With a little more than a month to go before the upcoming Presidential election, rhetoric between the two candidates’ camps continues to heat up.
Although no subject seems to be off limits, education—which has grabbed the spotlight during previous Presidential campaigns—is flying under the radar during much of the discussions and debates. With the economy, foreign policy, jobs and other issues dominating the candidates’ focus, education finds itself at the back of the class in this year’s election.
A closer look at the candidates’ platforms and plans for improving education in America show a number of differing views. Among them:
•President Barack Obama wants to increase education funding (by 2.5 percent in his 2013 budget proposal); candidate Mitt Romney would reduce education funding as part of his plan to implement an immediate 5 percent cut of all non-security discretionary spending.
•School choice gets varying degrees of support from both candidates, but their stances on teachers, teacher involvement in education reform, evaluation and certification differ in many aspects. Student loans and how funding becomes available to students (as well as overall government involvement) represent primary differences in the candidates’ higher-education plans.
•No Child Left Behind would get a makeover—again. President Obama would focus more resources on turning around the lowest-performing schools and creating standards that would better prepare students for college and careers. Candidate Romney would take a more aggressive approach to change and replace many of the school-intervention mandates and require states to provide more-transparent school results.
•Education facilities improvement and funding is not a focus of the candidates, and besides minimal references as part of broader discussions, remains something states and local governments must contend with.
Even though education does not share the spotlight in the upcoming election, there is little doubt of its importance to voters and the nation as a whole. It will only be a matter of time before education once again regains its prominence as a key national focus.
Agron is editor-in-chief of AS&U.