Putting Education Reform To The Test

Five Questions For A Florida Teacher Who Supports Mitt Romney

Nancy Puri

Teacher Nancy Puri.

We’ve heard a lot from educators who support Democratic President Barack Obama for reelection. The National Education Association has endorsed Obama.

But there are plenty of teachers who support his Republican challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney.

According to EdVotes.org, about 40 percent of Florida Education Association (FEA) members and at least 25 percent of NEA members are Republicans.

Nancy Puri is a member of the FEA. She is a visual arts teacher with Polk County Public Schools and holds a Master’s degree in leadership administration. She is also a Romney supporter.

Q: What do you like about Gov. Romney’s proposed education policy?

A: I look at his record in Massachusetts and I see that they literally have the number one education system in the country.

Now, they’ve always been strong in education, but he worked hard to maintain that and to maintain the rigor and excellence of the system. He knows what it requires.

I think that he’s willing to make sure that education is well-funded.

He also is an advocate of parents and of the family being involved in the educational decisions of their children…I think that they should be able to have a voice.

Q: On the other hand, what is it about President Obama’s education platform that is a turnoff for you?

A: I haven’t seen where Obama has actually been able to implement anything that has been meaningful and lasting in the last four years for education.

He talks a lot about raising scores, about needing to make sure we’re competitive on the national level, but we’re not. I don’t see where he’s really done much.

He’s helped some with tuition, and he talks a lot about helping higher education with loans, debt forgiveness and things like that.

But on the level I teach – elementary all the way up to 12th grade – I don’t see where he’s really been able to touch it. I’d like to see a change.

Q: How do you feel about the “parent-trigger” bill that narrowly failed in the Florida Legislature this year?

A: I believe it should be much more up to the community – the teachers and the parents. I believe, if they have a failing school, they should be able to have a lot more say (over what happens) at the school.

That being said, I do not necessarily believe that just because an organization is failing that parents who don’t have a background in education would know exactly how to fix that problem. So I wouldn’t be opposed to some sort of legislation that gave the parents more power, but I don’t think that letting any one group have 100 percent say would be good.

I don’t think that the districts should have as much power as they have, and I think parents shouldn’t have all of it either.

Q: How do you think education in Florida stands to win or lose depending on the outcome of the November election?

A: I believe that if Romney gets elected, parents will definitely be given more control over where their children are educated. It will open up choices.

I would expect vouchers, charter schools, and magnet schools will become a lot more accessible to families.

I would suspect that there will be a greater push for a national standard of accountability for teachers. I would expect there would be more of a national trending toward performance based pay for teachers and a move more away from a union and contractual relationships, and tenure.

I don’t believe that tenure is something that is good for education.

Q: How do you think Romney’s experience as a businessman will help schools?

A: His stance on education is just part of his overall philosophy on being successful.

Schools are organizations, just like businesses, and I think you have to look at them and assess what makes them successful. What is our goal? What is the overall objective of a school, and how do you go about making it efficient and successful?

I feel like (Romney) will do a lot for education because he did it when he was governor, but he also has run a lot of businesses and he knows how to make things successful.


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