Our guest blogger is Stephanie Frenel, an intern with the education policy team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The fact that Romney is just releasing his platform on education now is troubling, considering how long he’s been on the campaign trail and how many primaries have already taken place. But more troubling is the clear lack of detail or depth to his plan, despite his adding high caliber advisers to his education team last week.
For example, compared to his healthcare and energy platforms, the new education section does not include any detailed objectives or goals. Furthermore, Romney claims that he will use the “best ideas from states that are succeeding and replicate them across the country,” but other than his own experiences in Massachusetts, he cites no examples of successful state practices and leaves readers to guess how his plan would affect current federal legislation.
The lack of detail in Romney’s plan is likely due to his hesitation to take any stance on education issues during the 2012 campaign, when conservatives have made attacking public education a habit. But as a reminder, Romney once supported federal programs like No Child Left Behind (NCLB). “So I supported No Child Left Behind. I still do. I know there are a lot in my party that don’t like it, but I like testing in our schools,” Romney said in 2007.
During the campaign, however, he has tried to have it both ways, criticizing his opponent Rick Santorum for supporting NCLB. “He talked of this of being ‘taking for one the team.’ I wonder which team he was taking it for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington,” Romney said. At the same time, Romney has recruited several former Bush administration officials to advise him on education, including former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, a key implementer of NCLB.
Romney has changed his mind on other education issues as well. He has spoken in favor of Race to the Top, President Obama’s signature education initiative, and supports efforts to improve teacher quality. However, in the past two months, he also claimed “we needs to get the federal government out of education.”
Mitt Romney cares enough about education to put some words on his website and to hire some big guns. But if his public statements and vague verbiage are any indication, what exactly his positions are — or plan of action to accomplish them — remains a mystery.