Presidential Debate Highlights the Future of Education

By Catherine Groux
Posted October 04, 2012 04:00 PM

Romney and Obama highlighted education during the debate.
Romney and Obama highlighted education during the debate.
During the October 3 presidential debate, incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney discussed how their elections would affect the nation, including its educational future. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, almost 70% of Americans now believe education is a very important issue in the 2012 election, and could ultimately determine who they vote for.

Seeing Eye to Eye

During the debate in Denver, Colorado, both candidates agreed that investing in education is necessary, particularly to jump-start the American economy and propel the nation into a more prosperous future. Additionally, Obama stated he feels he and Romney would both support more partnerships between community colleges and local businesses to ensure students are better prepared to enter the workforce after earning an associate's degree. 

Butting Heads Over Budgets

While both candidates agree education is important for the country's future, they disagree on how funding should be distributed to this sector. Throughout the debate, Obama accused Romney of freezing income taxes for wealthy Americans, which would force education cuts.

Obama stated that, based on Romey's tax and budget plan, is seems likely he would cut the education budget by up to 20%. Romney, however, stated this is simply not true.

"I'm not going to cut education funding," he said. "I don't have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college"

In a fact-check for The New York Times, journalist Richard Perez-Pena stated that it does, in fact, seem likely Romney would make cuts to the education budget, especially when it comes to federal Pell Grants. While Obama has doubled the size of the Pell Grant program, Romney has remained somewhat vague on the topic. Romney has publicly stated that he would support increases to Pell Grants to correspond with inflation, but he would also "refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students who need them most." Perez-Pena feels this could indicate potential cuts in the number of individuals who qualify for this type of financial aid.

Additionally, in April, Romney allegedly told a group of donors that, in order to make the U.S. Department of Education more efficient, he would either "consolidate [it] with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller," NBC News reports.

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