When Mitt Romney discusses education on the campaign trail, it’s usually to discuss higher education, and his belief that students should just “shop around,” borrow money from their parents, or join the military in order to obtain a college degree. When he does turn to K-12 education, it is to explain his belief that more should be done at the local level, touting his experience as governor of Massachusetts.
But as the Boston Globe profiled today, there is a “wide disconnect” between the success Romney touts and what actually occurred in Massachusetts, with one expert calling Romney’s tenure “inconsequential” when it came to education:
Running for president, Romney boasts of a record as an educational innovator, but a review of his efforts to impose changes on Massachusetts public schools reveals a wide disconnect between what he says on the stump and what he accomplished during his single term in office.
While he is widely credited for holding out for high standards and more charter schools, the high-profile initiatives proposed by the former private-equity businessman — much of it driven by the Republican orthodoxy of the time — suffered from a variety of practical problems. [...]
“His impact was inconsequential,” said Glen Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. “People viewed his proposals as political talking points, and no one took Romney seriously. What he gets credit for is absolutely refusing to compromise on everything he wanted to do from the moment he took office, and some people think that’s commendable.”
Two programs in particular — one to help non-English speakers and another that provided college scholarships — did not actually live up to the hype. Here’s a chart showing that, while Massachusetts certainly did not suffer under Romney’s tenure, neither did it improve substantially:
“I know what it is like to be a Governor fighting to do things differently,” Romney said in a high-profile education speech. But it turns out that he really doesn’t.