What Do Teachers Think? Obama vs. Romney

Choosing the best presidential candidate to serve the country is not a decision that should be made lightly. As we draw closer to Election Day, the two candidates have made most of their positions clear, taking a stance on everything from job creation to immigration. Their educational platforms are very different, so your own vote could affect your future teaching career. So before you cast your ballot, here is where the two candidates stand on some of the key issues in education:

Class Size

According to The New York Times, class size has been a major point of contention between the candidates. Romney believes that class size does not make a difference if we ensure that the teachers are of high quality. As support, he points to his own experience as Massachusetts’ governor, where students reportedly performed well despite budget cuts and larger class sizes. Obama disagrees and believes that studies from the 1980s support the theory that students perform better in smaller classes with more individualized attention. He also believes that increasing class sizes will lead to higher teacher burnout and even greater strain on an already strapped education system.

Teacher Unions and Accountability

The recent Chicago teacher strike has pushed teacher unions and accountability systems into the spotlight. While Obama’s Race to the Top program has been criticized for tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, both candidates believe that there needs to be more accountability in the classroom. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Obama has received support from teacher unions, including campaign contributions. While he has offered special incentives to states to reform evaluation systems, he has also proposed a push for STEM education funding in order to improve floundering math and science scores. Romney has largely criticized unions for putting the needs of teachers before students and parents, and he believes that unions should not be able to contribute to campaign funding. Furthermore, NBC reports that he would like to put more power into parents’ hands, claiming that poor and at-risk students are currently receiving a “third-world education.” His plans for reform include offering more school choice and vouchers, implementing a “report card” system for schools, getting rid of tenure and “last one in, first one out” systems, and rewarding highly effective teachers with merit pay and other incentives.

Charter Schools

Both candidates have expressed support for charter schools. Obama went as far as informing states that they would probably not receive Race to the Top funds if they did not include charter schools in their proposals. The MinnPost explains that Romney would like to make funding portable, so more students would have access to charter and private schools. He would also like to replicate the Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Funding program in more areas, giving vouchers to inner city youth to attend private schools.

Spending

The differences are very apparent in this arena. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Obama plans to increase educational funding, with hopes of injecting funds into charter schools, teacher evaluation systems and school reform. Romney, in his “A Chance for Every Child” plan, calls for cuts in “discretionary spending” and to even consolidate or decrease the size of the U.S. Department of Education. He criticized the past stimulus funding to education for providing “more funding for the status quo” and not delivering results.

Higher Education

The Huffington Post reports that Obama has been active in making higher education more affordable, pushing for low interest loans and tax incentives. Romney has criticized the government for writing a “blank check” to universities and feels that universities can work privately to reduce costs. This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator, Sarah Fudin on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor – an education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as USC to deliver their Master of Education online. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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