"Mandatory National Service is an Oxymoron"

Kevin Glass

8/29/2012 4:58:00 PM - Kevin Glass
Education issues were on the minds of representatives of the Republican Party and the conservative movement at a National Journal/The Atlantic event covering America's youth at the GOP 2012 convention on Thursday.

Drawing on the idea that national obligations are good in building character, moderator Todd asked at one point, "how come we don't talk more about mandatory national service? This was something I thought we were headed to and then it stopped."

Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois responded with a good line: "I think that mandatory national service is an oxymoron.

Political sons Josh Romney and George P. Bush were also on hand answering questions from Todd and co-moderator Jim Tankersley.

Josh Romney said education is the biggest issue facing disadvantaged children, and provided a somewhat surprising answer with how to fix the problem. "We've got to pay our teachers better," he said. "Teachers need better salaries. There's different ways to do it, but as long as it's going to the teachers, and to the right people."

Bush echoed this sentiment and added his own unique perspective from his experience as an educator - pointing out that while teachers' salaries have been relatively stagnant, school administrators' salaries have not been similarly limited. "A reallocation of resources of the people who are actually running our education system could really go a long way."

That's an interesting view for Republicans to take, considering that the previous evening's keynote speaker, Chris Christie, has made political hay by clashing with teachers over their salary and benefits packages in New Jersey.

Rep. Aaron Schock said that it's a matter of spending more wisely, not the total amount. Democrats, Schock said, say "you can't say you're for education if you want to spend less than me... [but we think that spending money more wisely will ensure greater accountability and better outcomes." He also drew laughs when comparing Congress to the school system. "When people ask what it's like to serve in Congress, I tell them it's a lot like high school," the legislator said. "You show up, you do your work on time, you do your homework... and you'll be successful. You don't have to be the smartest kid in class, but if you work really really hard, you'll succeed."