Romney Challenged on Educational Reform at Philadelphia Charter School

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his views on education reform clear during a stop at a charter school in Philadelphia today, MSNBC's First Read reports. Romney championed school choice, teacher accountability and having straight, married parents as having a big impact on student success.

Mitt Romney

Romney emphasized his view on the importance of school choice in educational reform, which was challenged by David Hardy of Boys Latin of Philadelphia who said, "Why can't we have good schools in this neighborhood?"

Romney's statements on the irrelevance of class size on success was countered by a teacher who cited a studying showing high impact of a class size under 18.

"Having two parents in a home makes an enormous difference," Romney said on the issue of parental impact on children's educational success. "And so if we're thinking about the kids of tomorrow, trying to help move people to understand you know getting married and having families where there is a mom and a dad together has a big impact. And that's, in my view, that is critical down the road."

* * *

NBC's Garrett Haake: Romney faces tough questions in event driving education agenda

Romney's education reform policy centers around encouraging school choice, and a question by the CEO of another Philadelphia charter school system cut to the heart of the matter.

"Whenever they talk about providing education for low income kids, they always talk about sending them to a school somewhere else," said David Hardy of Boys Latin of Philadelphia. "Why can't we have good schools in this neighborhood?" [...]

"It's not the classroom size that is driving the success of [other nation's] school systems. And then [McKinsey] looked at it and said well what is driving the success of those school systems? It's parents very involved and the idea of choice means you have chosen to be involved, parents are involved, excellent teachers, drawing teachers from the very best and brightest of graduates," Romney said. "And administrators that are able to guide the school with good policies of discipline and getting the right resources."

But another teacher on the panel contested Romney's statements, citing a separate report.

"There was a study done by the University of Tennessee, a definitive study about class size and what they said was that in first through third grade, if the class size is under 18 those kids stay ahead of everybody else all the way through school, including classes where you might have 25 in the class and co-teachers," the teacher said. "Those students lose their gains after a couple years. If you have small classes in those primary years, those most important years, that's what makes the difference."

Romney rarely discusses social issues on the campaign trail, but today he made clear that his education policy has a home-based component as well, pointing several times to importance of an engaged, two-parent home in the progression of a child's education.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.