed on the other. Segregation has grown, not diminished.

Guess what line Romney just jumped right over? Everybody from The New York Times op-ed page to Education Week to The Washington Post to The Christian Science Monitor is buzzing about a Romney education speech in Washington May 23 in which he proposed the nation's first cross-district public school voucher system:

"As President," Romney told a Latino group, "I will give the parents of every low-income and special-needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school. For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted. And I will make that choice meaningful by ensuring there are sufficient options to exercise it."

Reporters who have parsed the speech with Romney staffers all have come away agreeing that Romney is proposing a plan which will allow any student to choose from any school district or public charter school.

Most reporters who covered the speech didn't catch it right away. Romney spent a lot of time in that speech beating up on Obama for his ties to teacher unions, and that was what made the first round of headlines.

But when the education press went back over the road Romney had traveled in his speech, they realized there was an improvised explosive device buried in the shoulder: Even if Romney dials back and tries to soften this in days ahead -- and he will, probably today, because of the Times op-ed piece -- the fact remains that Mitt Romney just took a shot at the castle.

He's saying federal school dollars should follow the student, and the student should be able to carry those dollars across district lines to attend any school district where there's room for him.

The implications are huge. Go to the Texas Education Agency website for school performance reports, look up the Dallas school system and then look up Highland Park's public school system. In Dallas, 87.1 percent of public school students are "economically disadvantaged." In the Highland Park schools, the percentage is zero.

Richard D. Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation, called the "intellectual father of the economic integration movement," is one of a growing number of scholars who have been amassing evidence that economic difference is destiny in terms of school performance and that the best way to get a poor kid's scores up is to put him in a classroom with affluent kids.

There is also lots of evidence to show that the Great White Fear of lowered standards and diminished achievement in integrated classrooms is exactly wrong and upside down. My own alma mater, The University of Michigan, has been churning out research for years that shows that white kids, who come from the most segregated environments of all ethnic groups, get smarter when exposed to diversity.

If nothing else in the case of Highland Park, exposure to some diversity before they leave the bubble might help HP kids avoid that awful scene on the first day at Yale when they rush back out of the dorm to the curb where parents are still schlepping bags out of the rental car and squeal, "Daddy, Daddy, there's a black person in my room!"

Oh, well, anyway, isn't it wonderful to find the Republican candidate for president pumping this idea? Doesn't that mean loyal Republicans will have to get behind him on it?

Or does it mean ...? No! Tell me he's not going to open his campaign as the presumptive candidate with a big old loud belly-flopper of a flip-flop! That's seems like the one thing he can't afford to do. Nah. He can't do that.

So I think we've got him. No matter how much his campaign starts wriggling on this, a Republican candidate for president of the United States has just fired the first cannon shot across school district boundaries.

He's shootin' at the castle, man. I love it. Mitt Romney -- the man who stuck it to the bubble. That image alone is enough to make me swoon.

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Weaver Jannie
Weaver Jannie

as Frances said I am dazzled that anyone able to get paid doller5846 in four weeks on the internet. have you read this page lazycash42.c()m

Phelps
Phelps

Here's the unintended consequence I see:

If children are no longer shackled to a school geographically, then I see a lot of over-priced McMansions in Plano and Frisco (etc) suddenly becoming a lot, LOT less valuable, and a lot of sleepy bedroom communities in Dallas becoming a lot less depressed by not being shacked to Dallas schools.

In other words, this could inadvertently cause another housing crash, and more underwater loans.  I'm not sure our economy could withstand real estate being only worth what the real estate is worth.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

To me this idea seems fairly unworkable, and therefore, just another talking point.

Let's say we have a school district with 10 schools: 1 exemplary, 9 average, 1 substandard.  Each school can hold 1000 students, and there are 10,000 students that need to be split between them.

Using vouchers, every family tries to send their student to the exemplary school.  Well, the first 1000 get in.  Where do the rest of the students go?  To the other schools, which have absolutely no incentive to improve since the students are forced to go there, and the funds keep coming in.  Either that, or increased demand causes the schools to consolidate in order to provide for more students, and therefore evening out school performance across the board

Marcus D Cunningham
Marcus D Cunningham

You're missing one thing: the Fed. budget under Romney means massive cuts to domestic spending, including education. The federal dollars that would become portable will be meaningless. Plus, you can't just move thousands of student around without hitting capacity fairly quickly. Good schools get their student/teacher ratios jacked, and charter schools become regular schools. 

John
John

2 problems that let him get away with a meaningless statement.1.  School districts are under no obligation to admit a student that does not live in their district.2.  The Federal money will not pay the tuition for most charter schools, BUT it does give the upper class what they want, government money to help pay their kids' private school bill

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Not true.Charter schools already get tax dollars for each child.That is the child's "tuition".

The money should follow the child.Children should not be trapped in bad schools bc someone is afraid rich people might benefit, too.

Cujo
Cujo

I went to "magnet" public schools from Grade 4 on. That meant I had to commute about an hour or so each way daily to get to school through some of the roughest neighborhoods. The only thing I needed to qualify was high test scores and grades.  When the alternative was a substandard education due not to the quality of the teachers but the culture of the students and their families, it was a good thing to be able to get away from and worth the investment in commuting time. The price of this was doing some actual work and applying myself rather than fees my family couldn't afford to pay. Since I was a child, the impetus to learn came down to my parents and somewhat later, my own willingness. That's what's missing here, an accountability from the students and their families.

What I fear this proposal will do is spread out the students who are disruptive to those institutions who are established for students who desire a quality education and cannot afford exclusive and private institutions.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Well the good news is that Mike Miles is about to get an up close and personal view of the type of kids you had to go to a magnet to escape.

When he sees how about 10% of the kids (and their parents) behave, dress, and talk, he'll get the picture.

Also, many of the kids who are disruptive and/or below level are that way bc the school leadership--often chosen for all the wrong reasons--allows them to be.  Spread out in different places where school leadership must be better to survive, the kids would probably self-correct.

Cares About Kids
Cares About Kids

We already have a model for this.  It's called Higher Ed.

Every student can take their parental resources, along with state and federal loans and go to any college, large or small, private or public, 2 year or 4 year.  Higher ed has issues, but nothing like you see in urban K-12 education.

Louisiana recently passed a law providing vouchers to all students.  For vouchers to work, parents need to be informed on outcomes.  If a student goes to a private institution, they should take the same test that their counterpart in public education has to take and we need to make all results easily accessible AND understandable to parents.  Right now TEA produces gobs or information that no one can understand, and so they boil it down to misleading state ratings that tell you little.

Choice plus informed parents will create a much better system than we have today.

JimS
JimS

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No big problem if Mitt proposes sending black kids over the line into the Park Cities? You have got to be kidding. Who do you think lives in the Park Cities? It's those people who were burning school buses back in  the '70s. I want to hear from you Tea Partiers out there. How do you like Mitt's idea? Come on now, don't be shy.

Human Being
Human Being

Jim, the vast majority of people who lived in the Park Cities in the 70s aren't even there any more, and if they are they certainly don't have kids in school. Hell, most parents of today's HP kids went to college (and probably graduate school) in the 80s and 90s. Many people move into the Park Cities so their children can go to good schools and then they move away. That's what my parents did, just like the parents of many of my friends.

Furthermore, your assumption that everyone there is some sort of Klan member is ridiculous, although typical. Would people be "enthusiastic" about kids being bussed into the area for school? Probably not, since they are the ones paying the property taxes that built the school district. But to act like it is still 1950 in HP is simply dumb and/or lazy.

JimS
JimS

I'll take lazy, if it's OK with you.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

Call it class, call it cash, it still operates like this. If I care enough about my children, I will find a way to get them a decent education. If Mr. Romney's plan makes it a bit easier to do this, it will help only those parents that work hard enough to avail themselves of its benefit. Although I like the idea, I see no great social upheaval coming from that scenario.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

If your argument is correct, why during segeration, did Black students excell in school with used books,inferior old equiptment, pass me down sports equiptment and etc.? 75% went to college others started their own businesses.Remedial reading had about 42 students totaly there was no Special education teachers worked with slow to learn students and they learned to the best of their ability.Intergration was about equal education for ALL.Black teachers were highly educated and took the neccessary time and effort to teach kids regardless to their financial background.If a kid was from a low income family teachers would make sure they had clothes to put on at school after shower in PE department lunch and breakfat was provided the schools took care of their own not the government.

Phelps
Phelps

schools took care of their own not the government.

You answered your own question.  Rather, black folks took care of their own rather than being wards of the state.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Sadly, those days are gone.  The far left has spent the better part of 5 decades teaching us that there is no need for us to 'take care of our own', the government owes it to us to take care of us.  The far right has spent those same years figuring out how to wring the most money possible from the Nanny state.  Neither extreme is going to fix things, and the middle, the moderates, are all to busy doing something productive, like going to work, making a living, to fix it.  If it will be fixed, it will be because parents and teachers who give a damn start demanding some sort of accountability from schools, not because a political program hands out vouchers.

justafewfacts
justafewfacts

This has already been tried in Milwaukee. It didn't accomplish a thing. For the money that a family would get for a voucher, really good private schools are not an option because they still cost way too much and private schools usually use tests for admissions. Most kids in Dallas would not pass the tests.There is some believe that private schools would just spring up and be wonderful schools if vouchers were an option. That has never happened any more than charter schools currently offering really good options.If vouchers were the key to better schools, then why haven't section 8 vouchers bloomed everywhere? It's the same idea that private sector wants loads of poor folks or their kids and is so willing to offer great schools/great living if only a voucher is waived in front of them. Charter schools have not exactly offered a lack of nepotism or better education for many kids.As far as Mitt is concerned, he also announced that having big classes would make education better. And Highland Park does not have to admit any student not living in their boundaries, voucher or not.

JimS
JimS

I don't think you get it. Under the Mitt plan, Highland Park absolutely would have to admit students from outside its boundaries, by law. Federal law. Big Bro. So now you've got a Republican candidate for president coming at you as both Big Brother and the Nanny State. Isn't that some kind of cross-dressing? It's the thing I'm starting to love about Romney. Beneath that gel-crusted haircut, he's so terribly vulnerable and totally flip-floppable -- the rich kid who just wants to be loved. It just moves my heart, and it also makes me want to borrow money from him.     

Phelps
Phelps

How is one government agency telling another over-bearing government agency what to do "Big Brother and the Nanny State"?  That's like calling me a tyrant for telling my dog where he can and can't shit.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Mitt has always been a little bit right of left and left of right.  It's called being a moderate, willing to weigh both sides of an issue and the pros and cons therein before you make a decision.  A moderate stance doesn't always lead to the best outcome, nor does it magically create more likable candidates, but it does create a better informed person in most cases. Politicians used to hate moderates, too wishy-washy.  Now they call us 'Independents' and court us with a passion.  Your right and left wing shoutboxes (Limbaugh, especially) still can't stand moderates, which is reason enough in my book to be one.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Interesting points.So what will work?

Marcus D Cunningham
Marcus D Cunningham

Here's a start: Romney will boast about how Mass. leads the country in international testing because of school choice. That's when you break out this report:http://www.massinc.org/Researc... 

There was an Ed. Reform bill passed in 93 that increased district funding across the board, among other things. What happened? Statistically significant progress among the lowest funded districts. The full report (or at least the exec. summary) is worth reading, but what you won't see in the measures taken or suggested is school choice.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Jim, the school voucher idea challenges the idea that schools are a utility.  That there's nothing special about schools.  Private or public, the voucher idea rejects the notion that schools are institutions that must be made to work for all. 

I don't presume to have a clear answer to this.  However, what you marvel at in Romney's speech is nothing new.  The suggestion that vouchers would allow you to not only change schools, but to attend private schools is old, and does indeed cross district boundries---as private schools clearly aren't within the district.

Another mistake you make is thinking the Federal contribution is the most important.  I don't know the percentages, but I understand that property taxes are the most substantial funder of schools; particularly in TX.  My dad likes to say, "no pay, no say;"  and that may be the chink in his proposal.  This proposal sounds like an unfunded mandate, and again, ignore the two principle funders of education, property taxes and states.

Now, again, the problem with this proposal, is the same as the old problem with vouchers.  The poorest can't use them.  The better proposal is my RENT CARD.  This would get the gov't out of subsidized housing projects.  It would really allow people school choice, as they aren't stuck in some projects on the wrong side of town.  The subsidy would go to the districts.  And, the supply and demand decisions are atomized, the market is reinforced by leaving these decisions to individuals.  

Phelps
Phelps

Federal contributions are indeed a small part of their funding.  The problem is, they are so over-extended on bureaucracy and boondoggles that they can't risk even the single-digit percentage of their revenue that the feds represent.  They are so boxed in by mismanagement that they have no margin to refuse.

JimE
JimE

The demonization of conservatives from the left is starting to turn my stomach.  Do you seriously think that Republicans don't want minority kids to get an education?  That we have this hidden motive to keep them in bad schools?  That's crazy.  Money is not the difference between DISD school kids and Plano school kids.  The difference is parental involvement, or the lack of same.  There is nothing being taught at Plano HS that you can't learn at Madison HS, but you have to want to learn.  Plus, exactly how many good teachers do you expect to line up to teach at some of these DISD schools, and risk their lives?  Hint to the left, get involved in your kids education daily, check their homework and their attendance record, and get your kid under control. You would be shocked at how mych you can improve a school by doing so, and it would be free!

Jay
Jay

I imagine Romney announced this policy to box Obama into a corner on these issues. Obama must strongly oppose this plan or risk upsetting his teacher's union support. School vouchers and school choice are the mortal enemies of teacher's unions. As long as they have a captive enrollment, tenure and a union to fend off accountability, they have job security and little incentive to actually educate.

GregMarcydaGama
GregMarcydaGama

Your comment belies a crass misunderstanding of why people go into debt to get a degree and then enjoy the art of teaching. Name ONE teacher you ever had or know NOW that you think fits this bill. Then, work against that ONE, but to paint them all as slovenly union slouches is a disgrace to the good teacher who tried and failed to educate you on non-prejudicial generalizations. ~ / ~

Phelps
Phelps

Jay claimed that union teachers fail to educate their students.  That the teacher tried to educate him on non-prejudicial generalizations indicates that the teacher does a poor job of educating.  QED.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The DC voucher program that mostly benefits poor, black, urban kids had to be rescued....by John Boehner, I think.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

When the money follows the child, things will get as close to perfect as they ever can.It is THE only way to fix urban public education.

People opposed to vouchers:-Testing industry profiteers.  Lots of parents will match those voucher checks and be able to afford private schools where no children toil like little slaves so the Pearson masters can make a buck.-Many charter school operators.  Currently, they're the only "favored" ones who get access to the cash trough.  Vouchers that can be used at privates will threaten their testing factories.  The only reason charters get any backing/ tax money at all is bc they agree to keep the gravy train rolling for companies like Pearson.-The thousands of unnecessary bureaucrats in public schools (including the superintendents) that Hockaday, St. Mark's, Jesuit, etc manage to do just fine without.

Phelps
Phelps

You forgot bottom-of-the-class teachers with education degrees who can't actually teach, who would be unemployed in a heartbeat in anything but the union-protected, seniority-above-all urban school district environment.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Yes.I also forgot the homeowners in the Park Cities who will see their property values fall if DISD improves--they would also oppose vouchers.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 vouchers won't achieve what you imagine, cause the poorest are stuck in their projects, in bad areas.  These people likely would have a harder time commuting to other schools.  So, vouchers are a way to further leach the wealthy kids and their dollars from the schools. 

Anon
Anon

more private schools would open in those areas to attract the students who don't like where they currently are. they can smell money just like anyone else. as long as you make sure the students and parents are the ones who can take it away by leaving, you give them an incentive to offer something better than current offerings. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

That's simply not true.

Since I actually teach in DISD and see kids come and go every day, I can assure you that most families have a car.

But the greater point is that neighborhood schools WILL improve; the whole paradigm of the district will have to change once vouchers are on the scene.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 since you have to be there early, you couldn't take your kid to school.  Disadvantaged people have trouble funding their transportation.  Insurance, gas, maintenance are all factors that hit their particularly scarce resources hard.  Further, it's easy to imagine that many of these homes are single parent homes.  You work doesn't allow you to do what you describe, why do you imagine you're so special in this way?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Schools open way before school starts.  Parents drop their kids off; schools serve breakfast and teachers are required to be there 45 minutes before school starts to babysit so parents can get to work.

Regardless, the money should follow the child.The parent should choose the school.The days of paying a failing Titanic district to continue to fail need to be over.

scottindallas
scottindallas

having a car and being able to handle a commute are different.  You take your kids to school?  You pick them up?  You can't, cause you're teaching.  

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

Even if the kids are given vouchers and allowed to decide where they wish to be educated; the ones with parents who don't give two shits will still, in most cases, under perform. Behind every successful kid is someone(be it a parent or mentor) who showed some concern for that child's future. No matter how many vouchers you give out....you can't, unfortunately, give out vouchers to kids to pick a better parent(s) to help direct them to their future success.

GregMarcydaGama
GregMarcydaGama

You are a trouble-maker, Schutze; no good will come from this; you keep up talk like this and you are soon not to be invited to any more Park City soirees. Think on this carefully. People will not take kindly to your wanton irony. BTW, good job. ~ / ~ OM

Phelps
Phelps

Yeah, think of how empty your life will be without those cucumber sandwiches.

Now I Get It!
Now I Get It!

So you're trying to argue that school choice and public school vouchers are a LIBERAL platform issue?  What planet are you on?  School choice, free market and vouchers are and have always been a conservative and libertarian talking point.  A great one, at that!

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

No, he's arguing that this conservative idea, while full of well intention, will not be welcomed by some staunch conservative school districts. And he loves the thought of forcing it on said districts.

I Get It Now!
I Get It Now!

 He claims that Romney is to the left of Obama on this issue (and being to the left of Obama is, well, LEFT).

I'll grant you he also looks forward to foisting this idea on "conservative school districts," but I don't think it will be as unwelcome as he suspects it will be.  I, for one, am all for it.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 he doesn't even lie.  He doesn't articulate liberal policies, he's an empty suit.  Sadly, he and Romney may be two peas from the same pod.

Phelps
Phelps

That Obama fails to implement liberal policies doesn't mean stops being a liberal.  He's just practicing the ultimate liberal strategy -- lie to your diehards who won't vote against you anyway and then pander to the moderates.

Now I Get It!
Now I Get It!

 Aaaah...the race card.  You must be right then!

observist
observist

B..bu.. but.. he's BLACK!  He must be a socialist or something!

scottindallas
scottindallas

Obama is NOT liberal.  Stop getting your information from where you do.  They either think you're stupid, or they themselves are.

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