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CHICAGO, IL — Wednesday May 23, 2012, Obama for America hosted a conference call featuring Press Secretary Ben LaBolt and Policy Director James Kvaal to respond to Mitt Romney’s remarks on education reform. View excerpts below:


Romney’s Massachusetts’  Record:


Ben LaBolt, Press Secretary: “We’ve already seen what Romney Economics means for students at every level of their education. Mitt Romney might not want to talk about his lackluster record in Massachusetts, but it’s an important window into what he would bring to the White House. Let’s start with K-12 education. By his second year as governor, Romney had already forced Massachusetts schools to take the second largest cuts per pupil in the country. Those cuts forced school districts to lay off thousands of teachers along with librarians and even police officers, 14,500 in all. Not exactly the record of the job creator. When he got elected he tried to cut funding for early literacy in kindergarten programs, vetoed a bill to create universal pre-k in Massachusetts and questioned the value for early education. As governor he vetoed programs that would’ve helped reduce class sizes in the earliest grades where individual attention is the most important. Romney still believes against all evidence that smaller class sizes are harmful. None of this helps students in Massachusetts get ready for college and the workforce.”

Romney’s Policies:


James Kvaal, Policy Director: “Mitt Romney today outlined a very different set of proposals. As a reminder, his budget would make big cuts in the things we need to invest in our future, including education. He’s proposed some $5 trillion in tax cuts above and beyond the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. And those tax cuts are slanted to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. He has told his donors that he would merge or dramatically downsize the Department of Education, and he supports the House Republican budget offered by Paul Ryan that would require cuts in domestic spending, including education, by almost 20%. Think of what we’ve learned today, the most troubling aspect was his proposal to stop the clock on decades of reform by no longer insisting that action be taken when a school is struggling, and struggling for years. Instead he would return to the days when failing schools were tolerated for year after year. His proposal – his only proposal in this area is to create school report cards. But it’s not clear how those reports cards are different from the school report cards that are already required by federal law. Moreover, while President Obama strongly supports transparency and has proposed steps to expand transparency, that alone is not going to improve our schools who need tools to help failing schools improve. Governor Romney has also proposed steps to expand school choice. President Obama has also worked to expand school choice, in his case, in public schools. In fact Race to the Top, encouraged states to lift caps on charter schools and expanded and strengthened charter schools in many states. Governor Romney’s proposal also appears to be open to private schools voucher, however, which is troubling because we know from experience that private school vouchers have failed to raise achievement and they drain resources from the public schools that serve the vast majority of children.”

Romney’s Claim on 6% Unemployment:


Ben LaBolt, Press Secretary:  “Government economists have been clear that under current law their projection today is that unemployment will hit 6 % by that point. What I think was interesting about this is that Romney moved the goal post in just a matter of weeks. He said that he was going to get it down to 4 % several weeks ago. Now he’s at 6%, and he’s already moved the goal post on a critical promise that he has made. The second question is how he gets to 6% without supporting the programs that the President has put on the table to create jobs now.”