The GOP platform released Tuesday at the Republican National Convention closely mirrors an officially nominated presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans for revamping K-12 education. It views expanded school choice as a major factor in fixing K-12 education, and celebrates local and state control while steering clear of getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education.
The education portion of the platform also:
•Doesn’t see more money as the solution for improving education. That tracks with the budget proposed by the presumptive veep nominee, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, which calls for big cuts in domestic discretionary spending, the category that includes education.
•Pushes what does works in the GOP view instead of more funding: accountability on the part of administrators, parents and teachers; higher academic standards; programs that support the development of character and financial literacy; and periodic testing in math, science, reading, history, and geography.
•Calls for rigorous academic standards, but doesn’t actually mention the words “Common Core State Standards Initiative.” Instead, it “affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations.”
•Goes beyond endorsing the Romney push for special education and poor students to get federal dollars for school choice to endorse a wide variety of school choice options. (The choice portion of the platform echoes the 2008 GOP platform.) “We support options for learning, including home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, full-day school hours, and year-round schools.” The platform also lists charter schools, open-enrollment, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education, vouchers and tax credits among laudable school choice options.
•Supports technical education: “Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, proper implementation of technology is a key factor in providing every child equal access and opportunity.”
•Calls for an expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as a model for the rest of the country.
•Supports family literacy programs “because parents are a child’s first teachers.”
•Supports English immersion rather than bilingual education for students learning English;
•Favors abstinence education that teaches abstaining from sexual activity until marriage over what it called “family planning” classes. (However, calling abstinence-only education “effective” may be a stretch.)
•Wants to keep any federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs. (Know more about what they’re referring to? Tell us in the comments or email us, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.)
•As far as teachers go, supports legislation that changes the “highly qualified” teacher designation, created under the No Child Left Behind Act. Congress has tinkered with the definition of these teachers to include those with alternative certification, and the platform notes that highly qualified teachers shouldn’t be defined just by their degrees to the exclusion of results in the classroom.
•In the higher education arena, calls on state officials to “ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”
•Encourages expanded competition among four-year colleges as a way to combat the cost of higher education. As far as federal student aid, the platform says, “The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans.” Private sector student financing, however, is welcome.
--Nirvi Shah and Alyson Klein
Photo: Ann Romney blows a kiss after being greeted by her husband Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on stage the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)