Election 2012: Two Visions on Education
Your Take: Obama's reforms put our children's future on the right track. Romney would derail them.
His student-loan reforms have cut out the middlemen and invest in students instead of giving more money to the banks that don't need it. Meanwhile, the $10,000 tax credit that he extended to families of college students helped more than 9 million students and families pay for college last year. He has doubled Pell Grant funding, increasing the number of students receiving grants from approximately 6 million to 10 million. And his administration has secured a $2.55 billion investment in HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions across a 10-year period to ensure that more African Americans have access to higher education.
But that's not all. President Obama is actively investing in community colleges to support education and career-training programs for students and workers. He has laid out a plan to forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train 2 million workers for well-paying middle-class jobs that already exist in high-growth, high-demand industries like clean energy, health care and transportation.
At a certain point, any attempt to list all of the president's education-related accomplishments starts to read like a laundry list. Ultimately, President Obama understands that a good education is an economic necessity, not a luxury; it's the only surefire way to create good jobs and grow the middle class.
While all of these measures are steps in the right direction, the president has gone further and established the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for African Americans, which is designed to produce a more effective and comprehensive range of programs for African-American students from cradle to career.
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan seem to have missed the memo. They would eliminate the president's college tax credit -- and slash Pell Grants for nearly 10 million students. To make matters worse, Romney's plan would gut investments in education, leaving schools with fewer teachers and more crowded classrooms.
Romney has even gone so far as to admit that he believes class size doesn't matter. But as any teacher in a classroom of 40 students will attest, class size does matter. It matters a lot.
These are the stakes, and they have never been higher. We cannot afford to let our children's futures fall by the wayside. Do not underestimate the impact that your voice can have on our country's future. If everyone commits to doing at least one thing to organize his or her community, the combined impact will ensure that President Obama can keep moving this country forward for another four years. Now is not the time to take chances with our children's future.
Charles J. Ogletree is a professor at Harvard Law School, the founder of the school's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and the author of numerous books on legal topics.
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