Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has unleashed a torrent of questions and speculation in the education sphere since saying in last night’s debate with President Obama that he would not cut federal funding for education if he is elected.
As my political reporter colleagues Michele McNeil and Alyson Klein keenly observed, that statement is the most detailed he’s made to date on education spending. But it also raises a ton more questions about what, exactly, he means. There are many ways to interpret those remarks.
But the biggest question in my mind is what that statement might mean for the Head Start program, which provides early-childhood education services to more than 1 million infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are low-income.
Many early-childhood advocates and providers have been fearful that a Romney White House could spell doom for the $7.6 billion program, especially since he selected U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to be his running mate. Ryan is best known for his plan that would carve $5.3 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade by slashing domestic spending.
So, would Romney cut or spare Head Start? It is an education program, albeit one that is overseen and funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He could certainly come back to make the argument that he meant he wouldn’t cut programs that are housed in the U.S. Department of Education, for example.
Read his statement again...
I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding and—and grants that go to people going to college...I'm not planning on making changes there. I don't want to cut our commitment to education. I want to make it more effective and efficient."
And give us your take.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.