Romney’s education plan prescribes profit-driven privatized schools

by Kenneth Leonard

America has a responsibility to its children. One thing we should all agree on is children are entitled to an education of the highest caliber. It logically follows that adults have an obligation to demand the highest standards from public and private schools. Unfortunately, while all men are supposed to be created equal, there is great inequality in the educational merits of different schools. This can actually be quite dangerous, because for various reasons many parents are grossly unqualified to make the best decisions concerning their children’s education.

It is absolutely imperative the American public school system be the best collection of preparatory institutions in the world. Our K-12 system provides the foundation for the future of our country, equipping children with the tools necessary to take America into the future.

Our leaders have different perspectives regarding the best way to equip the next generation. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seeks the privatization of education. It should come as no surprise to anyone Romney views education as just another “industry,” best served with deregulation and an emphasis on a profit-driven private sector.

Romney’s education plan, titled “A Chance for Every Child: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education,” was written with a handful of former President George W. Bush advisers who want to make sure “no child is left behind.” It lays out a blueprint for American education in which parents are compensated with government subsidies for sending their children to private or religious schools.

That’s his plan: to divert precious tax dollars from the public schools system and back into the hands of parents so they can send their kids to non-public schools.

Another central component of his education plan is to lower the certification standards for teachers. Romney opposes the pesky tests would-be teachers are required to take at the state or federal level
in order to ensure they have these apparently unnecessary things called “qualifications.” I mean, who cares if teachers are educated or not? It’s not like the kids are going to notice. They don’t know anything yet, right?

Romney referred to what he calls “school choice” as a civil rights issue. He is appealing to the lowest denominator in the frenzied conservative far right – those who don’t want their kids to learn “liberal” science and history.

As Stephen Colbert said at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner back in 2006, echoing a generation of  conservative thinkers, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” This is unacceptable to Romney’s core constituency. If parents don’t want their children to learn what is taught in schools, they should be able to send their kids to schools that teach the things they want their kids to learn at the government’s expense.

If some scientifically illiterate parent wants their kid to learn the world is 6,000 years old, dinosaurs coexisted with human beings, and the Loch Ness Monster and passages in the Bible should be considered reasonable evidence of these things, your tax dollars should help pay for the miseducation of their child.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal recently implemented a plan very similar to Romney’s. Tens of millions of dollars are now flowing into private religious schools where basic, fundamental educational concepts are hidden from children whose educations are defined by old superstitions and traditions.

This is what Romney wants
for our children. He wants
them to have the freedom to
have a fact-free education. A “lite” education, if you will. Unfortunately, education isn’t a business. There are consequences to the inadequate schooling many American children get. We are losing our competitive edge in the global marketplace as a direct result of our complacency toward the quality of our children’s education.

The purpose of education is to challenge one’s existing viewpoints, and to replace your pre-existing belief structures with facts. American children deserve the opportunity to learn things their parents may not want them to know. At what point do we stop allowing well-intentioned, but misguided parents to abuse their children by denying them their right to a proper education? Is it any wonder that, with leaders such as Romney, other nations are laughing at us?