Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Romney and Race to the Top

This blurb in the NYT recently caught my eye because it reminds me of a conversation I had with Mitt Romney earlier this year.  I made a $1,000 donation to his campaign to attend a fundraising breakfast with two dozen other Wall St/hedge fund types, not because I am supporting him but because I wanted to hear what he had to say – and hoped to ask a question or speak to him privately about ed reform.  In his opening remarks (maybe 15 minutes), he harshly attacked President Obama in every area – the economy, healthcare, foreign policy, etc. – and continued to do so through the Q&A.  He didn't call on me to ask a question, so I approached him afterward and said, "Mr. Romney, if you want to win over moderates like me who voted for President Obama in the last election, you can't simply attack him on every issue or you come across as a strident extremist.  Surely there's SOMETHING you think he's done well?"  He replied, "Yes there is: education."  I replied, "EXACTLY!  You have to make sure you say this, either in your opening remarks or during the Q&A."  He nodded his head and seemed to agree.


So it's good to see he's doing this:

Romney and Race to the Top

In a lightning-round question for all the candidates about the role of the federal government in education, Rick Perry of Texas accused Mr. Romney of supporting Mr. Obama's Race to the Top grant contest, the administration's chief education initiative, which offered states $4.3 billion for programs to lift student achievement.

"There is one person on this stage" who supported Race to the Top, Mr. Perry said, meaning Mr. Romney. "Being in favor of the Obama Race to the Top — that is not conservative."

Mr. Romney at first dodged the question, then said, "I don't support any program he's describing."

But at a town hall-style meeting in Miami on Wednesday, Mr. Romney did praise Mr. Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, the prime architect of Race to the Top. "I think Secretary Duncan has done some good things," he said. "I hope that's not heresy in this room. He, for instance, has a program called Race to the Top, which encourages schools to have more choice, more testing of kids, more evaluation of teachers. Those are things I think make sense."

The Race to the Top contest, in which Mr. Perry refused to participate, encourages states to lift caps on charter schools — that is, to offer "choice," a goal that Mr. Perry said, during his answer to the question, he supported. 

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