Home > Education, Election 2012 > Romney’s Education Sham

Romney’s Education Sham

May 25th, 2012

It’s all worded very prettily, but in essence, it comes down to this: move money away from public schools while leaving them burdened with the highest-cost children they will not be funded to handle; place even more emphasis on meaningless assessment tools designed to punish experienced teachers in the public school system; reduce certification requirements so that private schools can save money and increase profits, while removing regulation that would require these schools to meet minimum standards, all in a push to privatize education in a way that will effectively award billions of taxpayer dollars to profit-seekers looking to cash in.

All worded rosily as “choice” for the “best” schools while “ensuring” quality and “rewarding great teachers” and so on. But if you look past the BS language and think carefully about how this will be implemented in the real world, not to mention what is not said in these phony outcome scenarios, it comes out to basically the same answer: reward our donors instead of theirs.

Sadly, this is expected to be an area where he will be seen as stronger than Obama–not that Obama has been superlative in this area himself, but Romney, essentially forwarding the conservative line on education, will be far more destructive.

Categories: Education, Election 2012 Tags: by
  1. Troy
    May 25th, 2012 at 14:52 | #1

    The dominant costs of education are local — wages and capital costs — so there’s not a lot that can be done at the Federal level anyway.

    The best thing the Feds can do for education is to just stop blowing hundreds of billions of dollars a year on stuff we don’t need, freeing that money to be used for more productive investments, like our kids’ educations.

    This is where I’m most bullish on Japan vs. the US, the next 20-30 years.

    Japan’s age 5-17 cohort is going to fall from 15.25M now to 11.4M in 2032.

    (Japan reached Peak School-Age Kids in 1957 at 29M, and there were over 20M as late as 1993)

    What this tells me is that Japan’s educational system is going to contract, and it will have the luxury of hopefully keeping the best teachers and investing more per pupil.

    (Alas, this depopulation out in the country will mostly result in less efficient distribution of resources.)

    But the US, on the other hand, is going to see a 16% increase in schoolkids by 2030, from 54M to 63M.

    (This is at the same time our retired population is going to rise from 50M now to 80M).

    As it is, the pension promised to current workers is going to BK everything in the next decade:



    People say Japan’s ongoing depopulation is going to kill them. I tend to think things will be pretty OK, as there will be more work for everyone who wants it, compared to now.

    But how this will affect education business in Japan is not something I’m prepared to opine on.

    The facts are what they are — Japan’s peak 18yo population arrived in 1967, at ~2.7M. Their baby boom echo arrived in 1991, at 2.1M (I had good timing coming to Japan when I did in 1992 I guess).

    Now 18yos number 1.2M, down 40% from 1991. The good news is that the decline is mostly over, there will still be over 1M 18yos in 2032, so the decline from now to then will be under 15%.

    2032’s 18yos are going to be born soon!

    The US, on the other hand, seems to be intent on overpopulating and outrunning our resources. I think things are not going to turn out so good, we really screwed the pooch last decade, and haven’t fixed anything since.

    Not sure we can, anymore, “Yes We Can!” or no.

  2. Troy
    May 25th, 2012 at 16:40 | #2

    I see Romney’s catchphrase is “Believe in America”

    That’s much slicker than McCain’s “Country First”.

    People on the fence as to who to vote for this time around must be the stupidest people on the planet, but the actual the dynamics of how we got where we are today is something I’m not even that confident in saying I understand.

    This is a very, very big country. 3rd in population behind China & India, and almost the GDP of these two giants put together. We did pretty well under the Pax Americana, 1945-1980 but let things get away then I guess.

    Flim-flam has been the coin of the realm, since 1981. The “progressive” bloc is outnumbered by the centrists of the muddled middle, while the radical right has taken over things again, like they did in 1994.

    The 1990s was the confluence of a lot of happy accidents — NAFTA, China raising their FX from 3 to 6 (facilitating their trade deficit with us), the baby boom turning 40 and entering their peak earning/saving/spending years, and a global oil glut thanks to non-OPEC suppliers (like the North Sea) peaking.

    The 2010s is the opposite of all that and the middle class in this country is two states’ EVs away from slitting their own throats.

  3. Troy
    May 25th, 2012 at 16:52 | #3

    ^ correction, the yuan went from 2 to 8+ as China ramped up their market reforms.


  4. Luis
    May 25th, 2012 at 18:05 | #4

    This is one of my pet peeves, by the way–local and state funding of education. I see it as adverse to the ideals we are led to believe America is based on, especially the one about everybody having a fair shot.

    This has never been really true, of course. For example, the people who think that racism is dead and we’re all color-blind and AA just gives unfair advantages to people of color are fooling themselves. After the Civil War, slavery ended in name, but not practice; for a long time, sharecropping and prison debt kept the institution of slavery alive for some time–something we are actually seeing re-emerge with current privatization of prisons and the surge of incarceration of people of color… again. In the 20th century, institutionalized racism continued overtly for the better part of the century, and still continues covertly to this day.

    So, your ancestor started out as property; his grandson was technically free, but treated the same way. His grandson was still prevented from voting by Jim Crow laws and had little or no chance of getting any kind of breakthrough job. His grandson was still subject to heavy racism. And today, maybe kid of color may have a few close family members in prison, a poor education because local schools suck, and even if he can get an education, his resume will be rejected a lot more than if it would be were he white; despite there being a black man in the White House, that kid may feel his options are incredibly limited. He has no legacy to build on because his family has been stepped on repeatedly for generations.

    But a-holes who say racism is no longer an issue say that he has an unfair “advantage” in our society.

    We do not have a level playing field. It is heavily tilted to favor people like Mitt Romney, and despite all of AA and quotas and supposed white guilt and whatever, is still heavily weighted in favor of white people, males in particular. Which is not to say that every white male lives in the lap of luxury, but he’ll have a much easier go of it than will, say, a Latina woman. More doors will open for him, more people will accept him. His life may suck, but there’s always someone lower on the totem pole, whether he realizes it or not.

    Education is supposed to be one of the levelers, but it is all too often the reverse, and conservatives are trying to make it even less fair than it is now. Education should never have been funded at the state and local level; it should be federal. Funding should be based on what can be delivered, not on a base dollar amount (if that’s not the case already). But if you have people who are slammed down so often in life, and they get a grimy, underfunded, overpopulated dump of a school, it sure as hell is not going to help.

    A level education field will not solve all of our problems. It will only help start alleviate some of the difficulties and help to level out a severely off-kilter playing field.

    But it also is one of the three pillars of a sound economy, in my opinion: Education, Infrastructure, Scientific Research. Fund those three and focus on making them work (NOT how to shift blame, save money, or “fix” something by making things worse), and it will pay off handsomely within a generation or two. We discovered this in the early-to-mid 20th century, but conservatives have successfully denigrated the methods used to make that era stand out to the point that no one wants to do it any more.

  5. Tim Kane
    May 25th, 2012 at 22:31 | #5

    Freedom for the pike means death to the minnow.

  6. Troy
    May 25th, 2012 at 23:40 | #6

    But with centralized money comes centralized oversight.

    California has the population of Poland, and the median state, Kentucky, has the population of NZ or Ireland.

    It’s mostly a historical fiction harbored by legalistic nutjobs that the US is 50 sovereign states, but Japan’s experience of centralized education run from doesn’t seem that salutary. Then again if I had kids I’d probably want them in the Japanese system not the US’s.

    A level education field will not solve all of our problems. It will only help start alleviate some of the difficulties and help to level out a severely off-kilter playing field.

    this is where the politics of power comes in. For one, public education has been a Democratic power base for 100+ years so of course the Republicans want to destroy it on principle.

    Only poor people want “levelers”, and they either don’t vote or vote for the wrong people anyway.

    The economies of the PIIGS in Europe — especially your País — demonstrate that good education is over-education.


    Here in the US:

    “Unemployment figures have some asking if a college education is worth it”


    The conservatives cackle, for they desire a return to the 19th century where college was a privilege of the wealthy and not something the wealthy had to pay for the masses to attend for no real reason (as it is now).

    Thanks to the Blue & Gold plan, UC is still subsidized like it was in our day, more or less.

    Cal State has a similar system with Cal Grants.

    But it remains to be seen how the state actually pays for all this with the conservatives dominating the revenue side of the debate.

    Japan’s higher ed system struck me as somewhat nutty when I was there (everybody busts their ass in high school then kicks back for 4 years in college), but ISTM the horror stories of jukus was driven by demographic pressures — as I mentioned above, the entering class of 18yos has fallen 40% since its peak in 1991, from 2.1M to 1.2M.

    This simply has to reduce the admissions pressure, though I see that the ronin rate is still 25%:

    “In 2011, the number of ronin who took the uniform test is 110,211, while the number of high school students who took the test is 442,421 [1].”


  7. kensensei
    May 27th, 2012 at 02:54 | #7

    I am a college instructor in California and times have never been tougher for education.
    Our college depends on State funding (income and property taxes) to keep it going. The loss of revenue to fund out educational institutions in Calif is the result of four major factors:

    1. Property values have dropped significantly throughout the state, so revenue is way down. (Prop 13 has been a big player here, too.)

    2. Prison population has increased rapidly over the past ten years (thanks to Three Strikes law) and so those facilities see a greater share of funding than colleges to maintain inmates’ food/medical and cover prison guards’ salaries and retirements.

    3. Health Insurance rates have skyrocketed, hence, the colleges need to funnel money that would otherwise be used for education/research to cover faculty/administrators health benefits.

    4. People everywhere are living longer, hence, retirement costs are higher to keep those retirees’ benefits flowing in.

    It’s a grim picture that doesn’t seem to get brighter. But as we look around, most of the wealthiest hi-tech corporations (Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft) are based here in California. So the money is “there”, but it hasn’t materialized for the middle-class.


Comments are closed.