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Mitt Romney on Education

Former Republican Governor (MA)


Smaller classroom size only matters to teachers' unions

Q: What as president would you seriously do about a massive overreach of big government into the classroom?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you what I think I would do. One, education has to be held at the local and state level, not at the federal level. We need get the federal government out of education. And secondly, all the talk about we need smaller classroom size, look that's promoted by the teachers unions to hire more teachers. We looked at what drives good education in our state, what we found is the best thing for education is great teachers, hire the very best and brightest to be teachers, pay them properly, make sure that you have school choice, test your kids to see if they are meeting the standards that need to be met, and make sure that you put the parents in charge. And as president I will stand up to the National Teachers Unions.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

We should insist that teachers get evaluated

PERRY: There is one person on this stage that is for Obama's Race to the Top and that is Governor Romney. He said so just this last week. And I think that is an important difference between the rest of the people on this stage and one person that wants to run for the presidency. Being in favor of the Obama Race to the Top and that is not conservative.

ROMNEY: I'm not sure exactly what he's saying. I don't support any particular program that he's describing. I think the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is doing a good thing by saying, "You know what? We should insist that teachers get evaluated and that schools have the opportunity to see which teachers exceeding and which ones are failing and that teachers that are not successful are removed from the classroom." Those ideas by Secretary Duncan, that is a lot better than what the president did which is cutting off school choice in the Washington, D.C. schools. So let's give us a full chance to talk about it.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

China & India graduate more science & engineering PhDs

Increasing productivity begins with innovation and innovation begins with good ideas. More often than not, good ideas come from educated minds. America's post-WWWII commitment to public higher education directly contributed to the burst of productivity that rocketed our economy beyond every other. But other nations have made as great or greater a commitment to higher education than we have, particularly in engineering, computer science, and information. 15 years ago, China and India awarded about half as many master's degrees in these fields as did the US. Today, they graduate more than two times the number of students in these fields as we do.

While our annual number of degrees has hovered around 7,000 to 8,000, China's has risen from 1,784 to 12,130--50% greater than ours. This is a stunning reversal of global preeminence in the priority attached to the highest level of educational attainment. Not surprisingly, China, Japan, and Taiwan claim a growing share of the world's patents.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.120 , Mar 2, 2010

School choice over fat-cat CEOs of teachers' unions

Our conservative agenda strengthens our family in part by, by putting our schools on track to be the best in the world again, because great schools start with great teachers. We'll insist on hiring teachers from the top third college graduates and we'll give better teachers better pay. School accountability, school choice, cyber schools will be priorities and we'll put parents and teachers back in charge of education, not fat-cat CEOs of the teachers' unions.
Source: Speech to 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 20, 2010

FactCheck: US scores at 50% internationally, not 10%-25%

Romney exaggerated the extent to which the US lags behind other industrial nations in education. He said, “Our kids score in the bottom 10% or 25% in exams around the world among major industrial nations.” That’s not so. Actually, the US ranked closer to the 50th percentile than the bottom quarter, according to the most recent rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an internationally standardized study administered to15-year-old schoolchildren in 57 countries.

Students in several nations were tested in 2006. In science, the US ranked 29th out of 57 (49th %ile). And in math, the US ranked 35th out of 57 (39th %ile). In 2003 US students again landed near the middle, scoring 15th out of 29 (48th %ile).

A Romney campaign aide said the candidate was referring to a much earlier study in which the US finished 19th out of 21 nations in math and 16th out of 21 nations in science. But that study, the Third International Math & Science Study (TIMSS) is from 1998

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate , Dec 12, 2007

FactCheck: MA 1st in test scores, but was 1st before Romney

Governors Huckabee & Romney both claimed to have the most impressive record on education. Romney claimed, “The kids in our state scored number one in all four measures on the national exams, and they did that because of Republican principles.”

It’s tru that Massachusetts school children scored first in the nation in the most recent NAEP tests, scoring a clean sweep among both 4th-graders and 8th-graders in math & reading. But MA also had ranked at or near the top before Romney took office, so he’s straining the facts to attribute the success entirely to “Republican principles” and his leadership.

Arkansas consistently scored below the national average before Huckabee came along, and on most tests it still does. But on all four NAEP tests, AR’s scores moved closer to the average during Huckabee’s time in office. Coming from below average to not-so-much-below average is significant. Whether that constitutes the “most impressive” record among GOP candidates, we’ll leave others to judge.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate , Dec 12, 2007

Education is not just the teachers’ union

Education is not just the teachers’ union. They’ve been the biggest obstacle to change in education and choice. It’s teachers, parents, the state, the federal government. It’s all levels coming together and working together for the benefit of our kids. We face right now an education challenge that’s really unusual. We’re behind. America’s behind in education. Our kids score in the bottom 10 or 25 percent in exams around the world among major industrial nations.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Bush was right on No Child Left Behind

Bush was right to fight for No Child Left Behind, because we allow states now to test our kids and see how well they’re doing, particularly in math and English. We’ve made the same effort in our state, actually before No Child Left Behind was passed. We test our kids; we have high standards. We teach them in English, English immersion. We also put in place incentives for kids to do well. For those that take the graduation exam, which you have to take to get out of high school, we say that you’re going to get, if you score in the top 25 percent on the test, a four-year tuition-free scholarship to a Massachusetts institution of higher learning. The federal government insists on those tests and those standards. We have to have higher pay for better teachers. And people who are not good teachers ought to find a different career. We need more parental involvement. School choice, better pay for better teachers, high standards, scholarships for the best kids, English immersion: These principles work.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Identify failing schools; push choice & English immersion

Q: How can we improve public education in this country?

A: Well, we’ve got a pretty good model. If you look at my state, even before I got there, other governors and legislatures worked real hard to improve education. And they did a number of things that made a big difference. One is, they started testing our kids to see who was succeeding, making sure that failing schools were identified and then turning them around. They fought for school choice. When I became governor, I had to protect school choice because the legislature tried to stop it. And then we also fought for English immersion. We wanted our kids coming to school to learn English from the very beginning. We care about the quality of education. I want to pay better teachers more money. Teachers are underpaid, but I want to evaluate our teachers and see which ones are the best and which ones are not.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Principles: choice; parental involvement; merit scholarships

[In Massachusetts] we did something that was really extraordinary. We said to every kid that does well on these exams that we put in place before you can graduate from high school, we’re going to give you a John and Abigail Adams scholarship, four years tuition-free to our state university or state colleges for all the kids that graduate in the top quarter of their class.

And let me tell how our kids are doing. Every two years, we test the kids across the country, the NAPE exam. Massachusetts kids came out number one in English in fourth and eighth grade, number one in math. In all four tests, our kids came out number one in the nation. These principles of choice, parental involvement, encouraging high standards, scholarships for our best kids -- these turn our schools into the kind of magnets that they can be for the entire nation.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Supports English immersion & abstinence education

In the toughest of blue states I’ve had to stand up for life, and I have. I’ve had to stand up for traditional marriage, and I have. I stood to make sure that we could have English immersion in our schools, because I think kids should be taught in English. I fought for the death penalty. I fought for abstinence education. I have the kind of leadership that will allow America to build upon the same kind of reputation and heritage that we got from our conservative founders in this party.
Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Changed from closing Education Dept. to supporting NCLB

Q: You have been criticized for changing your position on some issues. You say that it’s a part of learning from experience. Can you point to an area in which your learning from experience led you to change to a position that is less popular with the Republican base?

A: Sure, quite a few, actually. One is No Child Left Behind. I’ve taken a position where, once upon a time, I said I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education. That was my position when I ran for Senate in 1994. That’s very popular with the base. As I’ve been a governor and seen the impact that the federal government can have holding down the interest of the teachers’ unions and instead putting the interests of the kids and the parents and the teachers first, I see that the Department of Education can actually make a difference. So I supported No Child Left Behind. I still do. I know there are a lot in my party that don’t like it, but I like testing in our schools. I think it allows us to get better schools

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Reform underperforming schools or replace with charters

For K-12, the Romney/Healey plan would focus resources on under-performing schools by providing for an immediate third party audit of school management, curriculum and faculty; giving principals emergency powers to replace up to 10 percent of staff; accelerating charter school authorization in the district and allowing for intensive remedial attention for under-performing teachers.
Source: Campaign web site, www.romney2002.com, “Issues” , Sep 17, 2002

Supported abolishing the federal Department of Education

Source: Boston Globe review of 1994 canpaign issues , Mar 21, 2002

Schools can teach family values, but not religion or prayer

Romney said he would support federal grants to schools to fund programs stressing the importance of economics and family values. He said that local school districts should have complete control over the programs, but that they could not endorse specific religious beliefs or prayer in schools. -- Among the possible programs could be teaching children to learn the importance of getting married before having children.
Source: Joe Battenfeld in Boston Herald , Aug 1, 1994

Supported means-tested vouchers for public & private schools

Source: Boston Globe review of 1994 canpaign issues , Mar 21, 2002

2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Mitt Romney on other issues:
MA Gubernatorial:
Deval Patrick
MA Senatorial:
John Kerry
Scott Brown

2011 Special Elections:
CA-36:Jane Harman(D)
CA-36:Janice Hahn(D)
NV-2:Dean Heller(R)
NY-9:Anthony Weiner(D)
NY-26:Chris Lee(R)
NY-26:Kathleen Hochul(D)
Retiring 2012:
CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)
Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)
Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-8:Dave Reichert(R)
Running for Senate:
AZ-1:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
UT-3:Jason Chaffetz(R)
Dem. Freshmen
in 112th Congress:

AL-7:Terri Sewell
CA-33:Karen Bass
DE-0:John Carney
FL-17:Frederica Wilson
HI-1:Colleen Hanabusa
LA-2:Cedric Richmond
MA-10:Bill Keating
MI-13:Hansen Clarke
RI-1:David Cicilline
GOP Freshmen
in 112th Congress:

AL-2:Martha Roby
AL-5:Mo Brooks
AZ-1:Paul Gosar
AZ-3:Ben Quayle
AZ-5:David Schweikert
AR-1:Rick Crawford
AR-2:Tim Griffin
AR-3:Steve Womack
CA-19:Jeff Denham
CO-3:Scott Tipton
CO-4:Cory Gardner
FL-12:Dennis Ross
FL-2:Steve Southerland
FL-21:Mario Diaz-Balart
FL-22:Allen West
FL-24:Sandy Adams
FL-25:David Rivera
FL-5:Rich Nugent
FL-8:Dan Webster
GA-2:Mike Keown
GA-7:Rob Woodall
GA-8:Austin Scott
ID-1:Raul Labrador
IL-8:Joe Walsh
IL-10:Bob Dold
IL-11:Adam Kinzinger
IL-14:Randy Hultgren
IL-17:Bobby Schilling
IL-8:Joe Walsh
IN-3:Marlin Stutzman
IN-4:Todd Rokita
IN-8:Larry Bucshon
IN-9:Todd Young
KS-1:Tim Huelskamp
KS-3:Kevin Yoder
KS-5:Mike Pompeo
LA-3:Jeff Landry
MD-1:Andy Harris
MI-1:Dan Benishek
MI-2:Bill Huizenga
MI-3:Justin Amash
MI-7:Tim Walberg
MN-8:Chip Cravaack
MO-4:Vicky Hartzler
MO-7:Billy Long
MS-1:Alan Nunnelee
MS-4:Steven Palazzo
GOP Freshmen
in 111th Congress:

NC-2:Renee Ellmers
ND-0:Rick Berg
NH-2:Charlie Bass
NH-1:Frank Guinta
NJ-3:Jon Runyan
NM-2:Steve Pearce
NV-3:Joe Heck
NY-13:Michael Grimm
NY-19:Nan Hayworth
NY-20:Chris Gibson
NY-24:Richard Hanna
NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle
NY-29:Tom Reed
OH-1:Steve Chabot
OH-15:Steve Stivers
OH-16:Jim Renacci
OH-18:Bob Gibbs
OH-6:Bill Johnson
OK-5:James Lankford
PA-10:Tom Marino
PA-11:Lou Barletta
PA-3:Mike Kelly
PA-7:Patrick Meehan
PA-8:Mike Fitzpatrick
SC-1:Tim Scott
SC-3:Jeff Duncan
SC-4:Trey Gowdy
SC-5:Mick Mulvaney
SD-0:Kristi Noem
TN-3:Chuck Fleischmann
TN-4:Scott DesJarlais
TN-6:Diane Black
TN-8:Stephen Fincher
TX-17:Bill Flores
TX-23:Quico Canseco
TX-27:Blake Farenthold
VA-2:Scott Rigell
VA-5:Robert Hurt
VA-9:Morgan Griffith
WA-3:Jaime Herrera
WI-7:Sean Duffy
WI-8:Reid Ribble
WV-1:David McKinley
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Page last updated: Nov 05, 2011