Putting Education Reform To The Test

After Two Presidential Debates,Three Questions For Florida’s 2010 Teacher of the Year


Megan Allen, 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year

The National Education Association (NEA) endorsed President Barack Obama last July.

The group represents 3.2-million members, many of whom will choose Republican Gov. Mitt Romney over Obama in spite of the NEA’s recommendation.

Megan Allen, 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year, is making the media rounds on behalf of the NEA in support of Obama.

She teaches 5th grade at Shaw Elementary School in Tampa.

Q: Can Mitt Romney do anything to persuade educators who are on the fence that he has the better education platform?

A: I think there are some very clear differences in education policy between the two candidates. Obama sees teachers as job creators and I feel that he realizes that economic recovery begins in our classrooms. He sees teachers kind of as one of the solutions. He was able to save over 450-thousand teacher jobs…

He also has been able to make higher education more affordable.

In Florida alone, he was able to help over 700-thousand students with tax credits to make college more affordable. He made Pell Grants larger for over 600-thousand students…and he was able to make affordable loans for college for over 450-thousand students.

Q: The NEA says the Obama administration offered relief from No Child Left Behind mandates. Would you tell us more about that?

A: The Obama administration was able to offer waivers. With No Child Left Behind, the goal was that every child would reach proficiency in Math and Reading by 2014, which was seen by many as vague and unattainable. So with these waivers, we were able to come up with better plans to meet the needs of students.

Q: You’ve said that Gov. Romney just doesn’t get the inner workings of a classroom. What has Romney said he will do as president that you think would be detrimental to education?

A: He said time and time again that class size doesn’t matter. Anyone that’s walked into a classroom, that’s walked into a school, that understands how student learning works knows class size does matter. And that’s what’s so important about keeping teachers in our schools. With smaller class size, we’re able to meet the individual needs of our students…That’s something Romney just doesn’t get.

In the debate the other night, he was talking about how he would grow the Pell Grant program. But when you look at his actual plan and (running mate Paul) Ryan’s as well, there are plans to actually cut the Pell Grant program.

I’m concerned, too, that he would let Obama’s college tax credit expire, making higher education more expensive.

Slashing education funding for both general and special education would have great effects on my students in my classroom.

Also looking at his plan, cutting money for Head Start – Head Start is a program for early childhood education. Getting our low income students ready for that first day in the classroom is so important. It’s so important for closing the achievement gaps. Any cuts to Head Start would be very detrimental for our low income students.

This election could have great impacts on our classrooms.

Romney does have the support of some prominent educators. More on that next week.


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