Mitt Romney’s real education goal is described by the New York Times‘ Trip Gabriel as “overhauling the federal government’s largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system.” Yet on his website’s education page and in his recent speech describing his education plans, Romney never used the word “voucher.”
Romney’s pro-voucher position is so extreme that Margaret Spellings, a Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, has stepped back from his campaign:
“I have long supported and defended and believe in a muscular federal role on school accountability,” Ms. Spellings said. “Vouchers and choice as the drivers of accountability — obviously that’s untried and untested.”
Untried and untested at improving schools, maybe, but that’s not what vouchers are about. This is an effort to privatize public education, not to improve it. In 1955, Milton Friedman wrote that “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.” In 1997, the president of the Heartland Institute said that “Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling.” These aren’t fringe voices in the voucher movement; they are what Mitt Romney is moving toward, forcefully in his policy if euphemistically in his language. He has to be euphemistic because when he actually says directly what he means, such as that we should have fewer teachers, firefighters, and police officers, it tends not to go over so well.
Diane Ravitch sums up the American education system Romney is proposing:
In the vision presented by Mitt Romney, public dollars would flow to schools that teach creationism. Anyone could teach, without passing any test of their knowledge and skills and without any professional preparation. Teachers could be fired for any reason, without any protection of their freedom to teach. In some states and regions, teachers will be fearful of teaching evolution or global warming or any controversial issues. Nor will they dare to teach books considered offensive to anyone in their community, like Huckleberry Finn.
To Romney, every single one of those things is a feature, not a bug, of the “choice” he would introduce to education.
Source: Daily Kos