Romney demonstrated a special sensitivity to underdogs in our society when he indicated this week he would support a radical change in our educational system that would benefit inner city children. For the first time in more than fifty years, contrary to current political posturing and judicial rulings, Romney says that he will propose an overhaul of the educational system that will allow and pay for inner city kids to be bused into suburban communities and to choose the schools of their choices in suburban districts, and not be limited to selecting just another school in their same district. In his position paper on education Mr. Romney offers two radical changes to our current educational status. These changes are:
Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend. Make Title I and IDEA funds portable so that eligible students can choose which school to attend and bring funding with them. This plan will allow the student to choose from any district or public charter school, or a private school where permitted by state law, or to use funds toward a tutoring provider or digital course.
Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives. Require states to adopt open-enrollment policies for students receiving Title I and IDEA funds, and to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.
This is surprising news, indeed, from this man who until now has presented a very public and consistent insensitivity to the plight of the poor and underprivileged. The grossest inequalities in educational opportunity today exist between school districts, not inside them. To allow kids from the east side of Detroit to select Cranbrook Academy, Romney’s alma mater, for example, in affluent Bloomfield Hills or other virtually all-white private schools in the suburbs for their grade school and high school experiences is a strong move in the right direction to correct decades of de facto segregation in our public school system. Federal court rulings in the early 1970s refused to permit busing of children across district lines creating the current situation which traps kids inside of city school districts while other kids, throughout the suburban communities enjoy superior facilities and educations. Forced busing became a hot potato issue in the early 70s and one wonders if Romney is really serious abo0ut taking on the potential wrath of suburbanites on this issue. It would be a terrible and callow trick on poor people if Romney says he will do this only to garner their potential votes while having no real intent to demonstrate the character and integrity to follow through with this promise.