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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

Failure to educate minorities is a civil rights issue

The "achievement gap" has been lamented for decades but distressingly little has been done to combat it. About half of African American and Hispanic American students drop out before receiving a high-school degree. The result is that we are virtually assuring the creation of permanent underclass. It is an inexplicable human tragedy when millions of American children barely attain a third-world education in a nation that offers all its citizens access to free public schooling. Our current failure to educate our minority populations is the foremost civil-rights issue of our generation.

The minority proportion of the US population is projected to rise from 26% today to 34% by 2030, and if the achievement gap and dropout rate among minorities continues, the average educational level of the nation's entire workforce will continue to decline dramatically.

There is no greater indictment of American government than the sorry state of American education. It is an epic failure.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.198-199 , Mar 2, 2010

2003: Bold reforms: required H.S. graduation test

In 1993, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered the state to raise education funding levels in low-income school districts to a minimum acceptable level. Funding in low-income districts would be dramatically increased, but all students would be regularly tested in math and English. And the agreement provided that in 2003--my first year as governor--students would have to pass a test in order to graduate from high school. And finally, the state opened the door to the creation of charter schools.

Objections to the graduation requirement became increasingly intense as the first school year of my administration was drawing to a close. 92% of our seniors had passed the test, and those who had not would be entitled to summer school and another try. The parents of the 8% of students who failed to pass the test were vocal & angry. Despite the program's apparent early success, the Massachusetts teachers' union launched a $600,000 ad campaign, calling the graduation requirement "flawed and unfair."

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.201-202 , Mar 2, 2010

Vetoed abandoning three new Massachusetts charter schools

The provision for new charter schools came under attack during my term. The legislature passed a bill that put a moratorium on any new charter schools--a law went into effect immediately. Yet because the bill was enacted at the beginning of summer, it would force the abandonment of three new charter schools only recently constructed and scheduled to open in the fall. The teachers for these schools had already been hired. The students had applied, been accepted, and had notified their regular public schools of their decision to attend the new charter schools. It was an egregious exercise in special-interest-driven legislation, and evidence of how fervently the teachers' unions oppose school choice. I vetoed the bill. And while Republicans made up only 15 percent of the legislature, enough Democrats joined with me to uphold my veto, and the new schools opened as planned.
Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.203 , Mar 2, 2010

Teachers' union has deadening impact on student achievement

Teachers' unions do their very best to secure insulations from performance for their members, and the results are lack of accountability, rising pay as a simple function of years on the job, and near-absolute job security. These have a deadening impact on student achievement. I don't blame teachers' unions for asking such gold-plated benefits; the unions'' job is to work for their members. I blame administrators, school boards, and parents for saying yes, even when schools are manifestly failing their students.

It is not the unions' job to fight for our children. That job is our job, and it's the task of the people we elect to represent us. Our elected representatives' role is to sit across the table from the unions and bargain in good faith in the interest of children and parents. But the teachers' unions long ago discovered that they could wield influence--and, in some cases, overwhelming influence--over the selection of our representatives on school boards and in state legislatures.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.217 , 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

Other governors on Education: Mitt Romney on other issues:
MA Gubernatorial:
Deval Patrick
MA Senatorial:
John Kerry
Scott Brown

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Contact info:
Campaign website:
www.mittromney.com/
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 55239, Boston, MA 02205

Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011