During Wednesday’s Presidential debate, President Obama and Governor Romney clashed over education. No, we’re not talking about Governor Romney’s vow to cut funding from PBS and Bird Bird, though Sesame Street does play an important role in teaching America’s children to count and warning them about the perils of cookie abuse.
Education remains one of the biggest challenges facing America, with unpaid student loans now exceeding $1 trillion and the country ranking 27th in Math and 22nd in Science worldwide. Both candidates made impassioned appeals to the students, parents, and future parents watching across the company. Here’s the breakdown:
+What the Prez said:
President Obama launched his education appeal by expressing his desire to train and “hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now.”
To illustrate the need for more teachers, President Obama recalled meeting a school teacher in Las Vegas with 42 students in her classroom, 10-year-old textbooks and not enough desks, meaning that students have to sit on the floor.
President Obama asserted that while he would support education spending, Governor Romney would reduce resources for education by 20%, according to running mate Paul Ryan’s proposed budget.
“That is not a recipe for growth,” Obama said. “Budgets reflect choices. And if we’re asking for no revenue, that means we’ve got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff. And the magnitude of the tax cuts that you’re talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people, but more importantly would not help us grow.”
President Obama also criticized Governor Romney for telling students to “borrow money from your parents to go to college”—referencing remarks Romney made on the campaign trail last spring. The President asserted that Romney would reduce funding and grants that make higher education affordable for students, as outlined in the Ryan budget, which Governor Romney endorsed during the primary race.
+What Romney Said
Governor Romney directly denied President Obama’s assertions that he would cut education funding.
“I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on continuing to grow, so I’m not planning on making changes there,” he said.
After President Obama said, “Romney doesn't think we need more teachers. I do," the Governor countered.
"I love great schools," he said, noting that when he was governor of Massachusetts the state had the highest-ranked school system in the country. "And the key to great schools, great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don't believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own."
Governor Romney has said in the past that he would make the Department of education,“a heck of a lot smaller,” but did not offer specifics on education programs he would cut, keep or boost.
Instead, he offered general guidelines for his approach to all federal programs:
“I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they don’t pass it: Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”
Mr. Romney identified PBS as one program that won’t pass the test, although this 8-year-old might has something to say about that.