Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Obama Wanted to Talk Public Education Today

We've discussed before the inextricable link between smart investment in public education and sound economic growth & stability. Today, President Obama discussed this in North Las Vegas earlier today.

Before the president took the stage, songs such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and Wilco’s “I Got You,” along with a series of speakers including State Sen. Steven Horsford, helped energize the crowd. An estimated 2,100 people filled the gym, and more than 600 others watched from an overflow room, according to North Las Vegas Police figures released by the Obama campaign.

“President Obama understands that a good education cannot be a luxury,” said Horsford, who is battling Republican Danny Tarkanian for the 1st District congressional seat. The president, Horsford reminded the crowd, has worked to expand federal grants for college and other education initiatives, including allowing states like Nevada to obtain waivers to the “top-down mandates” of No Child Left Behind.

“We worked with Democrats and Republicans to fix No Child Left Behind,” Obama said. “Here in Nevada a waiver has been granted, because we want high standards but we don’t want teachers teaching to the test.”

One of the teachers Obama met with before his speech, Claritssa Sanchez, introduced the president.

“When I first started teaching five years ago my class sizes were about 33 students per class,” said Sanchez, who teaches 10th-grade world history and government at Canyon Spring. “Today I walk into a classroom with about 45 students … I wish (Gov. Romney) could spend one day in my classroom and see what its really like. When he says class sizes don’t even matter, I want to know why he thinks he knows what’s better for students than us teachers.”

And believe it or not, there is a clear contrast between The President and Mitt Romney on this issue. You see, President Obama actually wants to invest in public education. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, does not.

No really, it comes down to this: Do we believe in quality education and equal economic opportunities for all? So far, it looks like Mitt Romney does not. And if you want proof of that, all you need to do is read his education plan. It really doesn't paint a pretty picture for anyone who has a stake in saving our public schools.

Back in June, Ed Kilgore warned us.

Were Romney’s proposal to be implemented, it would place the power and the resources of the federal government against every state and local effort to improve public schools other than by their virtual abolition. Before long you’d doubtless see tax revolts against spending any tax dollars on education at any level; after all, why should any jurisdiction bother to tax itself simply to subsidize the private decisions of individual families to secure a service that is no longer viewed as public in nature?

Romney’s proposal is, of course, catnip to the Christian Right, which tends to view public schools as secularist reeducation camps designed to brainwash good God-fearing kids into accepting gay people and non-Christian religions and all sorts of nefarious modernism. Why not divert those tax dollars to the local Church of the Final Thunder Academy, free of those scary people of color, or better yet, to parents themselves for home-schooling? Next time you hear someone say Romney is a non-ideological technocrat who should be given a chance to see if he can somehow tune up the economy via those skills he deployed at Bain Capital, direct them to Romney’s education plan and ask how “moderate” it looks.

This is why Romney has said that class sizes don't matter. For him, they don't. And that's because for him, preserving public education is not a goal. Rather, he's repeatedly pandered to both the for-profit school industry and the religious right by promising to redirect federal funds meant for public schools into private school voucher programs. In essence, Romney wants to gut our community's schools in order to bail out church and for-profit schools.

Remember this next time you hear someone say Mitt Romney would fix "our bailout culture" as President. And remember this next time you hear someone say Romney is just a "technocratic fix-it guy". Oh no, he's not.

As we've said before, good schools are the foundation of a good economy. But without wide access to good schools, most of our kids will be economically trapped. We've seen this firsthand here in Nevada. And now, Mitt Romney wants to take this to an even larger scale. And to make it even worse, he doesn't care if there are any public schools left if he gets his way.

And that's the reminder President Obama wanted to give us here in Nevada on this fine, stormy day.

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