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Eye on Education

What Picking Paul Ryan as VP Could Mean for Education

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DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 13: Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a campagin stop at the Des Moines Register Soap Box at the Iowa State Fair August 13, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. Both Ryan and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are on a multi-day campagin tour through battleground states.

This weekend, Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney finally announced who his running mate will be: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is famous for his conservative budget plan, which many suspect will now morph into the Romney-Ryan budget.

That plan is most often talked about because of the way it would reconfigure Medicaid. But another big part of that plan is cutting back on government entitlements, including federal aid for higher education and school funding.

Our friends at StateImpact Florida have taken a close look at what Ryan’s budget would mean, especially for college-bound students.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan — the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the House budget — notes that Pell Grants cost more than a country facing a $15 trillion debt can afford. His plan would reduce the maximum income of Pell recipients to $23,000 a year from $33,000 a year.

The budget would also set a maximum grant of $5,550 — about one-third the average total yearly cost of college.

Paul Ryan summed up his views on Pell Grants and other subsidies for higher education in this interview with Reason TV. In a nutshell, Ryan is worried that increased federal subsidies will add to the mountain of federal debt. Others says increasing subsidies for college-bound students will only encourage universities to raise tuition.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Ohio got about $1.1 billion in Pell Grants in 2009 – 10, the sixth most of any state in the country.

Higher education isn’t the only way Ryan’s budget would affect education; he recommends cutting back on other education programs to trim national spending.

EdWeek’s blog notes a Ryan budget would mean significant cutbacks for education across the board.

Ryan’s budget has been the litmus test for serious conservatives, and Romney has already endorsed it. The nomination means that Ryan’s budget plan will now, for all practical purposes (and despite any fancy footwork from the Romney camp), be treated as the Romney-Ryan plan. Ryan’s 2012 budget proposed spending $5.3 trillion less than Obama over the ensuing decade and called for dramatic, essential cuts to entitlements. On “education, training, employment, and social services,” the Ryan budget would spend 33% less in that span.

EdWeek goes on to note that back in 2008, Mr. Obama campaigned on smart investments in healthcare, energy and education.

Today, Solyndra is the face of clean energy and health care reform polls poorly with swing voters. When it comes to education, though, the President can point to bipartisan plaudits for Race to the Top and his stance on charter schooling. This means that–even though this election is going to be about the economy, and even though education isn’t a top five issue–there’s an excellent chance that education is now going to figure more prominently than we might have expected in Obama’s fall campaign.

And the Hechinger Report writes that Ryan’s April budget plan proposes deep cuts to the federal Head Start program that aims to jumpstart early childhood learning. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan immediately came out in opposition to that budget plan, saying it would have “disastrous consequences for America’s children over the next couple of years,” according to EdWeek.

You can read all of Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” here. Or you can learn about his stance on education here. 

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