On the heels of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's most high-profile speech to date on education, the Obama campaign sought to tout the president's accomplishments on K-12, and throw cold water on Romney's record in Massachusetts and his ideas for revamping schools.
James Kvaal, the policy director for the Obama campaign attacked Romney's proposal for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act as a major retreat from accountability. In fact, he called "the most troubling aspect" of his entire education proposal.
The idea would "stop the clock on decades of reform by no longer insisting that action be taken when a school is struggling, and struggling for years. Instead he would return to the days when failing schools were tolerated for year after year," Kvaal said.
Romney wants to focus on transparency by creating school report cards that offer a range of education data, but transparency alone isn't going to cut it, Kvaal said.
Plus, "it's not clear how those reports cards are different from the school report cards that are already required by federal law," Kvaal said.
In his speech, Romney bragged extensively about his record as governor of Massachusetts, which is nationally known for embracing rigorous standards and having high student achievement. That was true both before and after Romney was governor.
But the Obama campaign doesn't think Romney can take credit for the state's success. Instead, Romney sought to slash literacy programs and made other cuts that lead to teacher layoffs, said Ben LaBolt, a press secretary for the Obama campaign. (Politics K-12 fact check: The literacy cut appears true, at least according to an article published in The Boston Herald on January 31, 2003.) He also vetoed a bill that would have limited class size in early-grades and one that would have created universal prekindergarten, LaBolt said.
Here's the Romney team's response: Gov. Romney achieved the best results in the nation by getting rid of the kinds of things that don't work and investing in the things that do. The research clearly shows that class size has nothing to do with results, so attacking him for vetoing such a bill is just the Obama administration preferring spending to success.
The Obama aides also attacked Romney for supporting the Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, which the Obama administration has argued would slash education spending significantly. And they attacked Romney's plan to use Title I and special education spending for private school vouchers as unworkable.
And they extensively touted Obama's record, which should be familiar to pretty much everyone who reads Politics K-12: Race to the Top, NCLB waivers, revamping student loans, and getting states to lift their caps on charter schools. They also said that Race to the Top led to states adopting the Common Core State Standards. Of course, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has told state officials that it was totally their show.