Romney’s education proposal would provide sweeping national leadership.
(Page 2 of 2)
In order to receive the federal funds, a state would have to adopt these choice policies. States would also have to remove all enrollment caps on charter schools and fund them under the same formula that applies to all other publicly supported schools—which includes providing access to capital funds.
Romney’s proposal would provide sweeping national leadership by making every state adopt school choice policies to obtain federal funds. This would be a revolution in education, shifting power from the public school bureaucracy to parents and students. That’s precisely why the bureaucracy and teachers unions oppose reform so strongly. If parents and students have the power to determine where the funding will go, then schools, teachers, administrators, and the bureaucracy would have to be maximally responsive to their concerns and preferences.
As a result, the incentives facing administrators and teachers would be transformed. This would spur each school to more carefully monitor its performance, move expeditiously to correct problems, and devote imagination and energy to timely innovation. School choice would create a competitive market in education—just like those that exist for other goods and services. Funding would immediately flow to the schools that satisfied parents and students with the best teaching methods, materials, and subject matter. Schools that failed to change and serve would lose funding. As a result, public schools would improve sharply. And no longer would complaining parents and students be treated as weird interlopers in the expert process of education.
School choice also allows for decentralized flexibility. Different schools might strive to maximize the cultivation and flourishing of different talents or abilities, whether in math, science, music, the arts, or other disciplines. Competing schools would be tailored to the needs and skills of children, instead of a one-size-fits-all government monopoly.
Romney proposes other reforms that would complement his choice revolution. He would expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has provided 1,600 scholarships per year for students to attend private schools, to serve as a model of school choice for the nation.
He wants to eliminate the ineffective No Child Left Behind federal mandate that all teachers of core academic subjects achieve certification that they are “highly qualified.” Instead he would direct funding toward schools that “actually attract and reward highly effective teachers and remove ineffective ones from the classroom.” He would reform federal data collection to provide user-friendly information on school performance, which parents could use to choose among schools at all levels. He would consolidate the $4 billion in federal teacher-quality spending into a single block grant back to the states.
In fact, the best solution would be to block grant the entire Department of Education back to the states, as education is primarily a state responsibility. Federal funds could be distributed by the departments of Treasury, Commerce, or Health and Human Services (as they used to be).
ROMNEY’S REVOLUTION extends to higher education. He wants students to be awarded degrees based on success in competency testing, rather than time served in a classroom. Such change would further slash the power of the education bureaucracy, which would have less time to propagandize students. He proposes reopening college student loan financing to private sector lenders, reversing Obama’s nationalization of the student loan market. He would consolidate duplicative and inefficient federal financial aid and refocus it on students most in need. He would remove regulatory barriers to the business of online education, encouraging it to expand into a new world of 21st-century digital education.
Romney’s proposed power-to-the-people education revolution is a good start. Just as Reagan redefined the debate and the election of 1980, Romney should follow up throughout the campaign with more carefully considered, conservative, market-oriented reforms, and keep the 19th-century minds of the Obama campaign on the intellectual defensive.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?