I have been a diligent student of this Presidential election. I have watched all the debates, viewed all the ads in two battleground states, read the barrage of emails from the candidates, and studied the education records and promises of Governor Romney and President Obama. My conclusion is that---no surprise---children, educators, and the public schools have a lot at stake in this election.
I have known a lot of politicians in my life, but I have never seen anyone who switches his positions so often as Governor Romney. He exhibits no core values. The astounding and not-so-funny thing is that he gets away with it. (I fully expected to see those "flip-flop" ads with the fish, and I am still puzzled as to why they never materialized.) How could you trust someone like this? Governor Romney is the master of tricks, and public schools will be the recipient.
I am a voter who likes to know what the people from the candidate's home state say about him so I have been talking to educators in Massachusetts. Now if you listened only to the Governor, you would get the impression that he worked with Democrats to make Massachusetts the best school system in America. Not true. Just look at all the pro-education legislation he vetoed. Educators tell me that he slashed millions from special education, school readiness grants, early literacy programs, and school meals for low-income students. Yet he supports using public money for private schools. Governor Romney, I am told, also did great harm to higher education. I have learned that Massachusetts schools have been successful despite having had Governor Romney. Will the rest of us really be tricked into believing he would behave differently at the federal level? He has already stated support of Congressman Ryan's budget, one that includes those same ideas for decimation of public schools and colleges.
On the other hand, we can have a treat if we re-elect President Obama. Now, I know some of you think that treat will be a box of raisins instead of a Snickers bar, but raisins are certainly preferable to mean-spirited tricks and healthier, too.
Despite the economy President Obama inherited, he saved all of America from a depression. We should never forget that the actions of this President saved jobs for over 400,000 of our colleagues. Even today, he is trying to get Congress to approve a jobs bill that will add thousands of new teaching positions. And a job in these tough times isn't only a treat but a necessity.
President Obama has fought for early childhood education like no other President. Unlike Governor Romney, he has championed reducing class size. This President respects and honors teachers. What is more important is that he has listened to teachers---even when we have strongly disagreed with him, especially in the inappropriate use of standardized tests. As a result of listening to us, he has evolved in his ideas and his policy has changed accordingly.
I fear Governor Romney will not only have "Romnesia," but also will demonstrate the "Elvis Presley syndrome." For those of you unfamiliar wtih this problem, it's "Love Me Tender" before the election and "See You Later, Alligator" after the election.
With President Obama, educators know we have a champion who sees public education as a national priority. We know that, even if we don't see eye to eye all the time, we will have a leader who is truthful, smart, and visionary.
As I go to vote, I know I will remember that a box of raisins is really the better treat for us and for our students. I hope you'll remember that, too. Happy Halloween and Happy Voting!