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Candidate Views At Education Nation

“Romney, Obama Clash Over Education”
by Laura Meckler
Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2012

The presidential candidates offered clashing views on education, with Republican Mitt Romney delivering some of his harshest judgments on teacher unions and President Barack Obama defending them.

Mr. Obama attacked Mr. Romney for wanting to cut education spending, while Mr. Romney said it’s wrong to saddle young people with more federal debt. The conflicting views came in separate interviews for NBC’s Education Nation summit, which covered a range of education topics.

“The teachers union has a responsibility to care for the interests of the teachers. And the head of the national teachers’ union said at one point, ‘We don’t care about kids. We care about the teachers.’ That’s their right,” Mr. Romney said.

He was referring to a 2009 speech by the National Education Association’s former general counsel, Bob Chanin, who was making a different point. He wasn’t suggesting that the union doesn’t care about children, but arguing that the NEA is an effective advocate for its point of view “not because we care about children” but because of the union’s political power.

Mr. Obama, in his interview taped over the weekend, said, “I think Gov. Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher bashing.”

“When I meet teachers all across the country, they are so devoted, so dedicated to their kids,” he said.

The Obama administration has taken some heat from unions by pushing for more charter schools and seeking to tie compensation to student achievement. Mr. Obama described that as trying to “break through this left-right, conservative-liberal gridlock.”

Mr. Obama said that education reform isn’t enough, though, and must be accompanied by adequate public spending. On the campaign trail, he often mentions education as one of the areas where the nation should spend more

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