Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder took on the role of Mitt Romney surrogate this week praising his newly released education plan as “on the right track.”
The Republican governor endorsed Romney shortly before Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary, but this is the first time since Romney’s chief rivals dropped out of the race the campaign has tapped Snyder for a campaign press release. Other governor’s chiming in with praise were Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell – both considered possible vice presidential contenders.
Romney released his education whitepaper Wednesday that calls for more school choice, less federal mandates and more teacher accountability.
Notably, he proposes federal Title I and IDEA funds for and low-income and special education students become portable to any public, charter or private school where permitted by state law. He’s advocating for school report cards instead of mandated school intervention programs – which are underway in Detroit Public Schools.
He proposes eliminating the “highly qualified teacher” certification requirement as well as rewarding states with block grants if they eliminate tenure and establish teacher evaluation systems. For higher education, Romney welcomes private lenders back to the federal student lending business they’ve been shut out of since 2010.
Romney’s reform agenda got a cool reception from some teachers in Philadelphia Thursday who challenged his suggestion smaller class sizes don’t drive up education success.
President Obama’s campaign pounced on Romney’s class size notion.
“As governor he vetoed programs that would’ve helped reduce class sizes in the earliest grades where individual attention is the most important,” Ben LaBolt, Obama campaign press secretary, said in a statement. “Romney still believes against all evidence that smaller class sizes are harmful.”
President George W. Bush signed into law the landmark education reform, called No Child Left Behind, that called for annual testing for public school children in grades three through eight and in high school, with the results determining whether the schools make adequate yearly progress. Schools that don’t meet the proficiency targets – which states set – are commonly dubbed “failing” and face federally prescribed consequences.
The law has since been shunned by Republicans and Democrats alike as too burdensome, though they have yet to forge ahead with a path to reform. The Obama administration’s key education initiative is the Race to the Top competitive grant program that awarded states that adopted reforms such as measuring teacher accountability, lifting charter school caps and intervening in low-performing schools.
Obama has called for reforming No Child Left Behind by linking teacher evaluations with student achievement, extending Race to the Top competitive grants and continuing the annual testing schedule but with new accountability measures and flexibility for states.
Here’s Snyder’s full statement on the Romney’s plan released by the campaign:
“Too many students are being forced to move back home with their parents after graduating because they can’t find a job. Mitt Romney has a long track record as a job creator; he understands what it will take to get the economy running again. Mitt Romney’s plan to align higher education with the needs of the job market is on the right track. Simplifying the student loan process and giving students the tools they need to make informed decisions will help ensure they are able to start their careers without being saddled with massive debt. Here in Michigan, we approved tenure reform legislation that makes it easier to reward great teachers and remove ineffective ones from the classroom. We also recently approved changes that will give parents and students more choices about where to attend school, including expanding options for online classes. Mitt Romney will bring ideas like these to the national stage. As a proud nerd, I’m encouraged by Mitt Romney’s education reform plan.”