Uh Oh, Ann Romney Wants to Champion Education
It's become a tradition for the First Lady to become an advocate for an issue most Americans can get behind. With her "Let’s Move!" childhood obesity campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama's brought some fun to healthy eating healthy and getting fit—she got Beyoncé on board and Mrs. O actually did the Dougie with middle schoolers in Washington D.C. last spring. Well, it turns out that if she becomes First Lady, Ann Romney wants to be involved with schools and kids, too. In a Q&A with Good Housekeeping, Romney revealed that she intends to focus on education and at-risk kids if her husband wins the Presidency.
Romney told the magazine that she's "seen what happens to people's lives if they don't get a proper education." Romney's solutions, however, seemed to have missed the memo on focusing on a non-controversial, unifying solution. Instead of focusing on, for example, promoting reading in schools like Laura Bush—no matter how you felt about President George W. Bush, no one could argue that kids shouldn't read more—according to Romney, we just need to get rid of teachers unions and have more charter schools.
"The charter schools have provided the answers," says Romney. Never mind that Stanford's CREDO study backs up the common-sense viewpoint that not all charters are hubs of excellence. Romney's beliefs about who's to blame for the challenges in our education system are what's most polarizing, however. "The teachers' unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system," she says.
Someone please tell Ann Romney that not all teachers in America are unionized and in fact, states where teachers unions are illegal have some of the lowest student achievement results in the nation. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, where her husband was governor, has one of the strongest teachers unions in the nation and has the top performing education system in the country. That means getting rid of teachers unions probably isn't the key lever in reforming schools.
And what does Romney mean by "throw out the system" anyway? Sure, we have plenty that needs fixing, but there are incredible, teacher-led innovation initiatives happening in our schools. Knowing the folks Mitt Romney surrounds himself with, it's safe to guess that Mrs. Romney's not talking about throwing out the system in favor of a highly personalized, creativity-infused learning experience advocated by education innovators like Sir Ken Robinson. Perhaps she plans to champion privatizing our public school system—or is this a nod toward the Republican party's fascination with getting rid of the Department of Education?
While Romney didn't get into specifics with Good Housekeeping, if she becomes First Lady we'll soon find out what she means since focusing on education and "working with at-risk youth and recognizing that every child is a child of God" will be her focus. After all, says Romney, "some of those children are being left behind, and that is a heartbreak and a huge, huge loss to this country."