Monday, November 05, 2012

Why your voting matters in November - Head of the Class Edition

Let's talk education. Conservatives have been long eager to dismantle the Department of Education. They have also long worked to dismantle the teacher's union. They also seem none to friendly to public education in general, from where I sit. In fact they have come off as dismissive of the whole system.

So what do Romney and his folk want?

End the teacher's unions. It has been a refrain from Conservatives for years now. The idea has been to turn them into straw man villains, out for money and power. Unions aren't perfect, but they are the mechanism to ensure that bureaucracies and administrators don't roll over the teaching community or individuals, and to ensure that a general good can be maintained. So, teachers can work together, when they have their contracts violated and their hours expanded, pay cut, and new books for students denied. But workers having power and a voice in anathema to Conservatives. And, sadly, Conservatives have done a good job turning much of the country against unions, even some union members. When the workers have no voice, and the managers and executives have a booming voice (Hi, Citizens United!), whose interests are going to be met?

Vouchers. Ryan has been enthused about vouchers. And Romney has embraced them to . The trouble with this is much like with a Medicare voucher. It will only get you so far, in a country where everyone has a check to support their education kids, you'll have to cover the rest. Their are going to be a few Have's, and the rest of us will be Have Not's. There are still only so many "good" private schools and prestigious schools, and only so many seats in them. (Part of what makes them good, or seem good, is their exclusivity, control on who they accept, and student/teacher ratios) And these places will cost a lot more than a voucher covers (including travel, uniforms, special equipment, etc.).

And understand, the end game here is killing public education, leaving it all private and corporate schools. That will not be a good end for us peons. If you want a "good" education, you better have money, lots of it. When all there is is privately run schools, your costs will go up (That's how it always goes.). And even then, their aren't going to be a lot of slots, most of the rest will be left to the bargain basement education.

And of course, in these places, teachers will have no voice or ways to change things. And then there's the conservative/ALEC idea of privatizing teaching. It's a scary world that the GOP and Romney envision.

And at the university level, Romney has talked about rolling back loan improvements we've seen over the last 4 years. Loan reform has meant savings to students and families, and also a path to expanding Pell Grants that can be given. Romney seems uninterested in this improvement, instead repeating the unsupported idea that loans should go private, and all those costs for students and families that came with it should return as well. That will be great, for getting a few people richer, and either keep people out of schools or put them into deep deep debt upon finishing their studies. And that will be the result of Romney's thinking, more loans, unsubsidized at far higher rates. How does crushing graduates with debt help the work force? Romney and Ryan also seem uninterested in bolstering Pell Grants, they seem to dismiss them. The results of Romney's thinking would be a diminished public university system.

Privately owned and controlled education seems exactly what Romney and Ryan want.

How is this going to improve things for the students, or the country?

Well, we can do something about this. Vote.

For more information:

Here's some of the work President Obama has done on loans for students.

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