In my third installment in what may be a series of posts on how to help undecided voters .. I discuss Romney's view of teachers, students, his MA record and his plans if elected (if those really are plans).
Below the fold is my response to my cousin-in-law who is sort of Middle of the Road, while my cousin is a right winger.
So the question really is what did Romney do for MA schools while governor? That is, hat is his record, of which we hear so little about. From what I could tell, he did a whole lot of nothing.
MA has some of the best schools in the nation, this is true. But the MA scholastic record improved largely due to the 1993 MA Education Reform Law education reform law that put billions into the schools, set academic standards and started standardized testing. The state didn't become so great because of anything Romney did. This Boston Globe article from July talks more in detail about his time as governor and what he did for education.
I think Glen Koocher in that article says it all ... "his impact was inconsequential." There is a graph in the article that shows the English and Math MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) scores. For the first three years, there appears to be very little change .. but in the last year there is a bit of a jump (+3 for English from 06 ot 07, and +6 for Math). The article doesn't describe if something changed in the laws between those years.
One thing that I found really troubling about his view on education was his support for a bill in 2002 that led to English only classes. According to this article, for 31 years MA had a bilingual education law in which students learned academic subjects in their native language. In 2002 (the same election that Romney became governor and he openly supported), MA voters turned over that law. The new law then put these students into predominantly English spoken classes for a year before the student was moved into the regular classroom. Sadly, this new law hurt students more than helped (see the top part of the figure in the article). Romney, however, has claimed that this was a success during the GOP primary debates.
This article states
"In 2006, three years after the law Romney campaigned for went into effect, new state tests showed that 83 percent of students learning English as a second language in the third through twelfth grades could not read, write, speak or understand English well enough for regular classes after their first year in Massachusetts schools. Of those enrolled in state schools for at least three years, more than half still were not fluent."This article also talks about a scholarship program that Romney introduced for the best students in the MA high schools to attend MA public colleges. While the scholarship covered tuition, more than 80% of the yearly cost comes from fees. As an example of some of the fee from my personal experience (and likely yours), I remember spending between $300 and $500 a semester for text books at BU and that was in the late 90s. If you were lucky, we were able to find some used text books .. but those were very limited and not all that much of a discount from a new book.
The cost of higher education in MA rose dramatically while Romney was governor .. tuition and fees jumped 63 from 2003 to 2007 after he cut state funding to a total of $140 million, or 14% in four years according this this other Boston Globe article. This rise in tuition and fees is greater than the national average of 40% over the same time period. That is according to the graph in the graph in this NY Times article.
The Paul Ryan's budget (which Romney had endorsed) will further hurt college students because their plan is to cut Pell grants (a program that now helps more students since Obama took office). This would hit more than 1 million students and probably the poorest students as well according to this Huffington Post article As for Romney's view before his choice of Ryan as VP, his plan has been called "a bit vague on specifics" accoding to this US News article.
None of this sounds like a formula of supporting teachers or students.
Now, on to your other questions.
You ask if I'm willing to pay more in taxes for schools .. in short Yes. In long .. absolutely. In my district (Jefferson County) there is yet another ballot measure to help fund the schools in our county. They need more money to get updated text books and better technology for the class rooms. They asked for something similar in 2008, which failed. I think they've asked in past elections before I came to CO and failed then as well. Sadly, I think they will fail again. Why do I support the measure? Because education is a fundamental for a healthy society which wants to grow toward the
Is the government responsible to offset costs that the district can not afford. Which level of government are you talking about .. state or federal. If a school has a legitimate need for additional funds (they need to build a new wing, expand the library .. even save their art, music and gym programs) then yes .. the school should be able to go to the state, and then if needed the federal government. And these bodies (state and government) should feel responsible because 1) they are providing a service to their people and 2) like I said earlier, an educated society is a fundamental to a healthy one.
What do you mean that educating low-income students is a social issue? Are you saying there are some people (like myself) who thinks everyone should have an opportunity to get an education no matter their economic situation and there are those who think you only get the education that you can afford? That would be like picking winners and losers. No one is knowingly or willingly born into a rich or poor family. It is the one thing is life we can't choose. And if someone has a very unstable home life situation, school should be a place a child should be able find stability.
Tax payers do pay the salaries of professors. In the last few years, Arizona State University, Univ. of Arizona and Norther Arizona Univ. all had a number of furlough days because the state (or the wonderful Gov. Janet Brewer) would not give them the money they had budgeted for. I think they had something like 5 or 10 days like this, and tried to distribute them through the year. Similar things happened in CA, but I am not as familiar with the situation there as I am with what happened in Arizona. Outside of the state funds, and tuition, federal taxes are also used to pay professors (and myself) via grant money.
I think that teachers are mostly over worked as opposed to just doing the minimum and are generally underpaid. We both know that teachers work many hours outside of the classroom, before and after the start of school vacations (like summer). And if the class is large, then a teachers attention will be divided that many more ways and more students with education deficiencies are likely to slip through unnoticed.