I confess: the debate gave me a headache, and I’m not prone to headaches.
Must have been Romney’s smug tone. Obama can be smug, but Romney has smugness down to a science. And he was really grating. The smoother he was, the more grating. Why did I feel like he was trying to sell me something I didn’t want?
Okay, they said very little about education but the little they said was wrong.
Obama said his program was already showing results, but it’s not true. The biggest results of his Race to the Top are:
1. Massive demoralization of teachers
2. Unleashing an unprecedented wave of privatization of public schools
3. Encouraging hedge fund managers to think that they can make a hobby of reforming public schools even though they went to an elite prep school and are totally ignorant about teaching and learning
4. Turning federal programs into competitive grants instead of directing resources to where the needs are greatest
Romney claimed credit for the academic success of Massachusetts’ public schools, but he had nothing to do with it. The reform plan was passed by the state legislature in 1993, and it involved massive new spending (which Romney opposes) and a new system of standards and tests, as well as tests for new teachers. Plus a big new investment in early childhood education–which Romney opposes. And all the great improvements were accomplished by unionized teachers with tenure (which Romney opposes).
So if Romney wants a successful federal policy, he should do what seems to have worked in Massachusetts and ditch his privatization agenda.