In the fall of 2008, 216 District of Columbia low-income students were notified by the United States Department of Education that they had been selected to receive scholarships to attend the school of their choice. No longer would they have to worry about violence and other distractions at school. They were about to be given the same opportunity President Obama had when he was given a scholarship to attend an elite private school in Hawaii.
But then Obama was elected president with the help of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. One of his first acts as President of the United States was to send letters to these 216 kids informing them that their scholarships were being revoked. They would not be attending the school of their choice any more. To protect teacher union jobs and union dues, they would have to attend the failing schools in their neighborhood.
Yesterday, at the Latino Coalition economic summit in Washington, D.C., Mitt Romney called improving education “the civil rights issue of our era, and it’s the greatest challenge of our time.” And he released a policy paper promising to restore and expand the very scholarships that Obama took away. “A Romney Administration will expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, offering more students a chance to attend a better school and providing a model of parental choice for the nation,” the paper promised.
And Romney also promised to expand choice beyond D.C. His education agenda calls for making the vast majority of federal education funding portable so that eligible students can choose which schools get their tax dollars. “For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to the student,” Romney explained in yesterday.
Not that every conservative is perfectly happy with Romney’s plan. At National Review, Lindsey Burke writes, “Yes, school choice, digital learning, and charters are imperative to improving America’s education system. But the federal government should not be dictating what states must do in terms of education policy. Let’s not fall into the trap of becoming conservative technocrats — placing mandates on states to implement certain policies with which we agree. That’s the mistake some conservatives made with No Child Left Behind.”
Still, Burke concludes, “Overall, the Romney plan is choice-driven and tilts heavily in favor of empowering parents. In contrast, President Obama’s “blueprint” for federal education would concentrate more control at the U.S. Department of Education and put the desires of special-interest groups ahead of the needs of families.”
Obama: President Obama told supporters at fundraiser that Romney hasn’t “spent time working in the real world.” He also claimed that “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years.”
Romney: Team Romney released a second ad describing what he will do on Day One of his presidency. Over a million dollars will be spent on the ad and it will air in North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia. And in an interview with Time Magazine, Romney said, “The President’s experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer. Both of those are fine areas of endeavor. But right now we have an economy in trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.”
Wisconsin: A new Reason-Rupe poll shows Gov. Scott Walker beating Milwaukee Mayor 50 percent to 42 percent.
Massachusetts Senate: A new Suffolk University poll shows Sen. Scott Brown beating Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, 41 percent to 40 percent.
Around the Bigs
Gallup, Pro-Choice Americans at Record-Low 41%: The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.
The Wall Street Journal, Europe Girds for Greek Exit: European officials are stepping up contingency planning for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone, even as Europe’s leaders struggled to overcome differences on how to resolve the currency bloc’s crisis.
The Wall Street Journal, Euro-Zone Business Activity Steepens Decline: Euro-zone business activity Thursday shrank at its steepest rate in nearly three years in May, compounding fears a day after European leaders failed to agree on ways to boost growth and fight the debt crisis at their latest summit.
The Wall Street Journal, Spain to Recapitalize Bankia in Latest Bailout: The Spanish government will provide about €9 billion ($11.4 billion) to Bankia in the latest sign that Spain’s economic deterioration is forcing authorities to inject more public funds to bail out ailing banks.
The Washington Post, Vallejo, Calif., once bankrupt, is now a model for cities in an age of austerity: After slashing spending on government employee compensation, Vallejo has emerged from bankruptcy and is now providing more services to citizens.
The New York Times, Egyptians Vote in First Free Election for President: Egyptians went to the polls on Wednesday to choose their first freely elected president.
AEI‘s James Pethokoukis posts data and graphs showing that spending really did surge under Obama.
Political Math details the number-fudging that Market Watch did to produce their claim that Obama has not increased spending.
The Weekly Standard‘s Jeffrey Anderson reports that Obama has presided over the 30 morst months of employment in the past 25 years.
Slate‘s David Weigel explains why leftist tycoons aren’t primarying moderate Democrats the way conservatives are doing it to Republicans.
Firedoglake‘s David Dayen notes that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has moved the goal posts on who is rich.
Digby wonders why libertarians are so committed to Republicans and not Democrats.