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Romney Likes Obama's Merit Pay, School Choice Policies

Gov. Mitt Romney's comments about beer and Mormonism in a forthcoming interview with People magazine are snagging lots of attention around the web, after Politico's Playbook published a snippet of the interview today.

But we at Politics K-12 are perplexed by Romney's comments on education policy, an area on which he says he has some common ground with President Barack Obama.

Campaign 2012Here's the relevant exchange:

PEOPLE: In the holiday spirit of comity, can you say one thing President Obama has done right?

Romney: "He's a good example of a husband and father. Some of his education initiatives—merit pay for the best teachers and school choice—have been positive. The surge in Afghanistan was the right choice. But the pluses are far exceeded by the places where I'd give him a minus."

The merit pay for teacher thing we get. Obama has pushed for an expansion of the Teacher Incentive Fund, which doles out grants to districts to create pay-for-performance programs. And he made performance pay a component of both Race to the Top and the School Improvement Grant programs.

But school choice? Okay, Obama has pushed for an expansion of charter schools, again under Race to the Top and SIG. But he also scrapped the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (though the money was ultimately put back at the behest of Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the speaker of the House.) And his waiver package doesn't require districts to offer mandatory school choice or tutoring services.

So we're wondering what exactly Romney was talking about here.

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