In my latest reading of No Apology: Believe in America, Mitt Romney talks about education.
enjoyed Romney's anecdotes about the teachers he had----how he was
encouraged in school to write, and how one teacher of his tactfully
critiqued his students about their writing. Romney wryly says on page
211: "Those who read this book may quarrel with the success of the
Cranbrook [school's] writing program in my case. But at least I gained
the confidence to give it a try."
I was also surprised to read
that Romney and at least one of his kids received part of their
education in public schools, for you'd expect for most rich people to go
to private schools. And they did, but they also spent time in the
public educational system.
In terms of Romney's proposals
regarding education, Romney argues against the idea that more funding
and smaller class sizes mean better educational outcomes, and
he appeals to parts of Massachusetts and other countries in making his
case. For Romney, the teacher's union wants more funding and smaller
class sizes because that would lead to more teachers being employed and
paid more. (Romney may have a point here, but I wonder if more teachers
could lead to each teacher getting paid less.) Moreover, according to
Romney, there is a lot of money in the public educational system that
goes to bureaucrats.
Romney's not necessarily against
paying teachers more, however, but he's against paying them more on the
basis of seniority (and, on a related note, he doesn't care for the fact
that bad teachers can keep their jobs just because they have
seniority). He's actually in favor of paying starting teachers more
because that could encourage the best and the brightest to enter the
teaching profession. One problem he has with the current
educational system is that the current crop of teachers is not always
from the students who did well in school.
Romney favors giving
high school seniors a test to determine if they will graduate. When he
was governor, those who got at or above a certain score received
scholarships to any college in Massachusetts.
school choice, Romney expresses skepticism that a voucher system is
politically feasible. (UPDATE: He supports vouchers later in the book.) But he believes that the Catholic schools in
Boston made the public schools there better, as public schools
sought to compete. And Romney is a proponent of charter schools, which
parents can use or not use, based on how good they are.
You can read this article to see a critique of Romney's educational policies when he was governor.
According to the article, the scholarship for those who did well on the
test was inadequate and did not make much of a difference. The article
is also critical of Romney's stance as governor towards bilingual
education, and it says that Massachusetts' high performance in education
was not due to Romney's policies but rather to reforms that resulted in
more spending on education. And the article states that Romney's aloof
style and failure to engage people in the educational profession was
That critique may very well be valid. At the same
time, I agree with what Romney defines as his goal: to make sure that
the educational system is working, rather than just throwing money at
the problem. I'm not against educational spending, but I believe that
steps should be taken to ensure that the money is being put to good use.