Today’s Huffington Post examines a new trend in the last 72 hours of the presidential contest: Gov. Romney is suddenly addressing education, which the authors attribute to his “bid to sway votes from women and Latinos -- voters who prioritize education but have favored Obama throughout the presidential race.”
Here’s Romney on Friday:
“When I am president, I will be a voice of the children and their parents. There is no union for the PTA,” he continued, a line he has since repeated at each campaign rally in the final days. “I will give parents the information they need to know if their school is failing, and the choice they need to pick the school where their child can succeed.”
But, reflect the writers,
Romney’s analysis ignores the nuances of Obama's record. The refrain of putting children first is the mantra of a movement known as "education reform," an initiative that includes many Democrats and counts Obama among its biggest cheerleaders. Until recently, the unions' desires dominated Democratic education policies, but in 2007, the group Democrats for Education reform formed, creating a base within the party to advocate for issues that are often thorny for unions: teacher quality, school accountability, charter schools and using students' standardized test scores to partially formulate teachers ratings.
In reality, the Obama administration -- and campaign -- has tried to delicately balance these two, often competing interests: the unions -- Democratic supporters known for their ground game -- and the reformers. A few hundred billion dollars of stimulus funding put 450,000 teachers back to work, the U.S. Education Department calculates, supporting a union priority of growing its ranks and keeping class sizes small; on the other hand, the Race to the Top competition angered unions by encouraging the growth of charter schools and evaluations based on test scores.