Friday, 9 November 2012

Role of Education in the 2012 US Presidential Elections

Well, another presidential cycle ends and it is the perfect time not to just tally wins and losses but to reflect on the nature of the political system of America. Obama definitely won with a better ground game. The Obama campaign spent heavily while Romney could not even launch a range of synchronized attacks.

This year education was a key-issue for voters. Though education did not top the voter’s list the polling results tell a different story altogether. According to the governors, education is a top priority just next to economy and jobs. Majority of the American voters believe that investing in education and innovation is one of the best ways to help grow the country’s economy.

The Image says it all
Education definitely emerged as an unexpected star in the president’s campaign. The contrast in the education policies showed its results in the election poll results. Romney hardly spoke about education on his campaign trails and his education plan missed a lot of details. He left the people unsure about what he would do as president when it came to education. People believed that he should get more serious about education.

A study conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found out that Obama has made “unprecedented investments in education”. His programs were directed towards failing schools and student poverty. On the other hand, Romney’s plan that focused on vouchers would weaken the liability systems that protect unprivileged students. Romney had been inconsistent as well on whether he would cut the federal education funding.

Around 80 percent of the American voters consider education important. They support increased funding for public education even if it meant rising of taxes. Let us take a quick tour through some of the important features of education policies of Obama:
  • Both Obama and Romney supported the revisions of the No Child Left Behind education law. But he and Obama differ on the federal role in education and voucher program that make use of public money to send children to private schools.

  • Obama supported the cry for colleges to be made more accessible. This earned him the approval from Congress for a $ 10, 000 college tax credit for four years and increases in Pell grants and other monetary aids.

  • Education is central theme in Obama’s 2013 budget proposal. Again, Obama’s package included $100 billion for education and this he claimed to save about 300, 000 jobs. This also helped to fund his Race to the Top grants for states and this even received support from Republicans as it promoted school turnarounds, better teacher evaluations and charter schools.

  • Obama understands that class size matters and in an effort to make sure that the classrooms are not overcrowded he has taken initiatives to protect top quality teachers from layoffs.

  • President Obama does not want costs to be a barrier for higher education. This is the reason that he has formulated a lot of policies to make college more affordable for students and their parents.

Why does it matter?

More than 8 out of 10 Americans state that education is very important to them and they only keep economy above education. According to studies it has been found out that US lags behind other countries in reading math and science. The country is also stated to fail to be able to compete globally. Again, the cost of higher education is leaving students buried in debts or they are unable to afford all of it. There is a growing cry all across the nation for need of college and some post-high school training to be able to succeed in the job market. Obama asked all Americans to commit to at least one year of college or career training. The nation still seems to be far from its goals to lead the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020.

This year the nation saw offerings of two extremely different visions and plans for the country’s future. Nowhere was the contrast more apparent than it was in education. It goes without saying that education did play an important role in the presidential election of 2012. It gave all the Americans a sobering reminder that in spite of all the political rhetoric about equality of opportunity, the guarantee for world class education for all Americans is a factor not to be overlooked.