Mitt Romney's plan for education reform challenges President
Obama and teacher's unions, including federal money for some low-
income and disabled students to attend private schools.
Mitt Romney called for an expansion of parental choice in
America's school system Wednesday, pivoting to a subject he has
discussed little so far in his presidential campaign.
Mr. Romney spoke in Washington, taking his message on education
to a city that is home not only to his electoral rival - President
Obama - but also to one of the nation's important experiments with
He criticized Mr. Obama for failing to pursue deeper education
reforms, saying the president has been "unable to stand up to union
bosses, and unwilling to stand up for kids."
"As president, I will pursue bold policy changes," said Romney.
"Dramatically expanding parental choice, making schools responsible
for results by giving parents access to clear and instructive
information, and attracting and rewarding our best teachers - these
changes can help ensure that every parent has a choice and every
child has a chance."
The speech comes as both Obama and Romney, the presumptive
Republican nominee, are starting to vie intensely for the middle-
ground swing voters who will decide the election in key states.
Education ranks far behind jobs and the economy on voters' priority
list, but for many voters it's been on par with things like health
care and gas prices, among the everyday issues they care about.
Romney's speech also coincides with fresh signs that the US is
struggling to keep up with other advanced nations on schooling.
For example, US eighth-graders are doing a bit better in science
than they were two years ago, but 7 in 10 still are not considered
proficient, the Education Department said this month in its latest
report card, known as the National Assessment of Educational
Obama has made headlines about education this year more often
than Republican candidates, in part because he's been coaxing
Congress to extend low-interest loans for college students getting
subsidized federal aid. Since being elected, Obama has also promoted
a "race to the top" in which states compete to improve their
education systems, in return for extra federal dollars.
During the Republican primaries, the Education Department came up
during debates as an agency ripe for budget cutting or even outright
elimination. Now, as Romney is shifting toward general election
mode, he's talking up ideas that he says can make the US education
The Romney campaign released a series of bullet-point proposals
alongside his speech, with many ideas framed around the appeal of
parental choice and control. …