Throughout the presidential campaign, only a handful of political issues have been routinely ducked and avoided as often as education. In the face of more than a trillion dollars in college loan debt and studies confirming that the nation’s students are falling behind in math and science proficiency, both major-party presidential tickets have failed to address the problems plaguing American education.
While both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have given a few talking points about the need to reform and improve our education system, neither candidate has provided much substance or leadership on the issue. Education did come up in the first presidential debate; however, neither candidate said anything that indicated a willingness to make education reform a top priority of their administration. While Obama rightly supports more federal funding for schools, the nation’s education problems are much more complex than a simple financial shortfall. Real change and reform are needed in the way the U.S. delivers education.
Romney, unsurprisingly, has been equally silent on how he would make real reforms in order to get American education back on track. Outside of a jab at Big Bird and proposing to cut federal funding to PBS, it’s hard to tell how he differs from Obama on the role of the federal government in education. Should college students and school administrators expect less or perhaps more federal aid under a Romney administration? It’s almost impossible to know.
What is well-known is that neither presidential candidate is making education a focal point in their campaign, and neither is willing to provide much leadership on the issue. As Election Day draws near, voters should demand more clarity and substance from the candidates on what they plan to do to rebuild and improve America’s broken education system.