Their visions could not have been more divergent and stark.
Romney called for putting federal education dollars into the “backpack” of the student, empowering parents to pick the educational option that best meets the needs of their child.
Obama called for hiring 100,000 new teachers, a familiar refrain during his first term in office. A champion of government school bailouts, Obama emphasizes more teachers, as opposed to insisting on more effective teachers, and refuses to endorse the idea of freeing students to choose their own schools.
While Romney would challenge the failing public education establishment through competition between schools, Obama wants to feed the establishment even more tax dollars. Obama’s call for more teachers is on its surface laudable, but it accomplishes a sinister, political goal: producing more dues revenue for teachers unions, which are close political allies of the president.
How much more revenue? According to EAGnews.org calculations, the National Education Association would stand to reap $12.4 million in new dues every year while the American Federation of Teachers would gain about $4.6 million.
And the circle would remain unbroken. The new dues revenue would produce significantly more money to pay for union political efforts, mostly on behalf of Obama and other Democrats.
And let’s not forget the $10 “Obama tax” the NEA is already charging its members to spend on political ad campaigns, including some for the president. With the extra dues, the tax would produce $750,000 in free money overnight, courtesy of school employees compelled to support the union and its political agenda.
We were surprised and pleased that education played such a large role in the presidential debate. It has been largely absent from the conversation until how.
The candidates’ visions for the government education system could not be more contrasting and consequential. Voters interested in improving public education will have a very clear choice in November.